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Jacob Myers


Office Hours

spring 2023

F 10:00am-11:30am or by appointment

Portrait of Jacob Myers looking up at flowers in a tree

M.A. with distinction, English, Georgetown University, 2018
- Thesis Title: "Feeling Waste: Material Sensations in the Eighteenth Century"

B.A., English, Theater, and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Oberlin College, 2012

Jacob Myers is a PhD candidate whose research focuses on transatlantic eighteenth-century literature and the history of science. He pursues projects on colonialism and anti-colonialism, race, public health, and the environment.

His dissertation, “Noxious Life: Figuring Vermin in the Natural Histories of the British Caribbean,” explores how island fauna were conceptualized as hazards to the West Indian plantocracy before emancipation. He argues colonizers developed cultural beliefs, health interventions, and land practices which defined their crops and bodies as constantly at risk to wild animals and their byproducts. Free and enslaved Africans, however, proposed alternative material and cosmological approaches that were more adaptive to the environment, making them sustinable but also hostile to European efforts. Working across Anglophone literature, scientific treatises, and folklore, his project reveals how human engagements with “noxious life” defined early Caribbean identity, the emergence of "modern" medicine and agriculture on the plantation, and resistance to the islands' political and epistemological hierarchy. His dissertation contends that tracking marginal creatures – rats, snakes, insects – across the archive can unearth the failures of colonial science and the importance of Afro-Caribbean animal knowledge to intellectual history. 

At Penn, Jacob has served as a co-coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality (Gen/Sex) Working Group from 2019 to 2021 as well as the 2019-2020 GEA's Funding Librarian. He has also co-organized film events at the Annenberg Center, the Rotunda, and the Lightbox Film Center. Before coming to Philadelphia, Jacob performed curatorial research for the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms and the Paley Center for Media, and he taught literature and film/media studies at Macao Polytechnic Institute and BNU-HKBU United International College. He has received grants for his work from the Fulbright Foundation and UN Women.

Courses Taught