Whitney Sperrazza Headshot

Whitney Sperrazza

Assistant Professor

Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

585-475-7840
Office Hours
calendly.com/wsperrazza
Office Location

Whitney Sperrazza

Assistant Professor

Department of English
College of Liberal Arts

Bio

My work sits at the intersections of early modern literary studies, histories of science, intersectional feminist theory, and digital humanities. 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 several major projects. First, my in-progress book traces an alternative history of women’s engagement with science. Instead of looking for singular examples of female scientists throughout history, I turn to the work of female poets who were engaging with new scientific questions and methods in 16th- and 17th-century England. The book centers on the following questions: how does women's poetry 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 science can manifest poetically?

Second, I am building a digital project prototype exploring the relationships among book history, textile work, and computer programming. /The Craft of Computation/ will be a robust digital exhibit featuring the first book made by an automated machine, a silk woven edition of /Les Laboureurs/ (1883) by Alphonse de Lamartine, held at the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT. With this project, I aim to expand the familiar story of computing history and bolster efforts to bridge humanities and STEM fields.

Finally, together with a regional team of faculty, staff, students, community educators, and activists, I am designing and building a digital humanities project titled /Resistance Mapping/. This interactive project supports ongoing anti-racist curriculum development for Rochester schools, and will serve as a portal into place-based racism and resistance in Monroe County, NY.

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 relationship between past and present, physical and digital. 

585-475-7840

Personal Links
Areas of Expertise

Select Scholarship

Published Review
Sperrazza, Whitney. "Early Modern Manuscripts Online." Rev. of Early Modern Manuscripts Online, ed. Isabella Magni. Early Modern Digital Review 2020: n.p. Web.
Journal Paper
Sperrazza, Whitney. "Knowing Mary Wroth's Pamphilia." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 19. 3 (2019): 1-35. Print.

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 variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, or issues associated with the representation of women and gender in literature and media, and/or associated with the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions provoked by women as producers and consumers of media and texts. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic being studied has changed.
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.
WGST-414
3 Credits
This variable topic course examines one or more themes, figures, movements, or issues associated with the representation of women and gender in literature and media, and/or associated with the historical, cultural, and theoretical questions provoked by women as producers and consumers of media and texts. The topic for the course is chosen by the instructor, announced in the course subtitle, and developed in the syllabus. The course can be taken multiple times provided that the topic being studied has changed.
ENGL-308
3 Credits
In this course students will read, study, and discuss some of Shakespeare's dramatic work in an attempt to determine the nature of his significance. What political and institutional factors account for the reverence accorded to Shakespeare? In addition to reading a range of Shakespeare’s plays, the course will develop deeper understandings of contemporary literary theory and practices that allow various interpretations of these plays. The approach will be comparative and reflect on the influence and effect of Shakespeare’s work on contemporary culture. Attention will be paid to issues of gender, historicity, iconicity and textual analysis among others