Meet Our 2018-2019 Winners of the Bilinski Fellowship
Will’s dissertation, Serial Feelings: Forms of Affect in Victorian Literature, explores the relationship between serialized narratives and structures of feeling in the nineteenth century with chapters on Dickens, Eliot, and Conrad. His argument makes use of Lacanian register theory to intervene in critical discussions of affect. Under this framework, he analyzes structures of feeling in three registers: emotion (imaginary), feeling (symbolic) and affect (Real). He argues that while emotion is often thought of as a straightforward matter of biology and cognition, the history of emotion suggests that the feelings that are available to an individual at any given moment are impacted by the historically variable discourses about those emotions as well as the materiality of the medium in which those discourses circulated. Against the cognitive appraisal model of emotion, in which an individual assesses and evaluates a situation accompanied by physiological arousal in order to produce an emotional state, he shows that serial forms demonstrate the mediation that is necessary for feeling to be felt as such. A subject’s affective response is never individual; feeling always passes through an other, even if that other is imagined.
Annette's research focuses on weather and natural disaster in the long eighteenth century and their relevance for understanding England's growing imperial ambitions and rapid economic change. Her dissertation, “Writing in the Storm: Britain’s Literary Weather, 1667-1790," considers the question of why storms are so pervasive in literature of the period, engaging ecological theory, cultural studies of science, religious studies, and 21st-century sociological research about Hurricane Katrina and the status of climate refugees displaced from natural disasters. The project links unprecedented storms and class tensions during a particularly stormy period within the epoch of climatological instability we now refer to as the Little Ice Age, ultimately considering the disconnect between who gets to read disaster as an instructive text and who is at the center of the storm.
Katie works with contemporary American poetry, media studies and visual culture, and Marxist theories of economics. Her dissertation interrogates the ways contemporary Americans understand themselves in relation to social systems, particularly the swiftly changing global economy. She is interested in how local, lived experience is dialectically shaped by global systems which are far off, vast in scale, and often incomprehensible. Her scholarship engages various cultural objects, including poems, infographic maps, and the visual language of Instagram artists to produce constellations of insights that exhibit key modes of thinking in the present moment. She works as a historian of the contemporary world during what she sees as a time of great transition.
Ashley’s dissertation--tentatively titled "Making Land, Making People: Rhetorics of Value and Improvement in Early Modern English Literature" --explores the imbrications of sixteenth and seventeenth century poetry and agricultural treatises and how these texts share investments, reflections, and representations of emerging agrarian capitalism and colonialism. By studying how poetic and agricultural texts rationalize regimes of land use, this project aims to unearth the building blocks of systems of geographical and class difference that mark our current day.