Emily B. Stanback
Emily B. Stanback recently received her Ph.D. in English from the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Her dissertation, “Romantic Embodiments: The Wordsworth-Coleridge Circle and the Aesthetics of Disability,” examines texts in a variety of different genres—epic and lyric poetry, essays, medical and scientific tracts, periodicals, letters, notebooks—to demonstrate the ways that various modes of non-normative embodiment were key to aesthetic experience, aesthetic production, and aesthetic experimentation in literature of the Romantic era.
While at the Beckman Center, Emily will begin work on a new project: “Romantic Experimentation: Radical Science and the Politics of Disability.” The Romantic era was a time in which scientific methods, theories, and philosophies were often understood as posing a very real threat to national stability, and scientists could suffer dire consequences for a perceived convergence of political radicalism and scientific inquiry. “Romantic Experimentation” will focus especially on the scientific methods and philosophies associated with political radicalism—e.g., inductive reasoning, self-experimentation. A primary goal will be to demonstrate that radical Romantic science often produced or centered non-normative states of body and mind that were usually associated with disability, which was at the time a contested category, both culturally and scientifically. This helps to account for why radical science came under such scrutiny from conservative critics, who often invoked the discourses of disability in discrediting their radical counterparts.
Stanback is also in the process of developing a digital humanities project called The Gravestone Project with colleagues in the United States and the United Kingdom. The project will map cemeteries, gravestones, and epitaphs from the 18th and 19th centuries. Stanback’s involvement in the project grows out of her interest in how concepts of embodiment and embodied subjectivity are evinced in gravestone iconography and epitaphs, particularly those related to disability, disease and illness, and medical care.