I was elected Junior Research Fellow at Peterhouse, after completing my PhD dissertation at the University of Cambridge in September 2017. My research broadly considers the shifting borderlines between humans and the nonhuman world in modern and contemporary literature and culture. At Cambridge, I lecture and supervise on literature from 1830-present, literary theory, and practical criticism.
Coming to a Close
My book manuscript, titled The Autographic Imagination: Signature and Literature after James Joyce, is currently under review. Signatures and their related fantasies appear in a multitude of settings, literary and otherwise. Graffiti artists sign buildings as an indication of ownership, an act of appropriation. To study someone’s autograph (as graphologists did in the nineteenth century) is to imagine correspondence, whereby handwriting correlates with moral character. When lovers carve initials into trees, they tacitly perform a type of encryption, preserving their feeling within a living surface. Despite the signature’s capacity to enable imaginary relations of this kind — and the manifold literary depictions of similar ideas — there has not been a definitive study of the form.
A second book project — Spheres of Influence: Vessels, Containment, Globalisation — examines how metaphors of containment and actual containers shape literature and culture. I am particularly interested in the way various kinds of containers from the history of science, medicine, art, and law are mobilised as metaphors of the body. Conversely, I trace how abstract containers touch down upon the world through literature, film, and visual art. While there has been research on the imaginative possibilities of boxes in early modern literature, we are lacking an account of post-1800 containers, or, how political, psychoanalytic, and scientific notions of containment influenced the period’s cultural output.
Hunter Dukes | Junior Research Fellow | Peterhouse, Cambridge | CB2 1RD | hbd23 (at) cam.ac.uk