Working Groups2017-01-23T14:15:32+00:00

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Our Research Collaborative has two main objectives:

The first is to define the role of scholars in the humanities in pursuing a rigorous theoretical, historical, and ethical account of modern war cultures across various disciplines. The second goal is to reflect on cultural policy outcomes that might address the profound social, economic and psychic challenges confronting contemporary citizens entering post-war societies around the world. In particular, the Cultures of War group will explore questions of gender, technology and political economy.

The group aims to create dialogue between academia, veterans, the military, activists, and creative artists to contribute to debates about war culture and public policy in today’s challenging global climate.  The Cultures of War research collaborative was established with the support of NYU’s Center for the Humanities and is based in the department of English at NYU.

Digital Experiments is a graduate-faculty working group in the Department of English at New York University. The group pursues a broad understanding of the intersection between digital tools and humanistic inquiry by engaging in collaborative practices of research, writing, and discussion. It seeks to provide members with resources and instruction in methods, theory, and pedagogical frameworks, as well as with a dynamic community committed to investigation and experimentation.

The Early American Colloquium aims to revisit non-canonical texts of American literature from the colonial period through the 19th century. The colloquium acts as both a reading group and a platform for guest speakers in the field. Interests of the group include texts by female, Native American, and other marginalized writers whose works are less frequently studies. The Colloquium also focuses on  popular fiction and ephemeral texts (such as pamphlets, periodicals, tracts) in order to better understand the daily reading habits of early Americans.

The material conditions necessary for life include food. Humans have been growing theirs for over eleven millennia. Agriculture today accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other human activity, and it accounts for all of us. Culture today rests on cultivation, art included, few exceptions. How does our agricultural production affect our other cultural productions?
Farm to Text sets out to engage and participate in current debates on food and agriculture in society in relation to our positions as literary scholars. We are interested in both the history and the contemporary stakes of the debate. We would like to consider these issues both as practical human concerns and as literary and philosophical problematics, questioning how we, as thinkers, engage with a fundamental material substrate of our given world, the food we grow and eat. We plan to invite speakers to talk about agrarianism and materialism in connection with literature and literary traditions. When appropriate we will organize reading group sessions for graduate students to participate in prior to the public lectures. We will take field trips to working farms. We aim to generate a serious discussion in the department about the intersections of literature, agriculture, and community.

More information coming soon!

This group exists to create a podcast based in literary and theoretical discussion of texts.  We are interested in approaching a range of topics and materials from the disciplinary foundation of English, and considering them in a serious manner that uses our skills as graduate students.  We hope the discussion will be academically rigorous and at the same time accessible and interesting to a wider public.  We will present both the texts themselves and our responses to the texts in an audio format (copyright restrictions permitting), and  include more formal, prepared, remarks, alongside more informal, seminar style discussion.  If you have suggestions for topics or texts, please contact us at


The Literary and Intellectual History Colloquium explores the intersection between the history of literature and the history of ideas. Generally, we ask how literature has shaped, and been shaped by, political and philosophical discourse. Put otherwise, we examine how the new or developing political and philosophical ideas of a given period find nuanced, textured expression in literature; by the same token, we ask how literature has embraced or rejected such ideas and thereby influenced the trajectory of 19th and 20th century European and American intellectual history. Our colloquium is guided by readings literary and philosophical alike, and by questions these readings are sure to elicit!  

The purpose of the MA Futures group is to provide information about potential careers for students graduating with an MA in English. Throughout the year we will bring in guest speakers from a variety of fields (including law, secondary teaching, academic advising, and publishing) to talk about the work they do and the path that one would take to pursue a career in that field.

The Medieval Forum is a graduate student working group in the Department of English at New York University. James C. Staples is the current PhD co-chair and Mary M. Alcaro is the current MA co-chair. Every semester we organize medieval events for the English, NYU, and greater NYC area communities. Our group combines the tradition of hosting guest speakers–previous speakers include Elaine Treharne (Stanford), Richard Emmerson(Manhattan College), Robert Mills (University College London), Stacy Klein(Rutgers University), Carolyn Dinshaw (NYU), and many more–with a reading group in which we practice pronouncing the Old and Middle English languages aloud.

The Modern and Contemporary Colloquium (MACC) is a graduate student and faculty group established in 2005 in the Department of English at NYU. MACC hosts guest lectures, reading groups, seminars and other events to enrich the study of the literature, art, politics, theory and culture of the modern and contemporary period, conceived broadly and transatlantically to include nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century materials. MACC events are normally based in NYU but are open to all members of the academic community and general public.

NewYorkScapes is a research community exploring the application of concepts, tools, and resources in the digital humanities to the study of urban space. Through conversation and collaboration among scholars, archivists, artists, and activists, it seeks to facilitate the development of projects related to interpretation, curation, and communication of the documentary record of New York City, and projects engaging with the aesthetics, art, literature, design and other experiences of the city. What new opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration do digital tools afford scholars working in these areas? How might new digital tools make the art, culture and history of New York visible in new ways, to new publics? How might multidisciplinary inquiry into the city’s evolving cultural geographies foster critical engagement with institutions, media, spaces, and performances that continue to shape urban experience and humanist practices in the 21st century?

