Devin M. Garofalo
Devin M. Garofalo’s research and teaching focus on nineteenth-century British literature, the environmental humanities, empire, and poetry and poetics. Her current book project, Interworlds: Nature, Scale, Form in the Long Nineteenth Century, explores how Romantic and Victorian poets and scientists imagined the category of “world” as making visible otherwise invisible and potentially radical blueprints of material and political relationality. She considers how nineteenth-century thinkers were acutely aware of the formal and scalar variety of material life: of how the human body might function, from the perspective of an insect, as an entire world, even as the category of “world” also comprises the luminous bodies glimmering in the night sky. In this context, to inhabit a world is not to exist in a bounded, harmonically arranged, self-enclosed sphere. On the contrary, for nineteenth-century poets and scientists, to inhabit a world is to shuttle fluidly and unsystematically across a plenum of overlapping, intersecting, and colliding forms. This plenum reconfigures conventional oppositions between subject and object, human and nonhuman, individual and collective, conveying experimental models for the organization of material and political life. Ultimately, Interworlds shows how the category of “world” affords a lens for navigating the changing scales of space and time at stake in the nineteenth-century cosmopolitan imaginary. It also makes a broader conceptual move. Whereas recent theoretical debates about the global and the planetary often resist the category of “world” on political grounds, Garofalo reclaims its nineteenth-century complexity as an affordance for the environmental humanities.
Portions of this project have appeared in Essays in Romanticism and Women’s Writing. An essay on Victorian theories of extinction and Alfred Lord Tennyson’s posthuman worlds is forthcoming in Victorian Literature and Culture. Prior to joining the English Department at Florida Atlantic University, Garofalo was an A. W. Mellon Public Humanities Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for the Humanities, where she oversaw the Great World Texts in Wisconsin program.