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First Book Institute


The Sixth Annual First Book Institute

Hosted by the Center for American Literary Studies

Pennsylvania State University

June 3-9, 2018


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

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.  Institute faculty include Penn State professors Kendra Boileau (Editor-in-Chief, Penn State Press), Chris Castiglia, Tina Chen, Claire Colebrook, Amy Greenberg, Jonathan Marks, Jeff Nealon, Steele Nowlin, Matthew Restall, Matt Tierney, and Sarah Townsend.

Congratulations to the eight successful applicants to this year’s institute!  They are:

  •  Ben Bascom, Assistant Professor of English, Ball State University

      Project Title: Feeling Singular: Masculinity and Desire in the Early United States

  •  Jordan Carroll, Postdoctoral Scholar and Associate Director, ModLab Digital Humanities Lab, Department of  English, University of California, Davis

      Project Title: Publishing the Unpublishable: Obscenity and Editorship in U. S. Literary Culture

  •  Juliana Chow, Assistant Professor of English, Saint Louis University

 Project Title: Diminishment: Partial Readings in American Regionalism and the Casualties of Natural     History

  •  Mary Kuhn, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities, University of Virginia

      Project Title: The Garden Politic: Radical Plants in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

      Project Title: Manufacturing Prisoner-Patient Consent: Race, Violence, and the Medical Archive

  •  Kathryn Walkiewicz, Assistant Professor of Literature, University of California San Diego

      Project Title: Un-tied States: Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Indigeneity and Territory

  •  Sunny Xiang, Assistant Professor of English, Yale University

      Project Title: Neutral Tones: A Sense of Race

  •  Christine Yao, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of British Columbia

      Project Title: Disaffected: The Cultural Politics of Unfeeling in Nineteenth-Century America

Learn more about the First Book Institute--now in its sixth year--from this short video featuring the co-directors and participants of the 2013 First Book Institute.

"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