Scholarly Activities: 2023 in Review

1.I got a grant. Last year, the most interesting news for me was probably the grant I am a part of, "Responsible Datasets in Context."


The grant is split between five different universities and is funded by the Mozilla Foundation. The total grant award is $150,000, of which Lehigh University will be getting around $25,000. The lead PI on the grant is Melanie Walsh of the University of Washington. We'll be working on the grant outputs this coming spring (2024), so expect to hear more about it soon. 

2. I wrote a new article. I also wrote an article for a journal that was accepted for publication after peer review. The article will be appearing in spring 2024. The article is called "Catachresis at the Origin: Names and Power in Toni Morrison's Fiction." The article will be appearing in South Central Review. This will be my first ever published article on Toni Morrison's fiction. It's also the first time in a long time that I saw a CFP on the U-Penn CFP list, and wrote to guest editors out of the blue to express interest in writing something for a special issue. 

I'm hoping it will be part of a book project -- perhaps my next book will be called Catachresis: Names and Power? The idea is to take this concept of Spivak's and deploy it as a helpful way of thinking about naming, renaming, and misnaming in postcolonial and decolonial contexts. It's a "Spivakian" book, but not necessarily a book about Spivak per se. Other chapters from it might include an earlier piece I wrote for South Asian Review on Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, and a chapter on Mahasweta Devi's stories. 

3. Article #2. I wrote a chapter called, "The Modernist Archive Gap: Black Writers and Canonicity in the Digital Era" for the Bloomsbury Handbook of Modernist Archives. This chapter builds on earlier work I've been doing for several years around a phenomenon I call the "Archive Gap" (see my earlier article, "Beyond the Archive Gap"). In my digital projects, I am strongly invested in addressing and attempting to rectify the archive gap; here, the focus is specifically on how that plays out for modernist studies and early 20th century African American writing.  

3. At the MSA conference.


 
I gave a talk at the Modernist Studies Association in Brooklyn in November. I was on a panel honoring Susan Stanford Friedman; my brief remarks for that roundtable are here. Overall, I had a great time at this year's MSA -- the conference continues to be incredibly vibrant and rich. 

4. At the MLA convention. It was part of 2024, but I just gave a talk at the MLA, as part of a Banned Books roundtable. My brief remarks for that roundtable are here

5. Guest lecture on Claude McKay. I did a guest lecture at Germantown Friends School on Claude McKay. The focus was on McKay as an African diasporic writer and as a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. I also talked a little about his novel Romance in Marseille, which was finally published in 2021. The slides for that talk are here

6. I did a guest lecture on Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay! at Viola Lasmano's film class at Rutgers University in New Brunswick in October 2023. The slides for that guest lecture are here

7. In the spring I co-taught a graduate course on "Theories of Literature and Social Justice." As part of that, I wrote up a fairly comprehensive 'explainer' on Gayatri Spivak's "Can the Subaltern Speak?"  That explainer has been read more than 1200 times on my blog, and a PDF version of it has been read 700 times on Academia.edu. 

Ongoing projects 

I continued to work on a large digital project, African American Poetry: a Digital Anthology. I had a small internal grant on the project (FRG), which I used to hire a graduate research assistant, Miranda Alvarez, to work with me over the summer. Miranda mainly worked on the Arthur Schomburg author page on the site. Schomburg is an especially interesting figure -- someone who was an Afro-Puerto Rican immigrant in New York who would come to be at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. He is a key figure in African American literary history, who also remained interested in race and politics in the Hispanophone Caribbean throughout his career, as his various writings show.  

More generally, the "Anthology" continues to grow -- it now features more than 90 full-text books of poetry, digital editions of several poetry anthologies, and a considerable collection of periodical poetry as well. 

One important new facet of the site is the introduction of some quantitative analysis -- I've begun to assemble datasets to quantify African American poetry published during the period in question. An overview of that new quantitative element is here.

In the late summer, I submitted the project as a whole to Modnets for peer-review and indexing. The peer review led to some helpful feedback, and I am working on revisions that are still in progress.  

The usage of the site is quite good -- my Analytics tracker suggests that the site has about 7000 visitors a month during the school year (September-May), with a spike during Black History Month.