All posts by shawn_gonzalez

Brown Bag Lunch with Caroline Godart

On December 14, Comp Lit alum Caroline Godart returned to Rutgers to discuss the publication of her new book The Dimension of Difference: Space, Time and Bodies in Women’s Cinema and Continental Philosophy. She provided a brief overview of her project, connecting the analysis of space, time, and bodies in cinema with the work of philosophers Luce Irigaray, Henri Bergson, and Gilles Deleuze, and explaining her approach to theory-based feminist film criticism. She described the chapters, each of which focuses on the relationship between a theoretical concept and a film. In particular, she discussed two films by Claire Denis, Beau Travail and Trouble Every Day, at length, explaining why she chose to write about Denis’ most popular and least popular films side by side. She also explained the process of revising her dissertation for publication. An engaged discussion followed the presentation. Participants talked about Bergson’s concept of intuition and the relationship between intuition and identification as modes of approaching Hollywood or art films.

Caribbean and Pacific Studies: Archipelagic Thinking Beyond Area Studies

By: Gabriel Bamgbose

The Teleconference Lecture Hall of Alexander Library was the space for the intellectual discussions on “Caribbean and Pacific Studies: Archipelagic Thinking Beyond Area Studies” on November 10 hosted by the Center for Cultural Analysis as part of the Archipelagoes Seminar Series. The seminar was moderated by Prof. Yolanda Martinez-San Miguel who introduced the two presentations by Profs. Elizabeth DeLoughrey (Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles) and Koichi Hagimoto (Department of Spanish, Wellesley College), an opening that set the stage for the discussions on the tension between area studies and archipelagic thinking.

The first presentation titled “‘Moments in Passing:’ Maritime Future of the Anthropocene” by Elizabeth DeLoughrey situates the archipelago as an epistemic force. The crux of the presentation is the problematic relationship between human and nature (non-human). DeLoughrey marks the shift in the oceanic imaginary in the 21st century which pushes from the surface to the submarine, a space of transformation where the idea of a unitary species is erased. Moreover, the shift to “what happens beneath the surface” aims for an understanding of the human that challenges the anthropocene discourses that imagine the human as a singular species. The presentation rethinks the boundary between the anthropocene and the oceanic within the crucible of “sea ontologies” and “the oceanic uncannies.” Just as the ocean is an archive of memory and history “outside and below the official archive,” the human is “a bit planet of ocean.” DeLoughrey argues that the future of the anthropocene lies in what she calls “multi-species relations or alliances” through an engaged discussion of submerged arts/water sculptures (see Jason deCaires Taylor’s works: that rematerialize the oceanic space to showcase multi-species collaboration.

The other presentation for the day by Koichi Hagimoto is titled “Dimension of Archipelagic Culture in the Writing of Jose Rizal and Jose Marti.” The presentation centers on the argument that it would be reductive to see the writing of Rizal and Marti as necessarily nationalistic because the articulation of archipelagic culture in their work offers a model that transcends the nation-state imagination and deconstructs imperial history. Through the lens of archipelagic studies, geopolitical perspective, and island studies, Hagimoto examines the unique relationship of the islands to the world through the “oceanic spatial turn in area studies.” This framework allows for the conversation between the Philippines and Latin American studies with critical focus not only on national and colonial narratives but also historical and cultural narratives that interrogate Western epistemologies of “islands without culture.”  Island studies provides a model beyond area studies and allows for intercultural relations. The comparative reading of Rizal, the Filipino writer, and Marti, the Cuban solider-poet, shows that both writers celebrate tropical culture with references to the cuisine, nature, and language as they symbolize anticolonial gestures. Rizal emphasizes that the Philippines as “ocean of islands” (7000 islands) are not isolated, but their fluidity and cultural relationality undermine the notion of fixed identity. Marti’s representation of the Antillean confederation engages the Caribbean landscape and inhabitants, as well as relations between land and sea, human and nature, war and death. Hagimoto concludes that Rizal and Marti present transoceanic ideas in the late 19th century. Archipelagic culture is more open and diverse than the static, fixed models of the nation-state.

The seminar received generous support from the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as multiple departments, programs, and research centers and institutes.

Librarian Francesca Giannetti shares research and DH recommendations

By: Gabriel Bamgbose

If you enjoyed the article on Digital Humanities at Rutgers, you can learn about DH resources as well as other research suggestions from librarian Francesca Giannetti.

The digital humanities librarian and librarian for the departments of French, Italian, and Comparative Literature, Francesca Giannetti, has an eclectic educational background—a BA in French and Art History from Case Western Reserve University, a degree in Vocal Performance from the École Normale de Musique, Paris, and an MS degree in Information Science from the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin. Among other roles, Giannetti offers trainings and workshops on digital humanities, digital tools and qualitative techniques in research, computational methods, and scholarly communication. Libraries are doing a lot of work in the area of instructional design: working with faculty to create new courses, design assignments, transform existing courses, and incorporate pedagogical theories for effective learning. These tasks put Giannetti in partnership with faculty, students, and researchers. Again, Giannetti works with subject specialists for the development and implementation of strategies for digitization of resources, preservation, and metadata.


