Faculty and Staff Directory
Director, First-Year English
|Department:||English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Ph.D., English, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2010
B.A., English, The Ohio State University, 1999
Digital humanities; computational and quantitative research methods; British literature; language and geopolitics.
Peter and Bonnie McCausland Faculty Fellow, 2020-2022
College of Arts and Sciences Innovative Teaching Associate, 2020-2022
ENGL 102: Researching and Writing About Language and Human Rights
ENGL 280: Literature and Society
ENGL 282: Literature and Ethnic Conflict
SCHC 383: Mathematics for Shakespeare
ENGL 804: Digital Humanities
ENGL 382: The Enlightenment
Current Research Projects
I write and teach about literature, intellectual history, and digital humanities. Broadly speaking, I'm interested in the ways that technology affects communication. My first book, The Invention of English Criticism, 1650-1760 (Cambridge University Press, 2015) describes the popularization of literary debate over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This book was motivated by a desire to understand how, given the immutable fact that critics never agree and about much of anything, we can know much of anything about literature and sometimes even come to a shared understanding. Since completing that book, my research has expanded this line of inquiry into the present, asking how new forms of digital writing might make possible new ways of thinking and talking about literature and history. I’m particularly interested in computational linguistics, network science, geospatial modeling, and agent-based simulation.
I usually am juggling several ongoing digital humanities research projects. Any students (undergraduate or graduate) who would like to work on DH research for course credit as an independent study should apply by emailing me directly at the address above.
Recent and Ongoing Publications
• Formal Expressions: Quantitative Theory for Literary Study (under consideration)
• The Invention of English Criticism, 1650 - 1760 (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
• “Literatures of the New Realism: Anil’s Ghost, Half of a Yellow Sun, and the Problem of Ethnic Conflict,” (forthcoming in Intertexts).
• “Infrastructural Semantics: Postal Networks and Statistical Accounts in Scotland, 1790-1845.” Eric Gidal and Michael Gavin. International Journal of Geographical Information Science (2019).
• “How to Think about EEBO,” Textual Cultures 11, 1-2 (2017 ): 70-105.
• “Spaces of Meaning: Vector Semantics, Conceptual History, and Close Reading,” Michael Gavin, Collin Jennings, Lauren Kersey, and Brad Pasanek, Debates in Digital Humanities 2019, ed. Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 243-67.
• “Distant Reading the Body, 1640-1700,” Rachel Mann and Michael Gavin, Review of English Studies (January 2019): 1-21.
• “Vector Semantics, William Empson, and the Study of Ambiguity,” Critical Inquiry 44 (Summer 2018): 641-73.
• “An Agent-based Computational Approach to the ‘Adam Smith Problem’,” Historical Social Research 41, 1 (2018): 308-36.
• “Scotland’s Poetics of Space: An Experiment in Geospatial Semantics,” Michael Gavin and Eric Gidal, Cultural Analytics (November, 2017) doi:10.22148/16.017.
• “Historical Text Networks: The Sociology of Early English Criticism,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 50, 1 (Fall 2016): 53-80.
• “Agent-Based Modeling and Historical Simulation,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 8, 4 (2014).