Keynote Speakers


Anna Brickhouse (University of Virginia, English)

Anna Brickhouse is the author of Transamerican Literary Relations in the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere (2005) and The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560 – 1945 (2014). Her first book was the recipient of the Gustave Arlt Award for the Best first Book in the Humanities. The Unsettlement of America, just awarded the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Prize, retells the story of the “discovery” and colonization of the Americas from the perspective of Don Luis de Velasco, a sixteenth-century Native American translator.

David Scott (Columbia University, Anthropology)

David Scott’s work has been concerned with the reconceptualization of the way we think the story of the colonial past for the postcolonial present. This has involved a variety of kinds of inquiry (taking the Caribbean as his principal “field” of engagement), into tradition and generations, dialogue and criticism, self-determination and sovereignty, tragedy and temporality, and transitional justice and liberalism. His most recent book is Stuart Hall’s Voice: Intimations of an Ethics of Receptive Generosity (based on lectures given at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, in November-December 2013), and he is now working on a biography of Stuart Hall. Professor Scott is also working on a study of the question of reparations for the historical injustice of New World slavery. He edits and directs the Small Axe Project, involving in a number of special initiatives around visual, translation, literary, and historiographical issues.



Monique Allewaert (University of Wisconsin-Madison, English)

Monique Allewaert is the author of Ariel’s Ecology: Personhood and Colonialism in the American Tropics, 1760 – 1820 (2013). Her research integrates literary analysis with political and environmental theory to examine how the flows and structures of colonialism shaped the Western hemisphere. She has co-edited a special issue on “Ecocriticism” for American Literature. She is working on a study that focuses on the small and the partial in the Americas to track what she calls an enlightenment from below.


Branka Arsić (Columbia University, English and Comparative Literature)

Branka Arsić is Charles and Lynn Zhang Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She specializes in literatures of the 19th century Americas and their scientific, philosophical and religious contexts. She is the author, most recently, of Bird Relics: Grief and Vitalism in Thoreau (Harvard University Press, 2016), which discusses how Thoreau related mourning practices to biological life by articulating a complex theory of decay, and proposing a new understanding of the pathological. She has also written On Leaving: A Reading in Emerson (Harvard UP, 2010), and a book on Melville entitled Passive Constitutions or 7½ Times Bartleby (Stanford UP, 2007); and co-edited (with Cary Wolfe) a collection of essays on Emerson, entitled The Other Emerson: New Approaches, Divergent Paths (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). She is currently co-editing (with Kim Evans) a collection of essays on Melville, entitled Melville’s Philosophies (Bloomsbury, 2017).


Alexander Bevilacqua (Harvard University, Society of Fellows)

Alexander Bevilacqua received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 2014. His book, The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment, received the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize for best first book from Harvard University Press (forthcoming 2018). In this monograph, he explains how the foundations of the modern Western understanding of Islam were laid between 1650 and 1750. Dr. Bevilacqua will begin as assistant professor of history at Williams College in July 2017. His work has appeared in Past and Present, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, and History of European Ideas.

Tony C. Brown (University of Minnesota, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature)

Professor Brown is the author of The Primitive, the Aesthetic, and the Savage: An Enlightenment Problematic (2012), which addresses Enlightenment attempts to think the aesthetic through the savage, and the savage through the aesthetic, by way of a third term, the primitive. Currently he is writing a book entitled “Statelessness: On Almost not Existing,” where he claims statelessness as a serious and far-reaching concern of political philosophy, to ask what being stateless means above all in the context of an Enlightenment political philosophy for which the human being’s being human is secured by its achieving a state-based existence. Brown suggests that in such a context being stateless (roughly, being a savage or an animal) involved being lesser in being, possessed of a being so weak as to make one’s existence far from certain–even, at moments, unthinkable.

