Writing Seminar Faculty, 2014-2015
The Princeton Writing Program is a multidisciplinary community of accomplished scholars and teachers. Faculty use their scholarly expertise to develop writing-intensive seminars that teach students advanced techniques of academic inquiry and research.
All program faculty are trained to help students learn how to frame compelling questions and problems, position an argument within an academic debate, substantiate and organize claims, and purposefully integrate a variety of sources. This pedagogical approach lays an early foundation for the more
advanced writing projects students undertake later, including the Junior
Project and Senior Thesis.
Megan Brankley Abbas
Megan Brankley Abbas is a historian of the modern Islamic world who specializes in Muslim South and Southeast Asia. Her current project examines the intertwined history of Western academia and modern Islamic thought in 20th-century Indonesia in order to understand the shifting and contested boundaries between academic and religious ways of knowing Islam. Her other research interests include Islam and secularism, the histories of modern Indonesia, India, and Pakistan, and the role of religion in the Western university.
Kachina Allen is a cognitive psychologist who uses fMRI to study the neural correlates of behavior. Past research has included psychophysical and imaging studies on attention, hearing, language, and male and female orgasms. Her passion for neuroscience is paired with a love of scientific writing, and in the future she hopes to combine these interests to research how people read academic texts.
Raphael Allison is a literary scholar whose work focuses on 20th-century American poetry. His most recent project examines the rise of poetry readings in the 1960s, arguing that many poets of the period both courted and resisted the increasingly public nature of poetic culture. His current project traces the role that found texts have played in American and British poetries of the past 100 years.
Yaron Aronowicz specializes in modernist and 20th-century literature. He is currently at work on a project that examines the fascinations of modern fiction, which focuses on how modernist novels by Virginia Woolf, Joseph Conrad, and D.H. Lawrence represent and conceptualize attentive modes and practices. He is also at work on a project on love and its endings in modernist fiction and poetry.
Ali Aslam is a political theorist who studies the relationships among contemporary architecture, democratic politics, and ethics. His research examines the ways in which architecture conditions political possibility, focusing on how it is possible to share the same spaces on a daily basis yet live in radically different worlds. In particular, he is interested in how conditions of oblivion and obliviousness are produced, sustained, and broken through architectural and democratic practices.
Sara Bryant specializes in 20th- and 21st-century literature and film, with an emphasis on transatlantic modernism. Her current project examines how verbal and visual arts engage with technologies of voice from the 1920s to the beginning of World War II. Other research interests include Irish drama, gender and sexuality studies, and life writing. Recent work has been published in Modern Fiction Studies.
Joseph Califf is a biological anthropologist whose interests range from behavioral endocrinology and human evolution to science journalism and education. He studies the complex interrelationships among genes, hormones, social environment, and behavior. In particular, his research focuses on the contribution of genetic variation and numerous nongenetic factors to individual differences in testosterone and stress hormone levels.
Genevieve Creedon is a literary scholar and an environmental humanist. She studies cultural representations of the environment and animals and the ways in which these representations shape how we think and feel about nature. Her current book project is a cultural history of wonder in U.S. institutions––including national parks, zoos, and Disney theme parks. Other interests include transnational American Studies, post-humanism, global Anglophone and Francophone literatures, and public humanities. She is also a poet and nonfiction writer.
Alexander Davis is a sociologist who specializes in culture, gender, and sexualities. His current research traces the historical emergence of gender-segregated public restrooms in the United States and investigates how various social institutions have arbitrated conflicts about their separation and equity over the course of the 20th century. His other projects have ranged from ethnographic explorations of the gendered and sexual dimensions of fashion to quantitative analyses of attitudes about women’s rights and gay rights around the world.
Kristin Dombek writes about performance, rhetoric, and belief in a wide range of contexts, including contemporary American religion, our relationship to other animals, and college writing pedagogy. Her writing tends to explore the secular aspects of religion and the religious aspects of secularism. Her essays can be found in n+1, TDR (The Drama Review), and The Painted Bride Quarterly, among other places, and she is co-authorofCritical Passages: Teaching the Transition to College Composition.
Khristina Gonzalez works on 19th-century English literature and culture, specializing in the Victorian novel, the history of social reform, and constructions of villainy/monstrosity. She is currently at work on a book that argues that a new form of villainy, which she calls “malevolent civility,” emerges in the Victorian novel. Her study traces fear of that villainy through Victorian reform tracts and novels as they grapple with the concern that some social outcasts would adopt the trappings of civility but remain essentially alien. Other research interests include the history of the novel, the imperial project, Irish modernism, and intersections of aesthetics and politics.
Dov Weinryb Grohsgal
Dov Weinryb Grohsgal is a historian of United States history, with a focus on 20th-century American political history. His current project explores American civil rights policy in the 1960s and early 1970s, with specific interest in the relationship between civil rights policy and political strategy. His other academic concentrations include United States intellectual history and the history of the American city.
