Keynote Speakers

Melissa E. Sanchez

Keynote Title: “Versions of Sappho: Race, Female Masculinity, and the Ethics of Mutability”

Melissa E. Sanchez is Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Core Faculty in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of three books: Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature (Oxford University Press, 2011); Shakespeare and Queer Theory(Bloomsbury Arden, 2019); and Queer Faith: Reading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition (New York University Press, 2019). She has also co-edited three volumes of essays: Spenser and “the Human,” a special volume of Spenser Studies (2015); Rethinking Feminism in Early Modern Studies: Gender, Race, Sexuality (2016); and Desiring History and Historicizing Desire, a special issue of the Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies (2016). 

Rajani Sudan

Keynote Title: “Mines, Minerals, Mimesis, and Memory”

Rajani Sudan is a specialist in early modern British literature. Trained as a romanticist, her initial interest in the origins of Romantic literature has drawn her back in time, from the 19th to the 18th century and earlier, and turned her attention outward from Britain to the global encounters of the first British Empire. Her first book, Fair Exotics: Xenophobic Subjects in English Literature (UPenn, 2002) traces the simultaneous fascination with and fear of foreign people, a twin sensibility that underpinned Romantic subjectivity. Her second book, The Alchemy of Empire: Abject Materials and the Technologies of Colonialism (Fordham UP, 2016), examines the non-European origins of that quintessential European era, the Enlightenment. English Enlightenment “scientists” explained “exotic” Indian elixirs and their methods of preparation, brought to England by the British East India Company and introduced at meetings of the Royal Society, in terms of alchemy, that superstitious “science” that present-day scholars tell us was displaced by the rational science of the 18th century.  She teaches courses on cultural representations of imperial identity in 18th-century Britain, but is also interested in science studies, cyberculture and popular Hollywood film. Currently, she is working on her third book, The Dirt in the Machine: A Place History of the Internet, a project that uncovers the geographical, economic, environmental and political space displaced by computer technology. She co-edits Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology (Johns Hopkins UP).