Vincent Carretta (University of Maryland, English)

Vin Carretta, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland, specializes in eighteenth-century transatlantic historical and literary studies. He has published two books on verbal and visual Anglophone political satire between 1660 and 1820, as well as authoritative editions of the works of Olaudah Equiano, Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, and other eighteenth-century transatlantic authors of African descent. His most recent books are Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man (2006); The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque The First African Anglican Missionary (2010), co-edited with Ty M. Reese; Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (2011); and an edition of Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African (2015). Vin’s current projects include a new edition of the writings of Phillis Wheatley.

Bruno Carvalho (Princeton University, Spanish and Portuguese)

Bruno Carvalho’s work examines intersections between literature, culture, and the built environment in Latin American and Iberian contexts, with an emphasis on Brazil. He is the author of Porous City: A Cultural History of Rio de Janeiro (2013), which won the Brazilian Studies Association Roberto Reis Book Award. He is currently writing a book entitled, Partial Enlightenments: Race, Cities, and Nature in the Luso-Brazilian Eighteenth Century.

Jill H. Casid (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Art History)

Jill H. Casid founded and served as the first director of the Center for Visual Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization (2006), which received the College Art Association’s Millard Meiss award and Scenes of Projection: Recasting the Enlightenment Subject (2015) and co-editor of Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn (2014). She is currently completing the two-volume project Form at the Edges of Life.


Linda Colley (Princeton University, History)

Linda Colley is Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton. A Fellow of the British Academy, she is the author of six books, including Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837, Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600-1850, and The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History, and Acts of Union, Acts of Disunion, which was based on fifteen lectures she delivered on BBC Radio 4. She writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books, and is currently at work on a book exploring the interplay between war and constitution writings in different continents since 1750.

Raúl Coronado (University of California-Berkeley, Ethnic Studies)

In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain and deposed the king. Overnight, Hispanics were forced to confront modernity and look beyond monarchy and religion for new sources of authority. Raúl Coronado’s first book, A World Not to Come: A History of Latino Writing and Print Culture (2013) focuses on how Spanish Americans in Texas used writing as a means to establish new sources of authority, and how a Latino literary and intellectual life was born in the New World. It received seven prizes, including Best First Book from the MLA and Most Outstanding Book in American Studies from the American Studies Association.



Fara Dabhoiwala (Princeton University, History)

Fara Dabhoiwala works on the English-speaking world since the middle ages. He is the author of The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution (2012), and is now researching the history of language and communication. His immediate projects include a history of free speech, a global history of English, and a brief history of the signature.
Humberto Garcia (University of California-Merced, English)

Humberto Garcia is an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Merced who studies eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature in a global context, with an emphasis on Anglo-Islamic relations in this period.  He is the author of Islam and the English Enlightenment, 1670-1840 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), which shows how British eighteenth-century literature was influenced by international events in the Muslim world, using them to contest and redefine British concepts of liberty. Funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2015-16, he is now working on a second book titled England Re-Oriented: How Asian Travelers from India Imagined the West, 1750-1820, which considers how Indian and Asian writers not only resisted, interrogated, and adapted the racial stereotypes Britons imposed on them, but also exploited these stereotypes to articulate their own vision of a Europe commensurable with Asia.


Daragh Grant (Harvard University, Committee on Degrees in Social Studies)

Daragh Grant received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 2012. Between 2012 and 2015, he was a Harper-Schmidt Fellow and Collegiate Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His intellectual interests include the history of colonialism and empire, the history of slavery, and the development of understandings of sovereignty and subjecthood from the sixteenth century to the present. He is currently preparing his book manuscript for publication, which is tentatively titled Experiments in Order: Sovereignty, Jurisdiction, and State Formation in Early America, 1600-1740. This manuscript brings together his interests in colonialism and state formation to explain how English settlers in New England and South Carolina asserted and defended their claims to jurisdiction over lands and peoples in the Americas. It also explores the strategies by which indigenous polities, slaves, and some settler communities sought to resist or exploit colonial governments and the imperial center to their own ends. Daragh has recently published essays on the development of racial slavery in colonial South Carolina and on the jurisdictional politics of early New England in Comparative Studies in Society and History and the William and Mary Quarterly, respectively.