Andy Hakim studies 20th-century American fiction, film, and culture. He is currently working on a book that charts the evolution of a widespread cultural fascination with individual prestige that took shape in the United States over the course of the last century. Tracing the contours of the myth of the self-made man, he explores the ways media technology has intensified this fascination and reshaped American ideals about what it means to be “somebody.” Other research interests include celebrity culture, race and ethnicity, detective fiction, and the literature of Los Angeles and the West.
Timothy Haupt is an anthropologist whose ethnographic work explores tensions involved in neoliberal state experiments to “activate” the long-term unemployed, which have unsettled the meaning and value of citizenship, national identity, and productivity in Germany. He is currently working on a project that investigates how hip hop artists in Berlin are re-envisioning national identity through at times paradoxically ironic and authentic appropriations and contestations of the national past.
David Hershinow is a literary critic specializing in early modern literature and culture, as well as intellectual history and critical theory. His current book project focuses on the Renaissance’s growing fascination with the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic, a radical eccentric whom Plato described as a “Socrates gone mad.” Centering on Shakespeare, the project draws out the philosophical puzzles inherent to this Diogenes obsession, and then traces its aftermath through to 20th-century philosophy. Lately, he’s been investigating the medieval and early modern history of money and the factors that were understood to determine its value.
Amanda Irwin Wilkins
Amanda Irwin Wilkins studies literature from between the wars, particularly narratives that imagine war from the relatively safe space of home. She explores the ways in which writers navigate the aftermath of collective or individual trauma and use historical analogies to make sense of the present and future. Her work in literary studies complements her work on establishing interdisciplinary communities of writers in the classroom and other spaces across the university.
Steven Kelts is a political theorist who specializes in the history of political thought. He is at work on a book about the surprising egalitarianism of John Locke’s theory of property, to be followed with a project on James Madison's economic vision and the U.S. Constitution. Steven teaches about the divergent conceptions of freedom–from republican to liberal, libertarian to multicultural–that make up the Western heritage of liberty.
Leah Klement is a literary scholar who studies the reception of classical literature in medieval Britain, broadly defined. Her current project examines the way Lucan’s Bellum Civile,and particularly his concept of “wars worse than civil,” provided a model for those on both sides of England’s medieval imperial campaigns of how epic poetry can contest imperial projects as well as support them. Other research interests include Hiberno- and Anglo-Latin and bilingualism, the apocalyptic tradition, romance and historiography, and the translation of classical literature in medieval Ireland.
Christopher M. Kurpiewski
Christopher M. Kurpiewski is a historian who studies the intersection of religion, power, and gender in medieval Europe. His current project attempts to better understand the rhetoric and reality of the collaborative relationship claimed by confessors and their “spiritual daughters” who were pursuing greater religion for themselves in 13th- and 14th-century Germany. Other interests include cultural studies, folklore, evolutionary psychology, and the relationship between community and memory. He is published in the Journal of Medieval History.
George Laufenberg is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in religion and medicine. He studies contemporary forms of worship, community-making, and personal and social transformation in the U.S. For his current project, he conducted ethnographic fieldwork with a group of American clinical mental health professionals who study and teach practices of “complementary and alternative medicine”—metaphysically inflected forms of care with connections to healing traditions in native North America and esotericism in Western Europe. His interdisciplinary background involves study in poetry, cultural studies, and political economy, as well as professional work in media, politics, and mental health care.
Ross Lerner specializes in early modern literature, especially in English. He is currently finishing a project on literature and religious fanaticism during the Reformation. He is also interested more broadly in poetry and poetics, medieval literature, religious studies and theology, the history of philosophy, American and African American studies, critical race theory, and the history and theory of punishment, slavery, and incarceration.
Emma Ljung, a classical archaeologist, examines Mediterranean landscapes and their influence on classical Greek and Roman societies. She is especially interested in smaller communities and the economic problem-solving mechanisms shaped by their cultural and natural constraints. She currently directs the Santa Susana Archaeological Project, an excavation that seeks to understand the complex history of a Roman villa in the central Alentejo, Portugal.
Andrea Mazzariello is a composer, performer, and writer. His creative output is diverse, from concert music to rock songs, sound design, prose, and collage. His scholarly pursuits include the study of popular music and vinyl culture. He is especially interested in the ways that composers and performers negotiate issues of physicality, pushing their bodies to develop new and novel approaches to music-making.
Maria Medvedeva is a sociologist of immigration. Her particular areas of interest are immigration policies and immigrant linguistic adaptation. She is currently conducting a study of how highly educated immigrant parents use the “educated person” framework to talk about and shape the adaptation experiences of their children. Her recent quantitative research about the linguistic adaptation of adolescent children of immigrants is published inInternational Migration Review, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, and Encyclopedia of Adolescence.
Anne Hirsch Moffitt
Anne Hirsch Moffitt specializes in 20th-century literary modernism, with a particular interest in the ways modernism as a form and concept traveled between and beyond metropoles. Her current project looks at novels from the U.S. and Ireland as case studies for how modernist forms were used to represent local rural traditional cultures being transformed by the large-scale social upheaval wrought by slavery, colonialism, war, and nation-building. A second project seeks to uncover early 20th-century conversations between spheres of modern literature and modern dance. Broader research interests include transatlantic studies, postcolonial and diasporic literature, and theories of space, place, and circulation.
