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Faculty and PhD candidate receive Humanities Center fellowships

May 17, 2017

A member of the English faculty and one of our PhD candidates have both received Humanities Center fellowships for the next academic year. Dr. Mike Goode (Associate Professor) will be a Faculty Fellow in Spring 2018; T.J. West (PhD candidate) will be a Dissertation Fellow in 2017-2018.

A diptych of a man with short red-brown hair wearing a navy and white gingham button-up over a grey tee and seated in front of a grey backdrop; and of a man with light brown hair and short beard and mustache, wearing a black collared shirt, dark grey vest, and light grey paisley tie, sitting in front of a light grey backdrop.

Dr. Mike Goode (left) and T.J. West (right).

Dr. Goode will be using the fellowship period to work on a book project, tentatively titled Romantic Capabilities: The Media Behaviors of William Blake, Jane Austen, and Walter Scott, which examines the media forms in which certain Romantic literary texts have taken on new life, with an eye especially on instances where a Romantic author's corpus has flourished for a period of time in a specific media form, through a specific mode of medial dissemination, or through a specific kind of reader participation. The project takes up three cases: the viral circulation of Blake’s proverbs and pictures; the creation of fan fictions set in the story-worlds of Austen’s novels; and early virtual reality media experiments involving Scott’s historical novels. The basic premise of the project is that while any given “media behavior” of a text can advance a wide range of interpretations and political agendas, the behavior itself proves revelatory of latencies in the text’s form, latencies which sometimes force us to rethink the text’s significance for the time it was written.

West will be using the fellowship to complete his dissertation, tentatively titled History's Perilous Pleasures: Experiencing the Terror of History in the Historico-Biblical Epic. This project focuses on the mid-20th Century historico-biblical epic, a film genre that flourished within Hollywood from 1949 to 1966 and which took as its subject the depiction of the ancient world. While much work on the genre emphasizes its allegorical articulation of Cold War concerns, this dissertation takes this body of films seriously as a mode of historical engagement. It argues that the historico-biblical epic takes the pressure of the terrifying possibility of the end of human history engendered by the atomic bomb and transmutes this into a series of dialectics, between agency and powerlessness, embodiment and transcendence, desire and death, imperial splendor and its impending decline. While antiquity seems to offer the modern world the ability to escape from the imminence of a nuclear armageddon and the possibility of no future, the epic renders visible and forces an encounter with the very terrors it promises and seeks to escape. As such, it presents a portrait of an uneasy American culture struggling, and never quite succeeding, to make sense of its own position in time and history.