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Ethan Plaue

Ethan Plaue is a doctoral candidate in English with a certificate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in early American literature, global Romanticism, history and theory of media, comparative race and empire studies, and critical AI and data studies. He earned his B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University and his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. An article drawn from his dissertation is forthcoming in PMLA. Other works have appeared in American Literature, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, Early American Literature, and e-flux. His article, “The Parasitical Trick: Mediating Dispossession in Early America,” received an Honorable Mention for the 2023 Norman Foerster Prize for the best essay published annually in American Literature.

His dissertation is an intellectual history of mediation told through the literature and archives of transnational American Romanticism. He argues that Romantic writers played a key role in shaping mediation’s conceptual development by repurposing earlier notions of the idea, first articulated in Aristotelian logic and medieval theology, into a new interpretative device for understanding the racial and capitalist reorganization of social life in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world. Through readings of literary works by Hannah Crafts, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Michel Maxwell Philip, and Jane Johnston Schoolcraft as well as archival texts including patents for fictitious inventions, theological treatises on capitalism, and scientific papers on statistical mechanics, the project uncovers the historical discourse of mediation as it shaped not only nineteenth-century ways of knowing but also the way we experience our mediated age today.

At UPenn, Ethan has taught undergraduate classes on American Gothic literature in the Department of English and graduate courses on critical data studies at the School of Social Policy and Practice. Additionally, he has coordinated the AmLit graduate working group, the Brown Bag series at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the poetry and poetics series Time Sensitive at Kelly Writers House. 

Articles and Book Chapters

Courses Taught

spring 2022

fall 2019