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Department of English Language and Literature

Faculty and Staff Directory

Michael Gavin

Title: Associate Professor
Department: English Language and Literature
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-3741
Office: HUO 404
Resources: English Language and Literature


Ph.D., English, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2010
B.A., English, The Ohio State University, 1999


Digital Humanities
Restoration and 18th-century English Literature and Culture


I regularly teach courses and supervise students in British literature and digital humanities.  Recent courses include:

SCHC 452: Digital Humanities: Mapping Cultural and Environmental History
ENGL 718: English Literature of the later Eighteenth Century
ENGL 415: The English Novel
ENGL 288: Introduction to British Literature

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.


The Invention of English Criticism, 1650 - 1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

   • “Scotland’s Poetics of Space: An Experiment in Geospatial Semantics,” Michael Gavin and Eric Gidal, Cultural Analytics (forthcoming)
   • “Vector Semantics, William Empson, and the Study of Ambiguity,” Critical Inquiry (forthcoming)
   • “Spaces of Meaning: Vector Semantics, Conceptual History, and Close Reading,” Michael Gavin, Collin Jennings, Lauren
Kersey, and Brad Pasanek, Debates in Digital Humanities (forthcoming)
   • “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)
   • “Real Robinson Crusoe,” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 25, 2 (Winter 2012-13): 301-25
   • “Writing Print Cultures Past: Literary Criticism and Book History,” Book History 15 (2012): 26-47
   • “Critics and Criticism in the Poetry of Anne Finch,” ELH 78, 3 (Fall 2011): 633-55
   • “James Boswell and the Uses of Criticism,” SEL 50, 3 (Summer 2010): 665-81

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.