To request readings or to be placed on our listserv, please contact donjamesmclaughlin at or kalyann at

Spring 2014 Schedule:  

Thursday, February 13, 5 pm, FBH 330

Caleb Smith, Professor of English, Yale University

Talk: "Crime Scenes: Fictions of Jurisdiction and the Cherokee Diaspora".

Tuesday, March 4th, 530 pm, FBH 330 

Amy Kaplan, Penn English, "Zionism as Anticolonialism: The Case of Exodus"

Tuesday, March 18

Natalie Cecire, Yale University (WIP)

Cosponsored with Mods

Thursday, March 20

Ana Schwartz, Penn English (WIP)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 5 pm

Andrew Rubin, Georgetown University (WIP)

Wednesday, April 16th, 5 pm

Heather J. Hicks, Villanova University (WIP)

 Wednesday, April 25th, 5 pm

Anna Brickhouse, University of Virginia (WIP)


Fall 2013 Archive: 

Wednesday, September 25th, 5 pm FBH 330

Introductory Meeting

Wednesday, October 16th, 5 pm FBH 330

Crystal Parikh, NYU (WIP) from Writing Human Rights (forthcoming)

Co-sponsored with Latitudes

 Monday, October 28th, 6 pm FBH 330 Grad Lounge

Thomas Dichter (Penn English) will be workshopping a chapter from his dissertation, “Race and the Rhetoric of Carceral Violence: A Genealogy of Mass Imprisonment.” The chapter is called “New Threadbare Lies: Modern Black Criminality Discourse and Its Critics, 1892-1902”

Wednesday, November 6th, 630 pm FBH Faculty Lounge (First Floor)

Travis Foster, Villanova University (WIP)

Prof. Foster will be presenting a chapter from a larger book project titled Democratic Affections: Literary Convention and the Politics of Friendship in Civil War America. This project, he writes, “identifies a body of widely circulating yet critically neglected texts that depart from dominant postbellum historiography by fermenting dissent and division rather than national reunion and racialized fraternity.”

Wednesday, November 13th, 530 pm FBH Faculty Lounge (First Floor)

Lara Cohen, Swarthmore University (WIP)

Prof. Cohen will be workshopping a paper “about mid-nineteenth-century city mysteries and the invention of the underground.” “What's fascinated me about the city mysteries,” Cohen writes in an email to Don James, “is how inseparable their figurative undergrounds are from literal undergrounds. So the paper will ask how our notions of the underground might change if we traced their roots back to the actual underground spaces—tunnels, caverns, crypts, cellars—that subcultures consistently inhabit in city mysteries.”

 Thursday, December 5th, 6 pm FBH 330 Grad Lounge

Jean-Christophe Cloutier, Penn English 

Prof. Cloutier will be presenting a lecture titled "L’Archive est d’Hommage: The Spontaneous, Skeletonized, Oeuvre of Jack Kerouac". Below is an abstract: 

Focusing on the posthumously published Visions of Cody (1972), I propose that for Jack Kerouac building an archive “on the run” is the only way to preserve the origin of ideas—of the creative process itself—and that this recording process is also one of his only sources of “joy”—the balm against his ingrained “mal d’archive,” what he called “that horrible homelessness all French-Canadians abroad in America have.” Further, his thirst for provenance also leads him to undertake what might be best described, for the very Catholic Kerouac, as pilgrimages to important sites of commencement; his peripatetic life is thus not solely a means of “getting away,” but a wider search for understanding himself and the friends he loves and admires, most notably Cody Pomeray (Neal Cassady). Finally, these treks to originary sites become an integral part of his method, and form, of storytelling, and thus prefigure Kerouac’s visits to library archives late in life. This final trip, as dramatized inSatori in Paris, marks the chronological end point—and the ideological exhaustion—of the entire Duluoz Legend, the name Kerouac gave to his autobiographical set of fiction. Thus, the archival vagabondage of late Kerouac in Satori in Paris is the culmination of a lifelong dedication to the creation and maintenance of a personal archive sustained as a consolation against the perennial homesickness he was never able to shake off.

 Spring 2013 Archive: 

January 30th; 5:30 pm, FBH 224
Evie Shockley, Rutgers University -- New Brunswick, Dept. of English
"Colorblind(ed): Visuality, Texuality, and Slavery in Rita Dove's and George Elliott Clarke's Verse Plays." 

February 20th; 5 pm, FBH 231
Kyla Tompkins, Professor of English and Gender and Women's Studies, Pomona College
"Eat, Sex, Race" <Please e-mail lsod @ for a copy of the reading>  

March 12th; 4:30 pm, FBH 330 (Grad Lounge)
Edlie Wong, University of Maryland -- College Park, Dept. of English
"In a Future Tense: Immigration Law, Counterfactual Histories, and Chinese Invasion" 

April 4th; 4:30 pm, FBH 330 (Grad Lounge)
Sunny Yang, PhD Candidate, English, Penn

April 10th; 5:30 pm, FBH Faculty Lounge
Herman Beavers, Professor of English and Africana Studies, Penn
Work-in-Progress: "Across Distances Without Recognition: Susceptibility, Immunity, and the Dilemma of Speculative Agency in A Mercy." 


Fall 2012 Archive

Wednesday, Sept. 26th; 6pm, FBH 330 (Grad Lounge)
Welcoming Reception
Food and wine will be provided. All are welcome!

**Thursday, Oct. 4th; 4pm, FBH 330 (Grad Lounge)**
Nico Slate, Carnegie Mellon, Dept. of History
Book talk for his recent publication, Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India
Co-Sponsored with Latitudes 

Wednesday, Oct. 17th; 6pm, FBH 330 (Grad Lounge)
Jessica Lewis-Turner, Temple University, Dept. of English
Work in Progress: Excerpt from "American Hermaphrodite: Fantasies of Sexual Intersection in the Long Nineteenth Century"

**Thursday, Oct. 25th; 5:30pm, Penn Bookstore**
Salamishah Tillet, University of Pennsylvania, Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies
Book Talk for her recent publication, Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post Civil-Rights Imagination

Wednesday, Nov. 14th; 6pm, FBH 330 (Grad Lounge)
Kate Huber, Temple University, Dept. of English
Work in Progress: Exceprt from "Translating Foreign Relations: Language Encounters in Cooper, Melville, and Twain"

Questions about the Graduate Program?
Contact Ann Marie Pitts,