Alumni (Fellow)

Jessica Swoboda

Irby Cauthen Jefferson Fellow
Hanover Township, Pennsylvania
B.A. Villanova University (2015)
M.A. Boston College (2017)
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences


Jessica’s dissertation,”Character and Relation: Attention, Attunement, Recognition.” Her primary fields of interest include the modern and contemporary novel, the social dimensions of literature, studies in character, aesthetics, and affect theory. In the fall of 2019, she spent the semester as the graduate assistant for U.Va. Global First: London, and in the summer of 2019, she was awarded an Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences research grant from U.Va.s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Point, Textual Practice, and ASAP/J. Jessica also serves as a copy editor for New Literary History, a leading literary journal of theory and interpretation.

Thesis Description:

Character and Relation: Attention, Attunement, Intersubjectivity
“Character and Relation” explores intercharacter dynamics in novels by Rachel Cusk (Outline, Transit, Kudos), Siri Hustvedt (The Blazing World), Virginia Woolf (To the Lighthouse), and Jamaica Kincaid (Annie John and Lucy). How are characters entangled in transpersonal webs of attachments? How can characters help us unpack the complexities of interpersonal relations? The aim of my dissertation is to show how characters present new modes of relation by attending to their everyday experiences, their affective responses, their nonverbal expressions, and their disposition. I explore these dimensions in order to demonstrate how characters can help us understand the intersubjective implications of theories of attention, attunement, and recognition.

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