Amanda Jo Goldstein - Postdoctoral Fellow, AY 2011-2012
Amanda Jo Goldstein is now an assistant professor of English at Cornell University. Goldstein works on romanticism and the history and philosophy of science, with special interests in didactic poetry, pre-Darwinian biology, and atomist materialism. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (English, German, French) from U.C. Berkeley in 2011. Her dissertation, "'Sweet Science': Romantic Materialism and the New Sciences of Life", was supported by the ACLS-Mellon Foundation, the DAAD, and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. She is contributor to the upcoming volume Marking Time: Romanticism and Evolution, and her work on Goethe’s morphology has appeared in the European Romantic Review.
While participating in the Sawyer Seminar, Goldstein developed her dissertation into a book on Romantic atomist poetics and the biomedical sciences. From Wordsworth’s call for a “science of the feelings,” to Blake’s for a “sweet Science,” and Goethe’s for a “tender Empiricism,” her manuscript argues for a series of late Enlightenment attempts to re-invent empiricist methodology – and to do so with the resources of verse and figure. “Sweet Science” shows how writers from James Thomson to Percy Shelley turned to Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura for a materialist science that afforded poetry a strong claim upon the real and proved particularly fit to connect the epochal Romantic interest in living bodies to the period’s new sense of its own historicity. This neglected strain of materialist natural curiosity uncouples biology and subject-centered aesthetics from the rhetoric of agency, autonomy, and power at work in the ideal of “organic form.” It positions vulnerability – to impression, influence, and decay – as central, not inimical, to biological life and its emergent science. A final chapter connects Marx’s early notion of “species being” to his historical materialism in light of this Romantic and neo-Lucretian heritage.
Bradley Matthys Moore - Dissertation Fellow, Fall 2011
Bradley Matthys Moore, is now a Lecturer in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Medical History and Bioethics. He studies the history of medicine, health, and society in modern Europe, particularly in the former Czechoslovakia. His research focuses on the influence of communism on approaches to preventive medicine, environmental health, therapeutics, and international health.
While a Sawyer Seminar Dissertation Fellow, Moore was a doctoral candidate in the Joint PhD Program in History and the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology. His interests include the history of modern central Europe, the history of medicine and public health, and the cultural and intellectual history of European communism. His dissertation project on public health and hygiene in the former Czechoslovakia received funding from the J. William Fulbright Commission, the University of Wisconsin Department of History, the University of Wisconsin Department of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, and the University of Wisconsin Division of Arts and Humanities. Moore's dissertation project (deposited spring 2013), titled “Healthy Comrades: Medicine, Marxist-Leninism, and the Masses in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1948-1968”, examines the effort to establish hygiene as a fundamental element in the development of communist society. In an era when concern over infectious disease was giving way to issues of chronic illness, and clinical medicine was receiving the lion's share of prestige and support in both the East and West, Marxist-Leninism provided a method to assert the integral role of an environment-based approach to issues of public health and hygiene. Czechoslovak hygienists continually cultivated and employed features of the dominant Soviet ideological model, such as the post-war emphasis on “Pavlovian medicine”, the demand for dialectical-materialist approaches to science, the repeated calls for an explicitly preventative focus in socialist health care, and the philosophical imperative of constant improvement in the living and working conditions of all citizens, as a resource for their own scientific and institutional aims. Hygienists therefore advocated a biomedical perspective deeply connected to communist ideology, where human health, and in turn the socialist revolution itself, were contingent on the development of a salubrious living and working environment: everything from urban planning to objects of furniture, from clothing to water supplies, necessitated expert and professional input on the physiologic and hygienic ideal. But although the high modernist impulses of a far-reaching environmentalist view of hygiene found a ready home in Marxist-Leninism, the Stalinist economic model of extensive growth would prove an intractable foe. The effort to make hygiene a vital and foundational aspect of social and economic planning constantly confronted a political system which prioritized short-term interests over the long-term aims of public health. Nonetheless, Czechoslovak hygienists would continue to mobilize ideology to support their objectives throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The vast authority offered by a dialectical-materialist approach to public health was not readily abandoned, and in fact, it was a crucial component within an evolving vision of socialist hygiene.
Michelle Niemann - Dissertation Fellow, AY 2011-2012
As a PhD candidate in the English department at UW-Madison with a minor in U.S. History, Michelle Niemann served as an instructor in the Writing Center and taught courses in literature and composition. She was involved in the interdisciplinary Center for Culture, History and the Environment (CHE) and served as one of its graduate representatives in the academic year 2011-2012. Her article on the work of contemporary poet Oni Buchanan appeared in the fall 2011 issue of The Journal of Modern Literature.
While participating in the Sawyer Seminar, Niemann developed her dissertation "Organic Forms: The Life of American Poetics, 1945-2010." This dissertation studies organic form in poetry and the organic food and farming movement in the postwar United States, asking how these divergent ways of thinking about the organic may contest, or may be co-opted by, biopolitical discourses. She argues that revisions of organic form have played a key role in the proliferation of formally diverse poetries in the U.S. since 1945. Organic form empowers divergent poetic schools and movements, including some that are not usually associated with organicism or even disavow it. While discourses of the organic have been criticized for valuing closure, holism, and the local too highly, Niemann looks at the way poets who experiment with organic form and thinkers in the organic food and farming movement contest that assessment. Through the organic, such thinkers arrive at an ecological vision of interconnectedness that questions the epistemological premises of biopolitical discourses and disciplinary practices. Discourses of the organic, whether they seek to explain poetry, community, or agriculture, attend to processes in which growing and making, or nature and culture, are inextricable. What forms does life take and what forms foster it? Does life require traditional forms and disciplines or on the contrary demand experiment and new invention? To explore answers to these questions, Niemann examines prose works of poetics and poems by poets such as Charles Olson, Muriel Rukeyser, Lorine Niedecker, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder, Ronald Johnson, and Juliana Spahr alongside cultural documents of the organic food and farming movement, including books by J. I. Rodale, Helen and Scott Nearing, and Wendell Berry.
Stephanie Youngblood - Dissertation Fellow, Spring 2012
Stephanie Youngblood received her PhD in Literary Studies at UW-Madison in the spring of 2014. As a fellow, she worked on her dissertation, "Self-Involved Subjects: Queer Figures and the Body of Testimony in Contemporary American Literature," which explores the rhetoric of testimony and the body in American literature responding to AIDS and 9/11. She has a Master's in Women's Studies from the University of Oxford and in English and Related Literature from the University of York. In 2013-2014 Michelle returned to a Center fellowship as a Public Humanities Fellow, working at Wisconsin Public Radio and To the Best of Our Knowledge.
Youngblood's dissertation explores the rhetoric of testimony and the body in American literature responding to AIDS and 9/11. She traces how testimony emerges through, rather than in spite of, the limits of language. The project engages biopolitics and the rhetoric of life through her focus on the body and figurative language in testimonial literature. She thinks through, on the one hand, how human life is made sustainable according to certain modes of recognition and legibility in relation to the body and, on the other hand, how figurative language engages and embodies these life and death concerns. The project thus explores how literature negotiates both revitalization and disfigurement as important components of testimony, and the ways in which figurative language both undermines and reinstalls “life” as the foundation for testimonial response. In other words, how does life, framed through the biological body, function as a discursive strategy within testimonial response?