William Pettigrew (University of Kent, UK, History)

William Pettigrew was educated at Oxford and Yale, and has written on the history of the transatlantic slave trade and on the history of trading companies. His 2013 monograph history of the Royal African Company, Freedom’s Debt won the Jamestown Prize from the Omohumdro Institute. He leads a major UK research project about trading corporations as constitutional bridges between cultures. He is Director of the Centre for the Political Economies of International Commerce which he founded at Kent in 2013.

Steven Pincus (Yale University, History)

Steven Pincus is the author of Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668 (1996), England’s Glorious Revolution 1688-891688:The First Modern Revolution (2009), and The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders’ Case for Activist Government (2016) as well as the editor of two collections of essays. His work focuses on the economic, cultural, political, and intellectual history of early modernity, especially the histories of Britain, the British Empire, and the Atlantic world. Professor Pincus’s current projects include a book on the origins of the British Empire (c. 1650-1784), which offers a new interpretation of the American Revolution and the origins of British India, and a book on the American Revolution in global context.

Saskia Sassen (Columbia University, Sociology)

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Member, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Her new book is Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Harvard University Press, 2014) now out in 15 languages. Recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press, 2008), A Sociology of Globalization (W.W. Norton, 2007), and the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage, 2012). Among older books are The Global City (Princeton University Press, 1991/2001), and Guests and Aliens (New Press, 1999). Her books are translated into over 20 languages. She is the recipient of diverse awards and mentions, including multiple doctor honoris causa, named lectures, and being selected as one of the top global thinkers on diverse lists. Most recently she was awarded the Principe de Asturias 2013 Prize in the Social Sciences and made a member of the Royal Academy of the Sciences of Netherland.

Vivasvan Soni (Northwestern University, English)

Vivasvan Soni’s first book, Mourning Happiness: Narrative and the Politics of Modernity (Cornell University Press, 2010), was the recipient of the Modern Language Association’s Prize for a First Book. His current projects are a book about “crises of judgment” in the eighteenth-century, moral problems whose legacies are still with us, and another book
titled The Utopian Imagination: Fiction and the Possibilities of Action, about the fate of utopian writing and thinking in modernity.

Philip Stern (Duke University, History)

Philip Stern’s first book was The Company-State: Corporate Sovereignty and The Early Modern Origins of the British Empire in India, 2011 and he has also co-edited, with Carl Wennerlind, Mercantilism Reimagined: Political Economy in Early Modern Britain and Its Empire, (2014) He’s the author of numerous articles on corporate identity and empire in eighteenth-century Asia, and the recipient of fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and the NEH.

Robert Travers (Cornell University, History)

Robert Travers’s first book, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth Century India, examined the political thought of the first generation of British empire-builders in India, showing how British officials tried to found their empire on an ‘ancient constitution’ derived from history of the Mughal empire. His new book project, titled ‘An Empire of Complaints. Indian Petitioning and the Making of the British Empire in India’, uses English and Persian language sources to explore how everyday encounters between Indian petitioners and British officials shaped the practice of modern colonial rule. In other work in progress, Robert is exploring forms of Eurasian cosmopolitanism that grew out of encounters in South Asia between early modern European and Indo-Persian forms of imperial culture.

Chi-ming Yang (University of Pennsylvania, English)

Chi-ming Yang specializes in the literary and visual culture of race and empire from the early modern period to the present. Her book, Performing China: Virtue, Commerce, and Orientalism in Eighteenth-century England, 1660-1760 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), is a study of the European fascination with Asia. Her new work concerns race, chinoiserie,transatlantic slavery, and the cultural impact of global flows of silver between Latin America and East Asia.


<< Home