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Jacob Myers


Office Hours

spring 2022

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 doctoral candidate in English with a certificate in Cinema & Media Studies. He focuses on eighteenth-century literature and media at Penn, and he researches the rhetorics of natural history, the narratives of British empire and colonialism, and the deep history of visual technologies. His dissertation, "Noxious Foes: Figuring Vermin in the Natural Histories of the British Caribbean," explores how colonizers, enslaved laborers, and local ritual specialists conceptualized plantation fauna in the British West Indies. Bringing together colonial literature, scientific treatises, and folklore, his project traces how unruly animal subjects revealed the weaknesses of British naturalist practices and how the islands' inhabitants negotiated distinctly Caribbean forms of engagement with the environment. His dissertation asks and answers: What narratives were used to rationalize the evident power of non-European naturalist systems that did not appear to colonizers as commensurate with Western science, like obeah lists or Creole dinner prayer? How did aesthetic categories, like the picturesque, or visual tools, like the microscope, promise to bring previously invisible specimens into view when their images could not be wholly reproduced in writing? How were ideologies of “cultivation,” “conservation,” and “extermination” navigated when the effects of New World creatures on European and African bodies were not yet certain?

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. In 2021, he was awarded a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. He has also co-organized film events at the Annenberg Center, the Rotunda, and the Lightbox Film Center. He currently acts as the caretaker for the Anthropocene and Animal Studies Reading Group.

Before coming to Philadelphia, Jacob served in a variety of curatorial and event-programming roles. For the 2014-2015 season, he curated television representations of race and gender at the Paley Center for Media, and his exhibition work included Cracking the Code: Media Portrayals of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and A Tribute to African-American Achievements in Television. During the 2015-2016 academic year, he completed a Fulbright at the Macao Polytechnic Institute where he taught British and American literature and co-directed cultural programming for university students. Jacob interned for the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms, where he analyzed the aesthetics of early American porcelain wares and the exchange of material goods between the Founding Fathers as a method of bond-building. In 2018, he was awarded a UN Women HeForShe Graduate Fellowship to serve in the Gender+ Justice Initiative where he collaborated with staff members on the year's #MeToo movement programming.

Courses Taught