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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of English Language and Literature

Faculty and Staff Directory

Michael Gavin

Associate Professor
Department of English Language and Literature

Phone Number: (803) 576-5960
Office: HUO 310


Ph.D., English, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 2010
B.A., English, The Ohio State University, 1999

Areas of Specialization 

   Digital Humanities
   Restoration and 18th-century English Literature and Culture

Recently Taught Courses 

I regularly teach courses and supervise students in British literature and digital humanities. 

   SCHC 452   Digital Humanities: Mapping Cultural and Environmental History
   ENGL 718    English Literature of the later Eighteenth Century
   ENGL 415    The English Novel
   ENGL 288    Introduction to British Literature

Current Research Projects 

I write and teach about literature, intellectual history, and digital humanities. Broadly speaking, I'm interested in the ways that technology affects communication. My first book, The Invention of English Criticism, 1650-1760 (Cambridge University Press, 2015) describes the popularization of literary debate over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This book was motivated by a desire to understand how, given the immutable fact that critics never agree and about much of anything, we can know much of anything about literature and sometimes even come to a shared understanding. Since completing that book, my research has expanded this line of inquiry into the present, asking how new forms of digital writing might make possible new ways of thinking and talking about literature and history. I’m particularly interested in computational linguistics, network science, geospatial modeling, and agent-based simulation.

I usually am juggling several ongoing digital humanities research projects. Any students (undergraduate or graduate) who would like to work on DH research for course credit as an independent study should apply by emailing me directly at the address above.

Selected Publications 

   • The Invention of English Criticism, 1650 - 1760 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

   • “Scotland’s Poetics of Space: An Experiment in Geospatial Semantics,” Michael Gavin and Eric Gidal, Cultural Analytics (forthcoming)
   • “Vector Semantics, William Empson, and the Study of Ambiguity,” Critical Inquiry (forthcoming)
   • “Spaces of Meaning: Vector Semantics, Conceptual History, and Close Reading,” Michael Gavin, Collin Jennings, Lauren Kersey, and Brad Pasanek, Debates in Digital Humanities (forthcoming)
   • “Historical Text Networks: The Sociology of Early English Criticism,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 50, 1 (Fall 2016): 53-80
   • “Agent-Based Modeling and Historical Simulation,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 8, 4 (2014)
   • “Real Robinson Crusoe,” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 25, 2 (Winter 2012-13): 301-25
   • “Writing Print Cultures Past: Literary Criticism and Book History,” Book History 15 (2012): 26-47
   • “Critics and Criticism in the Poetry of Anne Finch,” ELH 78, 3 (Fall 2011): 633-55
   • “James Boswell and the Uses of Criticism,” SEL 50, 3 (Summer 2010): 665-81

Recent Presentations 

   • “The Mathematical Structure of Geographical Description,” Indiana Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies Annual Workshop, Bloomington, May 2017
   • “A Mathematical Theory of Authorial Intention,” Interacting with Print Annual Workshop, McGill University, Montreal, March 2017
   • “Vector Semantics as a Theory of Concepts,” Conceptual Change: Digital Humanities Case Studies, Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland, December 2015
   • “Artificial Data: Social Simulation and Book History,” The Rutgers Seminar for the History of the Book, Rutgers University, March 2014
   • “Agent-Based Modeling and Historical Simulation,” The Complex Systems Institute, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, November 2013