MemberFrancisco Antonio Montaño

Francisco Antonio Montaño is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages & Literatures and in the Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics at Lehman College, CUNY.  He joined the Department of Languages and Literatures in 2009.  He received his A.B. (French) from Princeton University, his M.A. in French Linguistics from Indiana University, and earned dual Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University in French (French Linguistics track) and Linguistics. His current research focuses on diachronic and synchronic French phonology, Romance linguistics, syllable-sensitive phonological change, consonant cluster phonotactics, prosody, language contact, and language pedagogy. 

MemberNelson Goering

…Norse Influence on Middle English Prosody (British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship)…

I’m a linguist and philologist specialized in the earlier history of the Germanic languages, including Old and Middle English, Old Norse, Gothic, Old Frisian, Old Saxon, and Old High German. I currently hold a British Academy postdoctoral fellowship to research Norse Influence on Middle English Prosody. Based on this work, I am preparing a book manuscript synthesizing the phonological and metrical evidence for foot structure in medieval English and Old Norse. I maintain a broad interest in what used to be called Germanic comparative philology, including the phonological and morphological development of the Germanic languages from Proto-Indo-European. This field combines close attention to ancient and medieval texts as the primary sources for information about older languages, and a grounding in the typology of languages around the world and current thinking about the possibilities and constraints concerning how languages and Language in general work. My ongoing blog series The History of the English Language in A Hundred Words aims to bring the full history of English, from its earliest reconstructible prehistory to the present day, to a wider public in a readable and reliable way.

MemberErin J. Kappeler

I am an assistant professor of English at Tulane University, where I teach courses in transnational modernism, poetry and poetics, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. My current book project, The Secret History of Free Verse: American Prosody and Poetics 1880–1933, is the first historical account of free verse as a race-based construction. Extant scholarship positions free verse as an American effort to revitalize a dying art in an era of simplistic, repetitive Victorian poetry. I show instead that the intellectual origins of free verse lie in attempts to allay fears about the future of white American identity. My research methods draw from historical poetics, a field of study that examines poetic forms, genres, and theories in their social and political contexts in order to better understand the historically specific cultural work poems have performed. My particular methodology in this project has been to scour the journals, literary magazines, and poetry anthologies of the time in order to demonstrate the influence of the newly institutionalized fields of ethnology and anthropology on the poetry and criticism of the late nineteenth century. Under this influence, critics and academics promoted free verse as an expression of the (white) American race they imagined was emerging in the New World. My research identifies the fundamental but, until now, neglected connections between prosodic theories of free verse and constructions of American whiteness, and shows how these discourses shaped popular and academic understandings of African-American and Native American poetry. The Secret History of Free Verse offers new readings of key American authors and publications, including Walt Whitman, James Weldon Johnson, and Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine, and breaks new ground by reconceptualizing the role that poetry has played in circulating ideas about racial and national identity to a broad reading public. I have also received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Massachusetts Historical Society for a planned second book, Everyday Laureates: Community Poetry in New England 1865-1900, which explores the reading practices of amateur poetry societies.  

MemberCourtney Weiss Smith

… of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 57.2 (2016): 251-65.
See also other recent writing: “The Science of Prosody, circa 1677” and “Where Does Language Come From?”…

Courtney Weiss Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Wesleyan University. She is also Affiliated Faculty in the Science in Society Program at Wesleyan and Associate Editor at History & Theory. Her research and teaching focus on the literary, cultural, and intellectual history of England in the long eighteenth century. Her first book, Empiricist Devotions, was the winner of the Walker Cowen Memorial Prize for outstanding scholarship in eighteenth-century studies. Currently, she is writing The Sound of Sense in Enlightenment England, a history of ideas about poetic sound (including rhyme, onomatopoeia, alliteration, pun, and polyptoton). The project explores how poets but also philosophers and natural philosophers understood the material forms that words took.