Frances Thielman’s research focuses on miasma theory and public health in Victorian literature. Her dissertation, directed by Mary Ann O’Farrell, explores how miasma theory is used as a literary device in Victorian novels to reinforce social norms. Miasmatic diseases (in contrast to contagious diseases in the latter half of the 19th century) were thought to be caused by contaminating substances, unhealthy climates, or unhealthy flora and fauna that caused entire places to become sick, both morally and physically. Frances argues that this view of disease informed how Victorian authors wrote about their characters in ways that were fundamentally different from narratives that came later, after germ theory had become more widely accepted; her work explores the way these character portrayals engaged Victorian social values. Her work on this subject has received multiple awards, including the Patrick O. Scott award from the Victorians Institute for her conference paper “Jane Eyre and Public Health: A Closer Look at the Lowood School Epidemic,” and the Forrest Burt Memorial Award for her research on dirt in Cranford. She also presented on Florence Nightingale for the Victorian Intimacies symposium at Texas A&M. Her article on Jane Eyre appeared in the Victorians Institute Journal in 2014 as well as in their online digital annex. She served as a research assistant to David McWhirter compiling notes and identifying textual variants for the forthcoming Cambridge edition of Henry James’s Roderick Hudson. She has represented Texas A&M at the English Institute Conference at UC Irvine and the Dickens Universe Conference at UC Santa Cruz. She also appeared on the Nineteenth Century Studies Association blog 19 Cents as a featured scholar. She has presented her work at the North American Victorian Studies Association conference, the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies conference, and the Victorians Institute conference.
In the last year, Desirae Embree, a third-year Ph.D. student, has dedicated herself to completing her
preliminary exams, engaging in service both in the department and the wider academic community, and establishing her presence in the field of film and media studies through conference presentations. Last spring, she presented at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) on how sound is used to secure sexual knowledge in representations of lesbianism. This presentation, which focused primarily on Todd Haynes’ 2015 film Carol, provides the foundation for a chapter she has been asked to contribute to Screening American Cinema, which is under contract with Routledge. She will be presenting at SCMS again this year, this time as part of a roundtable on queer sex in contemporary film, where she will be speaking on the gender politics underlying art cinema’s recent fascination with the lesbian sex act known as “scissoring.” Both of these projects inform her dissertation research, which examines representations of lesbian sex and sexuality in both mainstream and pornographic film. She intends to defend her prospectus in Spring 2018.
Nigel Lepianka and Deanna Stover
H. G. Wells published two books based on the games he would play with his children, Floor Games (1911) and Little Wars (1913). These texts represent Wells’ attempts to both describe the rules of the various games he would play with his children using miniature figurines, as well as espouse a theory of the value of games for educational and political purposes. Floor Games and Little Wars are important pieces of gaming history, considering not just their authorship, but their contributions for creating rules that would later be adapted for more popular games such as Gary Gygax’s Dungeons & Dragons. With the rise in game studies as a field within the humanities, so comes the need to present documents important to the field in a responsible, scholarly mode. We are currently creating a digital scholarly edition of Little Wars for the purpose of making an accessible, searchable, and critically engaged edition of the text for scholars interested in games as objects of study, their existence as cultural objects, and the unique properties and logic of games. The project will provide not only a digital facsimile of Little Wars, complete with annotations and a critical introduction to the work, but also a streamlined rule list that will document and organize Wells’ rules and guides in order to aid both scholars and gamers interested in the way Wells intended his games to be played.