How do old books tell us new stories?
This question informs both my research and my teaching in the humanities.
I am a visiting lecturer in the Department of French and Italian at Princeton University. I received my Ph.D. from Yale University in 2014 with a dissertation on the role played by the mechanical arts in the evolution of Dante’s thought from the minor works to the Commedia. For Dante, as for his contemporaries, technology was both a God-given means for humans to advance and remedy their postlapsarian state and an essential tool for understanding the intimate connection between nature and art. Informed by philosophical, theology and literary discourse on art and craft in Dante’s age, my research illustrates how, in the poet’s hands, metaphors such as navigation and agriculture are not simply rhetorical devices, but mobilize lyric processes of techne that occasion ontological reflection. This cross disciplinary approach persuasively reveals a continuity in Dante’s poetics between making in a technical, material sense, and creativity in its most elevated, literary form. Thus far, I have published two articles drawn from this research in peer reviewed collections.
My postdoctoral research, Dante at Hand, places the material history of Dante’s popularity in North America in the nineteenth century in conversation with a history of women’s reading practices. I use social network analysis on the membership rolls of the Dante Society of America to challenge and refine conventional narratives regarding the membership to highlight the contributions of female members to the dissemination of Dante in North America. These readers of the Comedy adapted their interpretations of the poem to their broader civic engagement, emerging as important historical agents for Dante’s reception within communities dedicated to social, religious and educational reform. Drawing on an extensive range of writing (criticism, translations, letters, journals, marginalia, poetry, plays and didactic materials) from the fields of journalism, the performing arts, and other sites of professional and non-professional literary practice, this study of changing public tastes and critical practices draws upon unpublished material in archives and collections not only in the United States, but also in Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany.
At Yale, I pioneered the establishment of the digital humanities community, helping coordinate the Digital Humanities Working Group, an interdisciplinary working group at the Whitney Humanities Center. In 2015-2016, I received the inaugural Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the newly founded Digital Humanities Lab where I was the principal investigator for two digital humanities projects – The Yale Community Voices Archive and Dante at Hand. These two projects addressed different communities and disciplines, but both leveraged information technology to enhance and expand access to digitized and born-digital special collections.These efforts have enriched and enhanced my other research interest: how material and structural changes in the reproduction, storage and transmission of texts change the ways we read, write and learn.
All of the media on this site, including photographs, are my own and reflect my ongoing creative interests in experimental visual media and multimedia storytelling.
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