The Postcolonial, Race and Diaspora Studies Colloquium aims to bring together faculty and graduate students across the New York City area for intellectual exchange in the field of postcolonial studies, American transnational studies and minority literatures, critical race studies and other related fields. The colloquium strives to provide a forum for interested students from across English, SCA, Comparative Literature, French and other departments to present their work, interact with a range of peers and scholars, and foster conversations.
For 2016-17, we plan to host Debjani Ganguly, and Monique Truong, as well as hold a monthly reading group to discuss contemporary literature, and a “Methods Café” where we discuss the works-in-progress of faculty and graduate students.

Reading Marx operates exactly as one might expect: we read Marx. The group meets regularly throughout the semester to discuss our progress through a selected text. Group discussion operates on the principle that we are all coming to the text for the first time, and seek primarily to understand the work at hand through close reading and conversation, in order to apply the understanding we’ve gained in our own independent research.


The Renaissance & Early Modern Working Group is an interdisciplinary group for graduate students who are working in or who are interested in, generally, the Renaissance and Early Modern periods, or environs 1500-1750. For the spring semester, we are experimenting with different meeting formats, including playing with primary texts (using databases like EEBO), discussing current faculty members’ scholarship, and workshopping graduate papers. We are also having a short speaker series for the spring, including Liza Blake (University of Toronto) and Whitney Trettien (UNC Chapel Hill). Our intention for the 2016-2017 academic year is to sponsor a speaker series as well as regular bi-weekly meetings. Our goal is a group that acts as a useful, informal forum for graduate students to share their own research interests and progress, as well as a group that will ultimately try to host field trips to see theater productions, academic and professional libraries, etc. Our faculty advisors are Chris Wood and Juliet Fleming.

The Eighteenth-Century Workshop provides a forum for scholarly conversation between graduate students, faculty, and guest speakers who are focusing on or simply curious about any aspect of the long eighteenth-century (1660-1832) and Enlightenment studies. We meet once monthly for dinner and discussion, usually organized around selected readings. Our principal mission is to support and enhance eighteenth-century studies within the English Department, making it a robust intellectual community for current and future graduate students.

The Organism for Poetic Research (OPR) is an experimental critical-poetic platform and a vehicle for the performance of research in poetics and poetic research. The OPR takes shape from its many members and contributors operating in diverse locations with current centralization in cities such as Brooklyn, NY; Providence, RI; Vancouver, B.C.; and Portland, Oregon. Propelled by poiesis (making) as its investigative method, the OPR initiates events that open a field of relations between the natural sciences, artistic practices, and research in the humanities. OPR projects take a number of forms. In addition to hosting readings and seminars throughout the year, the OPR appropriates and refashions diverse modes and objects of inquiry as instruments in a series of specific provocations that produce the print and web-based magazine, Pelt: the Organism’s epidermal organ. The OPR also produces “occasional” publications and projects called “OPR Editions” and hosts web residents whose projects actively investigate and re-describe the boundaries of disciplinary formations of knowledge. The OPR “Library” (online, Ed. Anna Moser) features short responses to works and “things” (e.g. books, films, performances, locations, buildings, found items, etc.) that have shaped the critical & artistic methods of OPR members and affiliates, or that provide an occasion for exploring the contours of our diverse methodologies. The OPR “Index” (online) is a pictorial index to things in the world.

Theory Biscuits is a reading group with the purpose of reading foundational texts in literary theory. Our readings emphasize both playful discussion (not a contest of witticisms) and the unlearning of certain assumptions and authoritative interventions. In each meeting, we plan to share what we thought we knew, what we “unlearned” (assumptions that the texts challenge), and a question that doesn’t have to be limited to the text. Previously titled “Theory Bitches,” this reading group planned to self-reflexively question and “unread” the canon of theory as a historically male-centered and male-dominated field. However, in questioning our name, we (the group coordinators) realized that the word “bitches” brought up the complexities of reclaiming and reappropriating language much in the same way that reclaiming and reappropriating theory produces its own complexities. How can we undertake a project of self-reflexivity and persistent questioning if we decide for everyone what the word meant/means/will mean? In the same vein, how can we continue to study literary theory if we merely abide by already prescribed and established understandings of its meanings and goals? By using “biscuits” in our title, we not only endeavor to practice what we preach, but to also emphasize playfulness in this mode of interminable questioning without moving away from our goal of reading theory anew.

The Politics of Empowerment meets every three weeks in order to discuss works that broadly fall under the fields of Women of Color Feminisms and Queer of Color Theory. We invite at least one guest speaker every semester to deliver a lecture at the university or to participate in a seminar with the group. The Politics of Empowerment also aims to foster conversations not only with other NYU groups but also with the larger NYC community–in the past we have attended events organized by The Postcolonial, Race, and Diaspora Studies Colloquium at NYU and by The Brooklyn Museum, for example. Lastly, the group seeks to provide a supportive environment in which students interested in sharing their work and receiving feedback may do so during workshops.