Future research

Seer Bonnet by Angela Ellsworth (c. 2008)

Seer Bonnet by Angela Ellsworth (c. 2008), composed of over 20,000 steel corsage pins

I am at work on a second monograph on modern fiction and mental health. Focused on psychopathology in the twentieth century, the project explores how narrative form unsettles clinical definitions of illness.

The first article from this study, published in Arizona Quarterly, focuses on a condition that appeared in 1910: initially a psychotic symptom of schizophrenia, “ambivalence” soon became a mainstream neurosis associated with young women and homosexuals. Yet by the late 1920s, ambivalence also described an aesthetic value associated with masculine intelligence. I analyze the gendered contradictions of this psychosocial history in Edith Wharton’s Twilight Sleep (1927) and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night (1934).

Another occasional piece, on the prehistory of the contemporary quantified self movement, recently appeared in Modernism/modernity’s online feature In These Times. The next full-length piece from this project, forthcoming in Modernism/modernity, analyzes race and addiction in Harlem Renaissance-era literature and science, with a focus on Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929) and early genetic theory. Also for Modernism/modernity, and with Heather A. Love, I am currently co-editing a related Print+ essay cluster on “Modernism & Diagnosis.”

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