Whitney Sperrazza Headshot

Whitney Sperrazza

Assistant Professor
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

585-475-7840
Office Hours
Wednesdays 2:30-4:30pm (Fall 2019)
Office Location

Whitney Sperrazza

Assistant Professor
Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

Bio

My work focuses on the intersections of early modern literature and science, gender histories and early women’s writing, and digital and experimental approaches to literature. I take a highly interdisciplinary approach in both my research and teaching, always interested in the questions that form in disciplinary contact zones.

I am currently at work on two major projects. First, a data curation and critical making project that explores how readers feel violent poetic language. I study representations of women's bodies in early modern sonnets and transform blazon language into three-dimensional objects. The objects make tangible the violence implicit and explicit in these poetic representations and raise important questions about the physical effects of language.

Second, my current book project tells an alternative history of women’s engagement with science. Instead of looking for exceptional examples of female scientists throughout history, I track the work of female poets who were engaging with the inquiries and methods of anatomical science in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. With this project, I explore the following central questions: how do early women's engagements with science prompt us to reconsider what counts as "scientific work"? what can women's writing teach us about the relationship between poetic and scientific practices? what are the different ways in which anatomy can manifest poetically?

I teach in both the English Department and the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences Program. My goal as an instructor is to help students understand and think beyond disciplinary boundaries, always with an eye to the relationships between past and present, physical and digital. 

585-475-7840

Personal Links

Currently Teaching

ENGL-215
3 Credits
We encounter digital texts and codes every time we use a smart phone, turn on an app, read an e-book, or interact online. This course examines the innovative combinations of text and code that underpin emerging textual practices such as electronic literatures, digital games, mobile communication, geospatial mapping, interactive and locative media, augmented reality, and interactive museum design. Drawing on key concepts of text and code in related fields, students will analyze shifting expressive textual practices and develop the literacies necessary to read and understand them. Practicing and reflecting on such new media literacies, the course explores their social, cultural, creative, technological, and legal significance. To encourage multiple perspectives on these pivotal concepts of text and code and their import, the course includes guest lectures by scholars and practitioners in these fields.
ENGL-414
3 Credits
This course will explore a key theme or critical question in women's and gender studies as an introduction and line of inquiry into how and why women's and gender studies matter in the contemporary world and in our individual lives. Drawing from and reflecting on approaches to women's and gender studies from a variety of disciplines and cultures, we will use these theoretical lenses to read social, cultural, and artistic texts and cultural practices in a new light. How has women's and gender studies and the creative, activist and academic practices theorized in this multidisciplinary, global space, challenged gendered and racialized power structures in the past, in the present, and how might it transform its methods to confront current challenges?
DHSS-101
3 Credits
The course provides a basic introduction to the application of computation in the research and practice of the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The class offers students entry to work with archival theory and practice; textuality and electronic scholarly communication; data mining, analysis, and visualization; the spatial and temporal “turns;” game studies and digital arts. The course offers hands on experimentation with software platforms available to create scholarly and artistic production and theoretical approaches to digital presentation. Students will complete assignments requiring conceptual, aesthetic, and practical approaches to digital engagement with cultural materials. While no programming knowledge is required, students will design and create an online project using tools and platforms that are considered standard practice in the field, and reflect critically on the utility of digital techniques in their dialogue with the humanities.
DHSS-102
3 Credits
The central focus of this course will be the excavation of textual, visual, and sonic materials, obsolete or emerging. The archaeological metaphor evokes both the desire to recover material traces of the past and the imperative to situate those traces in their social, cultural, and political contexts. How does the digital age imagine backwards to the Industrial Age and vice versa? Is it true that virtually everything that is being invented now for a digital age had its origins in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century industrial age? (inventions of telegraphy and telephony, electricity, photography, cinema, the automobile, the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification systems, muckraking and sensationalist journalism, celebrity culture, the skyscraper, the office, the typewriter, the Brownie camera). We will take a research approach that explores moments in which both familiar and unfamiliar devices have yet to emerge as significant or disappear as curiosities.

Select Scholarship

Journal Paper
Sperrazza, Whitney. "Knowing Mary Wroth's Pamphilia." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 19. 3 (2019): 1-35. Print.