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Dr Jonathan Schroeder



My research and teaching focus on race, ethnicity, and migration in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Americas. Out of an investment in designing better ways of studying these areas, I am also interested in how methodology impacts what we say about our objects of study. Accordingly, I use a number of theoretical approaches in my work, including the new empiricism of the Digital Humanities, the historical epistemology of Michel Foucault, the materialist turn in cultural studies, and even biography.

Before coming to Warwick, I was a postdoctoral fellow in English and Digital Humanities at Yale University. The DH project I began there, Passages to Freedom: Worlding the North American Slave Narrative, maps the routes taken by the authors of the 103-known autobiographical slave narratives that were published before Emancipation in 1863.

My academic book project, Prisoners of Loss: An Atlantic History of Nostalgia, recovers the conceptual and institutional histories of nostalgia in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century medicine. During this period, nostalgia referred to the disease of forced migration, and was exclusively diagnosed in sailors, soldiers, convicts, slaves, and other groups whose labour separated them from home. It frequently killed its victims, either leading them to die of starvation or inadvertently commit suicide while in the grips of powerfully lush and voluptous hallucinations of home. This study traces the spread of this concept across the Atlantic via three institutions of containment: slavery, the military, and shipping. More broadly, it constitutes a case history that demonstrates the roles that pathological emotion and motion have played in forming the notorious concepts of race and ethnicity.

Finally, I am also writing a biography of John S. Jacobs, who is today best known as the brother of Harriet Jacobs. A career sailor and lifelong expatriate after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Jacobs's life represents an untold story in American history, the story of the African-Americans whose pursuit of happiness led them to leave America.

Research Interests:

Literatures of the Americas, Transatlantic Literature, African American Literature, History of Medicine, History of Science, Race Ethnicity and Migration Studies, Digital Humanities, Affect Studies, Posthumanism, Materialism, Historical Epistemology

Teaching and Supervision:

I co-direct the English and History degree programme and convene its first-year core module, EN126: History & Textuality. This year, I am also teaching a new module, EN392: Race, Ethnicity, and Migration in the Americas.

Selected Publications: 

Rethinking Ahab: Melville and the Materialist Turn. Edited by Meredith Farmer and Jonathan Schroeder (under contract with University of Minnesota Press)

“What was Black Nostalgia?” American Literary History (Fall 2018)

Michel Foucault. “Structuralism and Literary Analysis.” Translated by Jonathan Schroeder and Suzanne Taylor. Critical Inquiry (forthcoming)

“The Painting of Modern Light: Local Color before Regionalism.” American Literature 86, no. 3 (2014): 551-581.


BA Dartmouth College

MA Brown University

PhD University of Chicago

Office Hours 2017-2018:

Wednesday 12.00-1.00; Thursday 15.00-16.00; and by appointment

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