Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Faculty

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Brian Baaki

Brian Baaki earned the Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center.  He is revising his dissertation, “A Dark Record: Criminal Discourse and the African American Literary Project, 1721-1864,” into a book, which is under contract to the University Press of Mississippi. His study charts the emergence and traces the evolution of a central figure in American culture: the myth of the black criminal. Dr. Baaki’s articles have been published in New England Quarterly and Clues: A Journal of Detection.

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Todd Carmody

Todd Carmody is a scholar of late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century American and African American literature and culture with interests in the history of science and medicine, disability studies, transnational American studies, the sociology of literature, and historicist methods. In addition to being a postdoctoral fellow at the CCA, he is also a 2017-2018 Countway Library Fellow in the History of Medicine at Harvard University and the 2018 Norton Strange Townshend Fellow in American History at the University of Michigan. He has previously held fellowships in the English Department at UC Berkeley, Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies. He is presently completing a book entitled Make Work: Uplift and Rehabilitation in Postbellum 

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Jeanette Samyn

Jeanette Samyn received her Ph.D. in English Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington, and her B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her teaching and research interests span British literature, theory, and the environmental and medical humanities, with a focus on environmental theory and nineteenth-century (especially Victorian) literature and science. Her book project, In Praise of the Parasite: Asymmetrical Relations in the British Empire, explains how complex, asymmetrical intimacies were embedded into nineteenth-century notions of "community" and "environment" through the figure of the parasite. In popular science and the realist novel in particular, the parasite was used as a formal mechanism through which writers could imagine relations between organisms as complex, interdependent, and, often, painful. Part of this project, the essay “Cruel Consciousness: Louis Figuier, John Ruskin, and the Value of Insects,” was published in Nineteenth-Century Literature in 2016.

She is also interested in contemporary film, theory, and politics, and has articles published or forthcoming on these subjects for publications such as n+1The New InquiryDossier, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The American Reader.


Laura Vrana

Laura Vrana earned the Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University.  Her dissertation, ‘Writing Transgressions: Publication, Contexts, and the Politics of Recognition in Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry,” draws together poetry studies, African American literary criticism, and textual scholarship to provide an authoritative history of black women’s poetry since the Black Arts Movement.  Dr. Vrana’s articles have been published in the Journal of Ethnic American Literature and Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora.