Robert W. Allington Fellow
- E-mail: farmerm-at-unc-dot-edu
Meredith Farmer is a visiting instructor at Wake Forest University, who is finishing her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her current research focuses primarily on Herman Melville's surprisingly unexamined relationship to science—or, more aptly, the way a set of scientific narratives (biology, chemistry, meteorology, electromagnetism) enabled Melville to think differently about the idea of the “person.” Her project, Melville’s Ontology, is under advance contract with Northwestern University Press. And she is also at work on a related short biography, which details Melville’s remarkable education in what we now describe as STEM fields.
This research has led Meredith to a number of different libraries and archives: most recently the Bakken Museum of Electricity and the Smithsonian. But her favorite archival find thus far was at the Berkshire Athenaeum—essentially a public library—where a secret back room houses a number of Melville’s own annotated books, the desk where he wrote Moby-Dick, and a stack of family photo albums.
Meredith’s work on literature and science has also led to projects on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Natural History of Intellect,” Stephen Crane’s relationship to work on cognitive science, and the origins of detective fiction. She is currently developing a course on hurricanes. And she is avidly following the development of hybrid fields like “environmental humanities” and “medical humanities.” So after a fellowship at the American Philosophical Society last summer, Meredith is very excited to be back in Philly—and immersed in its history of science community.
When not actively working on Melville and science, she is perpetually in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee. She’s also dreaming about entirely too many “second” projects: the rise and fall of work on meteorology in the 19th century; the literary, scientific, and technological community in Albany in the 1820s; and the development of academic disciplines before the Civil War.
You can learn more about Meredith’s research and teaching at Academia.edu—or on twitter where she’s “publishing” Moby-Dick 140 characters at a time.
April 21, 2015: Brown Bag Lecture