Programs and Series

First Book Institute

First Book Institute


The 2023 First Book Institute

Hosted by the Center for American Literary Studies

Pennsylvania State University

June 4-10, 2023

First Book Institute 2


  • 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 Co-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—now in its eleventh year—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. 

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

Margarita Castromán Soto, Assistant Professor of English, Rice University
Project Title: Collecting Race: The Archival Predicament in Twentieth Century Black Literature and Culture

Valentina Montero Román, Assistant Professor of English, University of California, Irvine
Project Title: Modernizing the Mind: Gender, Race, and Cognitive Citizenship

Clare Mullaney, Assistant Professor of English, Clemson University
Project Title: A Word Made Flesh: Disability and Editorship in U.S. Literary Culture

Sarah Nance, Assistant Professor of English, United States Air Force Academy
Project Title: Monumental Poetics: The Long Duration of Illness, Bodies, and Memory

Melissa Parrish, Assistant Professor of English, Smith College
Project Title: Situation Normal: Emergency Poetics and the Rise of the National Security State

Samantha Pergadia, Assistant Professor of English, Southern Methodist University
Project Title: Slavery’s Slaughterhouse: Envisioning Multispecies Ethics in an Antiblack World

Spencer Tricker, Assistant Professor of English, Clark University
Project Title: Imminent Communities: Liberal Cosmopolitanism and Empire in Transpacific Literature

Jennifer Wang, Assistant Professor of English, Middlebury College
Project Title: Oblique Aesthetics: Race, Transpacific Capital, and Literary Form in the Twenty-First Century

Learn more about the First Book Institute from this short video featuring the co-directors and participants of the inaugural 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."