DR. CHERYL SPINNER is Adjunct Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at the College of Charleston. She holds a doctorate in English and a Certificate in Feminist Studies from Duke University, where she was a Nathan J. Perilman Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies and a PhD Lab Scholar in Digital Knowledge at the Franklin Humanities Center. She received an MA in English from Georgetown University where she was awarded an English Fellowship at Georgetown's Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS). Her projects draw connections between magic and science in nineteenth- and early-twentieth century American Literature and culture. Her research areas more broadly include science and technology studies, the study of gender and sexuality, visual culture studies, histories of photography, theories of the archive, and the long history of magic and the occult.
Her current book project Debunk Me Not: Science and Romantic Feeling explores the communities at the margins of normative science, whose belief supernatural belief systems were written out of Western modernity’s project of secularization in the 19th- and early 20th-twentieth centuries. She returns to the literature and supernatural testimonies of authors and figures such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lydia Maria Child, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Henry James, Ella Cheever Thayer, Abraham Lincoln’s spirit-medium Nettie Colburn Maynard, W. E. B. Du Bois, Harry Houdini, and black clairvoyant physician and sex magician Pascal Beverly Randolph, among others. Combining science studies and queer approaches to norms, she shows how the exclusion of these modes from rationalist epistemologies of science and history are gendered, racialized, and a function of romantic feelings we have directed towards modern science and technology.
Click here to read more about a recent invited lecture she gave on "Intuitive Historiography in the Archive" at UW-Madison's Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.
She has taken numerous workshops at the Center for Alternative Photography in New York City. These intensive workshops have changed the way she thinks and writes about photography and, as a scholar-artist, her work employ creative visual components. She has presented examples of her photographic work at national academic conferences, such as the American Studies Association and the Association of Jewish Studies. She has also taken courses at the Center for Documentary Studies.
Her photographic work employs a variety of analog photographic techniques. Her cameras of choice include her Bolex, her Hasselblad, fondly named Hedy, her Holgaroid, and Polaroid Land Camera.
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