Erik Fredner

Postdoctoral Fellow

I study US literature and culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries using two methodologies. The first seeks to understand literary form and content through close reading and historical contextualization. The second methodology can’t quite agree on what to call itself: digital humanities, cultural analytics, and computational literary studies are all used by different folks at different times. Whatever you call it, I use datasets to study US literary history at larger scales than we ever could with analog research practices. By doing this, we test our presuppositions about texts that we have entirely forgotten, and discover patterns in literary history we never knew existed.

My Engagements course explores the relationship between aesthetic form and content through a mode that makes both conspicuous: satire. Satire can be grotesque, offensive, and delightful. But good satire is not only censorious. It dares to imagine a better world, albeit by showing the incoherence of the one we live in.