James E. Dobson

Lecturer, Department of English and Creative Writing

I am a literary and cultural critic who specializes in intellectual history and U.S. autobiographical writing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I use formalist, theoretical, and computational (sometimes called "digital humanities" or "cultural analytics") approaches to answer persistent intellectual problems. I am thus also interested in the critical analysis of twentieth-century and contemporary computation methods including machine learning, computer vision, and various approaches to text and data mining. My first book, Modernity and Autobiography in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary Representations of Communication and Transportation Technologies (Palgrave, 2017), concerns the relation between autobiographical writing, modernity, and technology in the work of Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Henry Adams. My most recent book, Critical Digital Humanities: The Search for a Methodology (University of Illinois Press, 2019), establishes a new theoretical paradigm for the digital humanities through a reading of new computer-aided techniques that are increasingly used in the humanities, including machine learning and text mining, in relation to literary hermeneutics and critical theory. A forthcoming book, co-authored with Rena J. Mosteirin, explores the creative and critical potentials in the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer source code using critical code studies, erasure poetry, and critical theory. At present, I am working on two major book projects: one addressing the history of computer vision and its major algorithms and another titled "The Awkward Age of Autobiography" that examines the partial, repetitive, and nonlinear forms taken by American fin-de-siècle autobiography and the relationship between these formal shifts to questions of historiography within the period. In past years I have taught courses on the digital humanities, autobiography and selfie culture, the historical representation of interiority and theories of mind, the history and culture of the university, (A) Game of Thrones, nineteenth-century American literature, modern American drama, and several courses on Dartmouth literary history, including one titled "Dartmouth Fictions."

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(603) 646-8612
420 Moore
HB 6207
Department(s): 
English
Institute for Writing and Rhetoric
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
Education: 
B.A. University of Massachusetts, Amherst
A.M. University of Chicago
Ph.D. Indiana University

Selected Publications

James E. Dobson and Rena J. Mosteirin, Moonbit (under contract)

Critical Digital Humanities: The Search for a Methodology (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2019)

Modernity and Autobiography in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary Representations of Communication and Transportation Technologies (Palgrave, 2017)

"Autobiography, Modernity, and Biopolitics: Individuality and Writing the Self at the Fin-de-Siècle." Arizona Quarterly (forthcoming) 

“Narratives of the Later Lives of Frederick Douglass: Old-Age Autobiography Before Senescence” Common-place 17, no. 2 (2017).

"Knowing and Narration: Shirley Jackson and the Campus Novel." In Shirley Jackson: Influences and Confluences, edited by Melanie R. Anderson and Lisa Kröger, 123-141. New York: Routledge, 2016.

"Lucy Larcom and the Time of the Temporal Collapse." Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 33, no. 1 (2016): 82-102.

"Can an Algorithm be Disturbed? Machine Learning, Intrinsic Criticism, and the Digital Humanities." College Literature 42, no.4 (2015): 543- 564. 

"Bits of Autobiography: Radical Deindividualization and Everydayness." Arizona Quarterly 71, no. 1 (2015): 83-99.

"Mark Twain, Memory, and the Failures  of Historicism." The Mark Twain Annual 11 (Fall 2013): 62-76.

Pandey, S., Voorsluys, W., Rahman, M., Buyya, R., Chiu, K., and Dobson, J. “A Grid Workflow Environment for Brain Imaging Analysis on Distributed Systems." Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience 21, no. 16 (2009): 2118-2139.

Pandey, S., Voorsluys, W., Rahman, M., Buyya, R., Chiu, K., and Dobson, J. “Brain Image Registration Analysis Workflow for fMRI Studies on Global Grids," Proceedings of the 23rd IEEE International Conference on Advanced Information Networking and Applications (AINA-09), Bradford, UK, (May 2009).

Van Horn, J.D., Dobson, J.E., Woodward, J., Wilde, M., Zhao, Y., Voeckler, J., Foster, I. “Grid-Based Computing and the Future of Neuroscience Computation.” In Methods in Mind, edited by Carl Senior, Tamara Russell and Michael S. Gazzaniga. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006.

Dobson, J.E,Woodward, J., Schwarz, S.A, Marchesini, J.C, Farid, F., and Smith S., “The Dartmouth Green Grid,” ICCS 2005 Conference Workshop on HPC in Academia (2005).

Van Horn, J.D., Wolfe, J., Agnoli, A., Woodward, J., Schmitt, M., Dobson, J.E., Schumacher, S., and Vance, B. “Neuroimaging Databases as a Resource for Scientific Discovery,” International Review of Neurobiology 66C (2005): 55-87.

Zhao, Y., Dobson, J.E., Foster, I., Moreau L., Wilde, M. “A Notation and System for Expressing and Executing Cleanly TypedWorkflows on Messy Scientific Data,” ACM SIGMOD Record 34 (2005): 37-43.

Zhao, Y., Wilde, M., Foster, I., Voeckler, J., Dobson, J.E., Gilbert, E., Jordan, T. and Quigg, E. “Virtual Data Grid Middleware Services for Data-intensive Science.” Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience 18, no. 6 (2004): 595-608.

Zhao, Y., Wilde, M., Foster, I., Voeckler, J., Jordan, T., Quigg, E., and Dobson J.E, “Grid Middleware Services for Virtual Data Discovery, Composition, and Integration,”  MGC ’04 Proceedings of the 2nd Workshop on Middleware for Grid Computing (2004): 57-62.

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Speaking engagements

“Moonbit: A Creative and Critical Reading of the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer Code” SIGCIS 2018: Stored in Memory. St. Louis, MO. October 2018.

"Techniques of the Computational Observer: Mixed-Method Governmentality and the Image." Plenary Lecture. Futures of American Studies Institute. Hanover, NH. June 2018. 

“Moonbit.” HaPoP 2018: Fourth Symposium on the History and Philosophy of Programming. Oxford, UK. March 2018.

"The Cultural Signficance of kNN" Plenary Talk, Futures of American Studies Institute. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. June 2017.

"Digital American Cultural Studies." DH101. MLA Convention, Philadelphia, PA. January 2017.

"The Exorbitant Question of (Digital) Method," Plenary Talk, Futures of American Studies Institute. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. June 2016.

Roundtable Participant. "Visionary Compacts at Thirty: Literature, Politics, and the Field(-Imaginary) of American Studies'" MLA Convention, Philadelpha, PA. January 2017.

"How Literature Became a Problem: The History of Autobiography in Psychology." 28th Annual Arizona Quarterly Symposium. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. April 2016.

"Machine Learning, Distant Reading, and American Literature,” NeMLA, Hartford, CT. March 2016.

"Narratives of the Later Life of Frederick Douglass: Old Age Autobiography Before Senescence," C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, State College, PA. March 2016.

"Teaching Literature in Public: Large-Scale Online Teaching and Reading." Organizer and Presider. MLA Convention, Austin, TX. January 2016.

"Amateur Theory," American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). Seattle, WA. March 2015.

"The Value of Old Criticism: Periodization and Passé Critique." Panel: Here and After: Periodization and American Literary Studies. MLA Convention, Vancouver, BC. January 2015.

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Works in progress

"Inaugurating the American Renaissance as a Massive Open Online Course" (in prep)

“How Literature Became a Problem: The History of Autobiography in Psychology” (in prep).

"Critical Code Commentaries" (under review)

“Amateur Anxieties: Jack London, Theodore Roosevelt, and Turn-of-the-Century Professional Culture” (under review)

Books

Lectures and Talks