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First Book Institute


The First Book Institute

June 5-11, 2016

Hosted by the Center for American Literary Studies

at Pennsylvania State University


      • Sean X. Goudie, Director of the Center for American Literary Studies and Winner of the MLA Prize for a First Book
      • Priscilla Wald, Professor of English and Women's Studies, Duke University and Editor of American Literature

Institute Faculty

Penn State professors Jessamyn Abel, Hester Blum, Chris Castiglia, Tina Chen, Ariane Cruz, Jonathan Eburne, Debra Hawhee, John Marsh, Janet Lyon, Carla Mulford, Chris Reed, and Ben Schreier.

The stakes of successful publishing by early career professors are more urgent than ever given the current state of higher education promotion and publishing.  Responding to a glaring need in the field, the First Book Institute features workshops and presentations led by institute faculty aimed at assisting participants in transforming their book projects into ones that promise to make the most significant impact possible on the field and thus land them a publishing contract with a top university press.

The 2016 First Book Institute participants include:

  • Kelly L. Bezio, Assistant Professor of English, Texas A & M—Corpus Christi
Project Title: Communicable Disease in the American Literary Imagination

  • Brianna Burke, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities and American Indian Studies, Department of English, Iowa State University
Project Title: Becoming Beast: The Humanimal in Climate Justice Literatures

  • Danielle Christmas, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project Title: Auschwitz and the Plantation: Labor and Social Death in American Holocaust and Slavery Fiction

  • Joseph Darda, Assistant Professor of English, Texas Christian University

Project Title: Empire of Defense: Race and the Cultural Politics of Permanent War

  • Gordon Fraser,  Assistant Professor of English, North Dakota State University

Project Title: Nationalist Cosmologies: Revolution, Astronomy, and the Limits of the Universal in Nineteenth-Century America

  • Kya Mangrum, Mellon Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of English, Cornell University

Project Title: How Deep and Dark: Photography, Slavery, and the Limits of Narrative

  • Matthew Schilleman, Fellow, Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Amherst College

Project Title: Typewriter Psyche: Office Media and the Techno-Inscriptive Origins of Modernism

  • Lindsay Thomas, Assistant Professor of English, Clemson University

Project Title: Training for Catastrophe: Preparedness Media, Speculative Fiction, and the Management of the Future


Learn more about the First Book Institute from this short video, featuring the directors and the 2013 First Book Institute participants.

"The Institute has given me a whole new perspective on my project.  
I have all kinds of ideas for how I'm going to go forward from here."
-- Samaine Lockwood, 2013 participant

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