Giannetti was motivated to become a librarian because research and academic libraries unite all her interests. Moreover, she is a lover of books which makes working as a librarian fulfilling for her. She was a graduate research assistant in the Fine Arts Library at the University of Texas, Austin, where she worked with the Historical Music Recording Collection. She was a teaching assistant at the School of Information and a technology services intern in Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. She was also the acting Music Librarian in the Fine Arts Library before joining Rutgers.

Giannetti generously shares some library and research resources that are very useful. For library resources, she always tend to point to the libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) when people ask for suggestions of library resources for graduate-level scholarship, since these collections are what make the libraries unique. There are many unstudied works there and consequently many opportunities for publication. Learn about the manuscripts collections here: and the rare book collection here: She informs that not everything in SCUA is cataloged. Thus, she recommends that people should not hesitate to ask if they have a specific interest.

Scholarly communication is an important part of academic life and career. Giannetti recommends a useful tool for this purpose: SOAR –

“SOAR gathers, and makes available globally via the internet, scholarly articles deposited by Rutgers faculty, doctoral students, and postdoctoral scholars.” The interface was developed as a response to the university’s Open Access Policy, in effect as of September 1, 2015. Participation is without cost, and there are a number of advantages to the author, including user statistics, shareable links to your work, and a single repository where all of your scholarly articles are accessible.

Furthermore, there are other RU library services for researchers. These include consultation and training on digitization, digital preservation, copyright and licensing, citation management, among others –

Again, Giannetti shares these resources for starting points in digital humanities: DH research guide –

Comparative Literature research guide also gives a brief overview under “Topics” –

Lisa Spiro’s “Getting Started in Digital Humanities” –

For mapping projects and spatial humanities, Giannetti recommends Neatline (, a mapping plugin to Omeka, a digital publishing platform. Both of these are free and open source. Neatline, Bethany Nowviskie says, is “a geotemporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences from collections of documents and artifacts, and to connect your maps and narratives with timelines that are more-than-usually sensitive to ambiguity and nuance.” Neatline is the one of the best applications for modeling ambiguous spatial data, so common to the humanities, but there are many other mapping applications that are free or have free tiers.

As text analysis is a very vital aspect of studies in literary studies, these two introductory tools are suggested for text analysis: Voyant ( or try new and HathiTrust Research Center SHARC tools ( Both are free to use and offer a number of views into your texts. Voyant allows you to upload your own texts, whereas the HTRC only supports computational analysis across the volumes in the HathiTrust Digital Library which holds about 4 million public domain volumes. A workshop will be offered on the HTRC tools in the spring.

Moreover, Giannetti shares some of her favorite digital libraries, which are non-RU open access libraries. Europeana, a portal to Europe’s greatest cultural heritage collections and research libraries, can be assessed here:

Digital Public Library of America, ibid for the United States, is available here:

PennSound, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, is a digital collection of poetry readings, lectures, happenings, and more: This contains mostly English language poets, but see the new page on Italian poetry:

Francesca is always there for anyone who needs help with library and research resources in one way or the other. She leaves the final note: “The idea I mostly want to convey is that the libraries do a lot of great work to enhance the impact of Rutgers scholars, including faculty and students. Our librarians in general, and I in particular, are here to support your research needs. So don’t hesitate to send an email [], drop by or give me a tweet @jo_frankie.”

Digital Humanities at Rutgers and Beyond

By: Lidia Levkovitch

Digital Humanities is a field at least as broad and as loosely defined as, well, the humanities of non-digital kind. The opening celebration for Rutgers Digital Humanities Lab took place on October 29th at Alexander Library. The Lab itself is a modest space with a conference table and five iMac workstations loaded with fascinating tools going by arcane sounding (at least to me) names such as “R”, “QGIS”, or “Gelphi” (tutorials are available at the DH page at the library.  However, the Digital Humanities initiative is, of course, about much more than space and software. At the October event, the word “community” could be heard a lot, and as scholars from various fields introduced their projects in brief talks, the enthusiasm in the room was palpable.

The talks, by researchers from several Rutgers programs, showcased the sheer vibrancy of the field. Dr. Samantha Boardman (American Studies, Rutgers-Newark) demonstrated pedagogical applications for digitized oral histories of African Americans who came to Newark during the Great Migration in 1910-1970: undergraduate students collaborated with professional artists on creating exquisite glass books based on the stories while graduate students learned about summarizing and indexing oral histories and developed undergraduate curricula. Another digital preservation project presented at the event is still under way; it is devoted to making images of Roman coins from the Ernst Badian collection available online, with each coin photographed at seven different angles. Such cutting edge applications as data mining, geospatial mapping, and network analysis were represented in several talks, one of them by Dr. Andrew Goldstone (English, Rutgers – New Brunswick), from whose Literary Data seminar several enthusiastic students were in attendance.

