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Lisa Hermsen

Professor / Caroline Werner Gannett Endowed Chair
2420 Wallace Center
(585) 475-4553
PhD, Rhetoric and Professional Communication Iowa State University of Science & Technology, Ames IA, 2002
MA, English/Rhetoric & Composition Iowa State University of Science & Technology, Ames IA, 1997
MA, English/Literature University of Missouri-Columbia

I am the current Carolyn Werner Gannett Chair in the Humanities and the past Chair of the English Department at RIT. I specialize in the rhetoric of science, technology, and medicine. My book, Manic Minds: Mania's Mad History and Its Neuro Future (Rutgers UP, 2011), argues that mania has never been stabilized as a modern medicalized disorder. The manifestation of "mania" in American psychiatry has emerged fluid from pre-professional to professional psychiatry and now persists frenzied into the neuro-future. I also served as faculty co-director on a 3D Virtual Preservation of the Buffalo State Asylum–the Richardson Olmsted Complex–one of the largest and most important sites in New York state at the turn of the twentieth century and a national historic landmark today.

I am now serving as PI on a NEH Humanities Connections Grant to study “community” from a host of disciplinary perspectives: historical, geographical, literary, environmental and socioeconomic. Undergraduate students will gain a better understanding of how distinct communities have formed, changed and often retained a distinct sense of place amid shifting economic, political and technological forces. This course sequence will emphasize the critical importance of experiential learning. In this first delivery of the course sequence, we will build on the University’s long-standing tradition of community service, as well as faculty engagement with area communities. Students will ultimately contribute to an on-going digital archive that documents community, memory and place.

My latest research is with an extensive 19th century provincial English Printer’s Archive. The unique archive includes five volumes from William Townsend & Son, Printer, Bookbinder, and Account Book Manufacturer of Sheffield (U.K.). The volumes include a trade ledger, a price and estimate book, a works manual and business guide, an address book, and a library catalogue. William Townsend & Son was an important printer during the nineteenth century, of considerable reputation for letterpress printing of stationary and accounting books for commercial and industrial offices.