Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Faculty



Daniel Clinton

I am a Mellon Post-Doctoral Associate specializing in nineteenth-century American fiction and poetry. My research interests include visual culture, aesthetics, formalism, photography, Herman Melville, and the transatlantic culture of Romanticism. I am currently at work on a book based on my dissertation, titled Mechanical Reproduction in the Age of Immediacy. This project examines the influence of technical media on the aesthetic categories that antebellum American authors inherited from British Romanticism. I argue that authors such as Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne expressed such fascination with the optical devices of copyists and showmen because these machines gave them a model for their changing conceptions of literary form. I received my Ph.D. in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013.


Rachel Feder

I teach courses on British literature in the Department of English, where I am a Mellon Postdoctoral Associate.  My course designs use recontextualization to encourage students to pull back the cloak of canonicity and explore the experimental nature of the texts at hand.  To this end, I often conclude my courses with a unit on contemporary literature, and I often include hybrid creative/critical assignments.  My upcoming course, Later Romantic Literature: Monsters & Rock Stars, will include a unit in which students read works by Coleridge, Byron, Polidori, and Mary Shelley in the context of sociopolitical and scientific history, and then write monster narratives responding to present-day debates.  The course will also include a unit in which students bring their understanding of Romantic literary celebrity to bear on an examination of contemporary celebrity culture.

I have enjoyed working with the wonderful students at Rutgers!


Sebastian LeCourt

My research explores the relationship between literature, religion, and secularization in nineteenth-century Britain.  In my current book manuscript Cultivating Belief: Victorian Anthropology and the Secular Imagination, I argue that Victorian liberals like George Eliot, Walter Pater, and Matthew Arnold used anthropology to rethink the relationship between religion and individualism in liberal thought.  By rejecting the traditional Lockean link between religion and individuality for a model of religion as racial or cultural identity, I argue, these writers sought to refashion individualism as a matter of cultivated eclecticism – revealing how Victorian aesthetic theory lay the groundwork for twentieth-century liberalisms in which involuntary inheritance is taken to enhance rather than stifle individuality.  Meanwhile, in a second book-length project, The Genres of Comparative Religion, 1800-1900, I am exploring how Victorian writers used literary forms like the Bildungsroman and the long poem to establish axes of comparison for the global study of religion. The project will explore how genres both establish categories of likeness and find themselves reshaped by the uneven contours of global literary exchange.


Shaundra Myers

I am a postdoctoral fellow who specializes in twentieth-century African American literature and critical race studies. My teaching and research interests include autobiography, global mobility, and law and literature, with an emphasis on issues of race, gender, and citizenship. At Rutgers, I am developing my book manuscript, “Worlds beyond Brown: Race, Embodiment, and the Remapping of Integration.” While racial integration is deemed the hallmark of U.S. social progress in the twentieth century, my project examines how global itinerants in African American literature interrogate the boundaries and meanings of “integration” in order to re-elaborate notions of freedom. I hold a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland and have been the recipient of a number of awards including the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.


Theresa O’Byrne

Is a American Council of Learned Societies Post-Doctoral Fellow.  She specializes in medieval English and Irish literary culture and the history of the book.  Dr. O’Byrne graduated in 2012 from the University of Notre Dame where she was the recipient of the prestigious Shaheen Award for her dissertation, “Dublin’s Hoccleve: James Yonge, Scribe, Author, and Bureaucrat, and the Literary World of Late Medieval Dublin,” which focuses on the lives and works of professional writers in late medieval English-controlled Dublin.  Her other scholarly interests include pilgrimage literature, literature and the law, visionary literature, and the movement and transformation of literature across national, linguistic, and ethnic boundaries, especially between England and the Celtic world.  Her most recent project involves transcribing, editing, and translating Latin women’s lives from the radical fifteenth-century Devotio Moderna religious movement, and exploring the regulation of homosocial relationships within women’s houses.  She is currently working on a monograph exploring political and social commentary in the fifteenth-century literary texts of England’s Anglo-Irish colony.


Jeff Rufo

As a Visiting Faculty Fellow in residence at the Center for Cultural Analysis, I'm completing a book entitled "Machiavellian Drama in the Age of Shakespeare." The argument is that drama's treatment of political liberty was directly informed by Florentine civic humanist literature, which had achieved its apotheosis in the republican works of Machiavelli. While at Rutgers, I'm teaching undergraduate courses on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama and Renaissance humanism for the English Department. My other interests include seventeenth-century French literature and the neoclassical tradition in Northern Europe. Lately I've been thinking about histories of the obscene, and I hope to begin formulating my next research project on this issue during my time here.


Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in African-American and African Diaspora Literature at Rutgers University. I hold a PhD in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Working at the intersections of African diaspora feminism, queer theory, and poetics, my book project, “The Poetics of Difference in Afrodiasporic Women’s Literature,” examines the role of narrative, poetic, and dramatic voice to contest dominant models of identity in women’s writing of the African diaspora. My scholarly and critical writing has appeared or is forthcoming in GLQ: Lesbian and Gay Studies Quarterly; Palimpsest: Journal of Women, Gender and the Black International; The Scholar and Feminist, When White Writes Black: Critical Perspectives on White-Authored Narratives of Black Life; The Root;; The Feminist Wire and others. My work has received honors and support from the Mellon Foundation, the Social Sciences Research Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Center for Fiction, and, most recently, the Gaius Charles Bolin Fellowship at Williams College, among others. In 2014, I will begin as Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at UMass, Amherst. My short story collection, Blue Talk and Love, is forthcoming. 


Autumn Womack

Autumn Womack comes to Rutgers University as a Postdoctoral Fellow in African American Literature from The University of Pittsburgh where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English. Her research and teaching interests include visual culture and literature, especially late 19th and early 20th century African American literary cultures. She received her PhD in 2013 from Columbia University, specializing in 19th-century African American Literature. Her book manuscript, Re-Form Vision: Race, Visuality, and Literature in the Progressive Era, explores the intersection of emergent visual technologies and African American writing in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Autumn's essays and book reviews have appeared, or are forthcoming, in e-misferica, Black Camera: An International Film Journal, Smallaxe Salon, and Cambridge's multi-volume series African American Literature in Transitions.

 Bynum Photo

Tara Bynum

Tara Bynum is a 2015-2016 Postdoctoral Fellow in African American literature whose work specializes in 18th century African American literature, subjectivity, and interiority. Her book project, Reading Pleasures, looks into the archive to seek after the many ways that people experience blackness as a racial identity, as a cultural category, or as a mark upon the skin. At a time when Twitter responds to the deaths of unarmed black men and women with #blacklivesmatter, this work questions what makes life matter in the writings of Phillis Wheatley, John Marrant, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, and David Walker. What matters—namely, friendship, faith, love or activism—oftentimes feels good, and good feeling happens in those inside spaces where these writers can and do feel freely. Reading Pleasures contends, in effect, that even in the midst of the most painful kind of suffering, black lives—black pleasures—matter. Her research and writing have received generous financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Antiquarian Society, University of Pennsylvania's McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and Towson University. Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Criticism, Legacy, Common-Place, American Periodicals and The Offing.