James E. Dobson

Lecturer, Department of English
Lecturer, Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies
Lecturer in 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 digital humanities approaches to answer persistent intellectual problems. My broader intellectual interests include the the phenomenological accounts of lived experience and how early psychology, sociology, and historiography contributed to and were influenced by literary accounts of the self. My first book, Modernity and Autobiography in Nineteenth-Century America: Literary Representations of Communication and Transportation Technologies (Palgrave, forthcoming), concerns the relation between autobiographical writing, modernity, and technology in the work of Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, and Henry Adams. My present book project, called "Digital Humanities in Search of a Method," examines literary criticism, scientism, and the digital humanities by placing new computer-aided techniques used in the humanities including machine learning and text mining in relation to hermeneutics and modern criticism. Another book project, titled "The Awkward Age of Autobiography," 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. I have published essays related to this area of interest on major figures including Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, and Lucy Larcom. In past years I have taught courses on the historical representation of interiority and theories of mind, the history and culture of the university, nineteenth-century American literature, Modern American Drama, and a popular course on Dartmouth called "Dartmouth College in Fiction and in Fact." In 2015 I taught one of Dartmouth's inagural Massive Open Online (MOOC) courses with my colleague Donald E. Pease titled "The American Renaissance." 

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

Selected Publications

"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.

"What does the ‘Temporal Turn’ Mean for Autobiography? 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

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

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

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.

"The Telephonic Self: A Non-Systemic Systems Theory of Autobiography." American Circuits, American Secrets. Banff, Alberta. September 2014.

Panel Chair. "American Traumas: History, Memory, Violence." International Conference on Narrative. Cambridge, MA. March 2014.

"Newer New or Coming After?: Americanist Literary Criticism at the Present Moment" Organizer and Presider. MLA Convention, Chicago, IL. January 2014.

“Autobiography in Neuroscience and Neuroscience in Autobiography” NeMLA, Boston, MA. March 2013.

“What does the ‘Temporal Turn’ Mean for Autobiography? Mark Twain, Memory, and the Failures of Historicism” Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College, Elmira, NY. October 2012.

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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)

Lectures and Talks