Patrick W. Moran
Patrick W. Moran is a literary scholar who focuses on British literature and material culture. He is currently working on a book entitled “Playing Modern,” which looks at how childish things, such as toy theaters, butterfly hunts, and kaleidoscopes, informed the 20th-century novel. In addition to this work, he has written on such topics as hoarding, the social construction of disease, pickpockets, and spy fiction. Recent work has appeared inJames Joyce Quarterly and Éire-Ireland.
Erin Raffety is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in studies of family, childhood, disability, foster care, and adoption. Her current project, set in Southwest Guangxi, China, argues that seemingly marginal practices of foster care among poor, elderly women and abandoned, disabled children challenge state and societal conventions of family in modern China. She is presently working on an article analyzing the paradigmatic extremes in childhood as presented in Chinese media (from “little emperors” to “left behind children”), as well as exploring an ethnographic project on autism in modern China.
M.V. Ramana is a physicist by training and is engaged in research on a broad range of topics, including those related to energy, environment, security, and science and technology policy. He is the author of The Power of Promise, about nuclear energy in India, and co-editor of Prisoners of the Nuclear Dream. His current research projects focus on debates about the expansion of nuclear power in the context of nuclear disarmament and climate change.
Timothy Recuber is a sociologist who focuses on mass media and consumer culture. He has written about the deployment of therapeutic discourse in online archives devoted to disasters and their victims, about the ways in which popular culture has helped inspire fears of terrorism, and about the impact of “immersive” projection technology and theater architecture on contemporary cinema spectatorship. Other scholarly interests include urban studies, race and ethnicity, and the sociology of emotion.
Sajan Saini is a materials scientist and writer whose popular science articles examine the impact of complex technologies in our modern engineered society. He has conducted research in optical communications and solar cell devices, taught courses on introductory modern physics and astronomy at Queens College (CUNY), and authored book chapters on photonics and spectroscopy. He is a cofounder of the Science Action student video project at Princeton and is currently working on a book about the invention of parallel microchip computing.
Keith Shaw specializes in modern Western political theory and environmental philosophy. He studies the tensions between liberalism and sustainability to find ways of making our politics more accommodating to ecological concerns. In particular, he explores the conflicts between property rights and environmental regulation and shows how the liberal conception of the individual is compatible with a robust form of environmentalism. Other research interests include deep ecology, bioethics, the right to privacy, and American political thought.
Cecily Swanson specializes in modernist and 20th-century American literature. Her book project, “The Salon Writers,” explores modernism’s proliferation of conversational writing practices, identifying the literary salon as a key site for the reassessment of the materiality of the text. Her second project examines the rise of the author interview. She is also interested in archival theory and practice. As cofounder of a web forum for archival research, “Archive Notebook,” she works to facilitate scholarly sharing of archival findings.
Ken Urban is a playwright and screenwriter. His plays have been produced and developed at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, 59E59 Theatres, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Summer Play Festival at The Public, Donmar Warehouse, Studio 42, Theatre @ Boston Court, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Playwrights Horizons, and Primary Stages. Awards include the Weissberger Playwriting Award, Huntington Playwriting Fellowship, and MacDowell Colony Fellowships. The feature film adaptation of his play The Happy Sad, with a screenplay by the author, screened at over 25 festivals, with theatrical releases in New York and Los Angeles. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, and his essays have appeared in Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary American Playwrights, Contemporary Theatre Review, Modern Drama, PAJ, and New Theatre Quarterly.
Erin Vearncombe studies religions of Mediterranean antiquity with a focus on the origins and development of the early Jesus movement. Recent research combines cultural anthropological work with scholarship on dress in order to evaluate the role of clothing in the construction of Christian identity. She is also interested in the relationships among religion, text, and material culture. Her current project explores the use of sacred texts as objects, specifically the wearing of gospel texts for preventative or protective purposes.
Benjamin Weber studies the development of English literature and intellectual culture in the Middle Ages. He is particularly interested in the influence of Latin literature on the development of Old English poetry, and his current project focuses on the role played by poetic translations in Anglo-Saxon attempts to appropriate Latin literary culture. Other research interests include medieval poetics (especially alliterative verse), Old Norse literature, medieval theories of rhetoric, and the reception of Classical texts in the Middle Ages.
Brendan Wright is a political theorist who studies the relationships among democratic politics, law, and religion. His current project investigates the ways in which religious traditions such as Christianity constitute a principal aesthetic for democratic claims-making in American political culture. Other research interests include the politics of religious liberty and the role of political thought and practice in American political development.
Andrew Zwicker is a physicist and science educator. His research interests include the development of fusion energy, dusty plasmas, and atmospheric plasmas for use as an acoustical speaker. His educational interests include the development of plasmas for laboratory courses and issues at the interface between science and society, and science and art. He is the editor of the newsletter Physics and Society and an organizer of the Art of Science competition.