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Michael Edson

Michael Edson

WIHR funding will support Professor Edson's work on a book entitled Unworkable Interfaces: Cultural Memory and Poetic Annotation, 1700–1830.

Prof. Edson explains:

Faced with links, pop-ups, and embedded videos, today’s distracted digital reader may hear a familiar anxiety in Francis Hodgson’s 1807 protest about footnoted poetry: “it is impossible to judge of the general effect of a poem, if our attention is called off every moment to quotation and reference in the notes.” Hodgson, a classical translator, looked back on a century of printed notes and spoke from experience, his own published translations bursting with annotations, some of them relevant but many distractingly unrelated to the poetry at hand. Challenged to find reliable information in the era of the filter bubble, media users today may also feel something of Hodgson’s frustration with notes for their constructing literary traditions through erroneousand partisan information. As these similarities suggest, study of printed foot- and endnotes can illuminate the challenges of preserving cultural memory under modern digital conditions and, as such, further the goal of the 2017 NEH initiative, “The Common Good.” My book project, titled “Unworkable Interfaces: Cultural Memory and Poetic Annotation, 17001830,considers how poets and annotators managed information and curated culture before the information age. Hodgson portrait

Michelle Jarman

Jarman photo

WIHR funding will support Professor Jarman's book project in literary and cultural disability studies entitled Relations of Dis/Repair: Reading Racial (In)justice through Crip Minds.

In a cultural moment of divisiveness, in which the United States is witnessing a virulent resurgence of white nationalism, xenophobia, objectification of women, and targeting of immigrants and LGBTQI communities, this project looks to literature, memoir, and public media to trace unexpected, improvisational relationships that emerge across seeming chasms of difference. 

Prof. Jarman explains:

In my framing of “relations of dis/repair,” I connect the insights of disability studies—that challenge efforts of fixing, repair, or normalization—to relational orientations to justice. Working within traditions of ethnic studies and feminist theory, I am invested in intersectional frameworks; however, while these approaches are crucial to understanding interlocking forces of marginalization, I develop relational approaches to expand the boundaries of analysis. This project looks to African American literature, for example, to consider intersectional representations of psychiatric disability, but also looks at figurations of relationships that provide a roadmap through dis/repair—not through restoration of body or mind, but through unlearning racism, ableism, and other forms of privilege.  This project also seeks to trace unfamiliar historical and theoretical relationships between race and mental disability. For example, Relations of Dis/Repair investigates genealogies of mental disability that take cultural trauma seriously, asking how mental disability is often produced by social inequities tied to racial, economic, and gendered injustice. My project is also interested in the ways certain mental diagnoses, specifically psychiatric diagnoses and autism, in the form of memoir, exhibit a pervasive whiteness; I trace this genealogy, and put these memoirs in conversation with growing body of work on racial injustice to ask what kinds of voices are missing, but also to thread an unexpected relationality between these bodies of work to suggest a shared architecture of meaning and cultural reframing.  Ultimately, against our current cultural backdrop of violence and division, this project seeks to magnify potential areas of transformation through connectedness, and in this way, calls attention to the importance of using humanities scholarship to enhance public discourse."

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