Associate Professor of English Literature Lara Langer Cohen is the recipient of a 2017-2018 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).
The award, named for a president emeritus of ACLS, is open to recently tenured humanists and supports an academic year of residence at one of 13 participating residential research centers. Cohen will spend the year at the University of Pennsylvania working to complete her current book project, Before Subculture: Nineteenth-Century Genealogies of the Underground.
In the book, Cohen “excavates the emergence of the concept of the underground in the U.S.,” she explains. “The project examines a vibrant world of 19th-century subterranean writing, including Black radical manifestos, anarchist periodicals, secret societies’ initiation rites, and amateur newspapers.”
Given its close proximity to Swarthmore, the University of Pennsylvania might seem like an odd choice, but Cohen explains why it is a great fit.
“When I first began thinking about applying, my impulse was to choose an unfamiliar location, for the sake of trying something new,” she says. “But I kept coming back to Penn as a model for the kind of vibrant intellectual environment that would benefit my work. And I hope Penn's proximity to Swarthmore will actually allow me to build institutional connections that will last beyond my time there.”
Cohen, who joined Swarthmore's faculty in 2013, focuses her teaching and research on early American literature. She is the author of The Fabrication of American Literature: Fraudulence and Antebellum Print Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) and is co-editor of Early African American Print Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012).