I am an Assistant Professor of English and Digital Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Focused on sixteenth-and seventeenth-century English literature, my work is preoccupied with forms of inscription, both the acts of inscribing (writing, engraving, encoding) and the records of those embodied acts. Inscription carries a material heft that orients my approach to pre-modern texts. Working across manuscript and print, I am always interested in how texts as inscriptive media forms hail us as readers, particularly when texts themselves seem to invite embodied modes of engagement.
If we understand texts (or, perhaps, the surfaces of texts) as literal sites of contact through which we reach out to touch past subjects, our methods of close reading must take on new dimensionality and care. How do texts invite us to touch them and how do texts hold records of tactile contact? What forms of intimacy become possible for (or are forced onto) readers as textual materials accumulate meaning across times and spaces? What new conditions for reading and knowledge making occur when we foreground touch as our primary mode of investigation? How do digital media destabilize our assumptions about inscriptive forms (inscription as embodied, material, and permanent)? How might we recuperate and reorient embodied modes of interaction with digital materials?
I approach such questions at the intersection of literary studies, intersectional feminist theory, and media archaeology, always with an eye to how inscriptive media forms structure our relationship to the past. My interdisciplinary approach to early modern literary studies has been honed through my training in highly collaborative humanities environments, first in my graduate work at The University of Chicago (MA) and Indiana University Bloomington (PhD), and then during my time as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas.
I am currently on research leave from June 2022 to May 2023 with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete my current book project, Anatomical Forms: The Science of the Body in Early Modern Women’s Poetry. You can find my updated CV here. Please feel free to write to me at wssgla [at] rit [dot] edu or on Twitter [at] wsperrazza.