As is frequently the case with humanities, the conversation often extended beyond technical matters. Thus, Dr. Andrew Urban’s (American Studies, Rutgers – New Brunswick) talk about his work studying exclusion of Asian Americans in the 1950s touched on the importance of responsible curation of online content, such as unattributed historical photographs that often propagate, their provenance forgotten, from one website to another. Problems such as this one is perhaps as important a motivating factor for joining the elusively defined “DH community” as the need to meet people who might help one make sense of programming tools like “QGIS” or  the “R” that, intimidatingly, does not stand for “Rutgers”.

It may be worth noting, in closing, that at the annual convention of ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies), from which I have just returned, the roundtable on Digital Humanities was by far the most popular session among all that I have attended. In a rather unusual development for ASEEES, with its forty or so panels running in parallel, the room did not have enough chairs for scholars in all things Slavic, Eastern European and Eurasian who wanted to become part of the digital action. When the organizers passed around a low-tech notebook collecting addresses for the e-mail list, I signed up. As far as I could see, so did everybody else.

CFP: Urban (De)Coloniality and Literature: Due Dec 1

The Rutgers University Program in Comparative Literature is pleased to announce its 2016 graduate student conference:


Keynote Speaker: JOSÉ DAVID SALDÍVAR, Stanford University.

March 3, 2016

The biennial graduate student conference at the Rutgers University Program in Comparative Literature seeks to relate the theoretical production of decolonial thought with other critical discourses in the global academy. The conference invites participants to think about (de)coloniality beyond the geographical limit of the Americas, the temporal constraint of modernity, and the monolingualism of hegemonic languages and dominant disciplinary frameworks. The conference aims to address the following questions, among others: What knowledges do Ethnic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Area Studies outside of Latin American and Caribbean Studies bring to Decolonial Studies? How does literature, especially fiction, and visual arts become a resource for decoloniality? How does (de)coloniality question the meaning and method of comparativity? In which ways does decolonial thought illuminate global configurations of urban life and culture?

Graduate students interested in presenting their research at Urban (De)Coloniality and Literature are asked to submit an abstract of 300 words or less addressing the conference theme.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality.
  • Dialogues across African, Latin American, Caribbean, Asian, and Indigenous Studies.
  • Global Urbanism, the Coloniality of the City, and De-Westernization.
  • Gentrification, Racial Segregation, and the Prison-Industrial Complex.
  • Feminist and Queer approaches to (De)Coloniality.
  • Genres of the Human in Theory and Literature.
  • Religion and Empire in the Modern/Colonial World.
  • (De)Coloniality and World Literature, Cinema and other Media.
  • Bridging Comparative Literature, Comparative Philosophy, and Comparative Political Theory.

The deadline for paper proposals is 11:59 PM on December 1st, 2015. Please e-mail all proposals to Conference Co-Chair Rafael Vizcaino (, with “Submission: CL Graduate Conference 2016” as the subject of the e-mail. All submissions should include the title of the paper, the abstract, and the name, affiliation, and contact information of the author.


Please visit the conference website:

Grad Student Potluck: Enmanuel Martínez

By: Annabel We

Every year, ABD students in the program present a working draft chapter of their dissertation to the faculty and their graduate colleagues over food, potluck style.

Enmanuel Martínez (En. Mar.) is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate working on archive theory, Caribbean and diasporic studies, decolonial thought, and queer theory. The title for his dissertation is “The Archipelago and the Archive: Reading Local Archival Practices and Mediums in Insular and Continental Caribbean Literatures.” A 2012 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and a 2015-2016 graduate fellow in the “Archipelagoes” seminar of the Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA), En. Mar. also served as the co-organizer of our Program’s spring 2014 biannual graduate student conference.

En. Mar. began his presentation with a genealogical and etymological framework and proposed that we think ‘arche-’ and ‘archons’ of archive and archipelago together. Then En. Mar. mapped the topics of each of his dissertation chapters for us, which include soundbites and diasporic poetry, competing archival sovereignty between the U.S. and the Caribbean, and the specificity of climatic and ecological constructs of the archive in the Caribbean exemplified by the archival ‘mold’ (life) as opposed to ‘dust’ (death).

The chosen chapter of the presentation was “Of Cassette Tape “Letters” and Basement Refrigerators: Housing the Archive of the Caribbean Diaspora,” a project that takes hold of existing debates in archive theory and various thinkers of geographic, transnational, and historical ‘theory,’ including Trouillot, D. Taylor, Hall, Y. Bonilla, Said, and Muñoz. En. Mar.’s reading examined the cassette tape ‘letters’ in Schwarz-Bart’s play Your Handsome Captain (1987) and the refrigerators in Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) to ask what such archives, of the diaspora from the below, might entail for not only archive theory but also for the diasporic constituency.

En. Mar. focused on mobility, domestic archive, creolization of the archival medium, orality, and ephemera/ the ephemeral. Preliminary conclusions that he shared with us suggested: 1) rethinking the archive as mobile, mirroring diasporic migration and 2) theorizing the non-sovereign archives of the Caribbean that are neither within nor outside the nation.

A lively conversation ensued that returned to the question of domesticity and the archive, on top of various other archives recommended to En. Mar. for his consideration.