Faculty Profile

David Ball

Associate Professor of English (2007)

Contact Information

balld@dickinson.edu

East College Room 401
717.245.1116
http://blogs.dickinson.edu/balld/

Bio

My areas of expertise include nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture, American modernism, graphic narratives, and literary theory. These eclectic interests shape both the form and content of my classes, which are all structured as multidisciplinary inquiries into the ways that literary study informs, and is informed by, other fields of knowledge. In the coming semesters, I plan to teach courses in multicultural American literature, contemporary literary theory, graphic narrative, experimental literature, and the the intersections between literary and art history.

Education

  • B.A., Stanford University, 1998
  • M.A., Princeton University, 2003
  • Ph.D., 2007

2016-2017 Academic Year

Fall 2016

ENGL 101 Transntl Graphic Narrative
This course will serve as an introduction to an emerging medium in contemporary world literature: the graphic narrative. Beginning with a brief historical study of comics through the twentieth century, we will be examining recent graphic novels and memoirs by artists/writers such as Alison Bechdel, Chris Ware, Shaun Tan, Guy Delisle, Marjane Satrapi, Joe Sacco, Dylan Horrocks, and Taiyo Matsumoto, among others. Among the questions we will be asking are: How might the differing cultural contexts in which comics are created necessitate we read and see differently? How does the putatively universal language of comics cross, or remain confined by, national borders? We’ll pursue these questions with an eye toward developing the core skills of literary analysis, critical thinking, and argument-based writing. Students will be asked to compose their own online comics, write multiple thesis-driven essays, and complete a final examination.

ENGL 101 Imagining Nations in World Lit
What does it mean to imagine yourself as a member of a nation? Where do you belong if you move between nations? What happens to individuals and families when nations are fractured and reconstituted? These are the questions that haunt global citizens – those who are journeying across and within nations, both familiar and foreign. This course considers the contentious definitions of “nation,” “identity,” “citizen,” and “family” that emerge from contemporary works of Polynesian, Asian, American, and African Diasporic literature. We will focus on 20th and 21st century literature by authors who are, themselves, global citizens: Carlos Bulosan, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Haunani-Kay Trask, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and Taiye Selasi. Through close and contextualized readings, we will analyze how these authors’ poetry, short stories, and novels imagine individuals and families within national and transnational contexts. We will consider how characters’ experiences are shaped by race, gender, class, and sexuality, paying particular attention to the colonial and postcolonial histories that inform these narratives. In the process, we will interrogate the very categories that frame this course, considering the histories and communities that are included and excluded from the designations we employ. Various critical frameworks, including Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies, and Diaspora Studies, will inform our readings and discussions.

LALC 300 Routes thru the Early Americas
Cross-listed with SPAN 380-01 and ENGL 370-01.This course will count toward the pre-1800 or post-1800 English major requirement depending on what subjects/writers the indvidual student chooses for his/her projects. The professor of the course will send the appropriate designation for each student to the Registrar's Office for coding in Banner after the semester is complete. One lens through which to view the history and literary history of the Americas, North and South, is that of national, cultural, and linguistic frontiers. Traditional understandings of this frontier have been dominated by Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis, which conceives of that frontier as a single, westward-moving, and continuously receding line across the North American continent that separates the civilized from the barbarous. Recent historians and literary critics of both British and Spanish America have challenged this model, employing theories that employ a hemispheric perspective and take into account zones of contact that are multidirectional, contested, and often discontinuous. We’ll be testing these hypotheses throughout the semester, as we look at representative works from multicultural and multidisciplinary texts in the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, including travel journals, political documents, and the visual arts, in addition to more conventionally ‘literary’ works. At stake will be not only the boundaries of indigenous, colonial, and new national territories, but the very meaning of the terms “American” and the “Americas.” Taught in English.

ENGL 349 Border Cross/Asian Am Fiction
The 2012 US Census reported that Asians were the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States that year, totaling almost 19 million. As a population that has made and continues to make significant contributions to the American economy and to American culture more broadly, Asian Americans face an ongoing struggle to define their place within the United States. This struggle has been profoundly shaped by experiences of migration, the repercussions of war, changing socio-economic dynamics, and shifting immigration policies. Attentive to these contexts, this course explores the various borders and border crossings that emerge across works of 20th and 21st century Asian American literature. We will read authors such as Edith Maud Eaton (Sui Sin Far), Gish Jen, Nam Le, Carlos Bulosan, Bharati Mukherjee, and lê thi diem thúy. Our discussions of these authors' works will consider the following questions: What kinds of borders are imagined in these texts? How do characters negotiate and contest these borders? How do race, gender, citizenship, and class influence both the construction and destruction of borders? What cultural ties and alliances – personal and political – influence these border crossings? We will unpack the ways in which literary texts articulate diverse immigrant experiences and engage the tensions between different cultural traditions. In the process, we will debate the very definition of “Asian American,” paying close attention to the socio-political histories that inform this category.

ENGL 370 Routes thru the Early Americas
Cross-listed with LALC 300-01 and SPAN 380-01.This course will count toward the pre-1800 or post-1800 English major requirement depending on what subjects/writers the indvidual student chooses for his/her projects. The professor of the course will send the appropriate designation for each student to the Registrar's Office for coding in Banner after the semester is complete. One lens through which to view the history and literary history of the Americas, North and South, is that of national, cultural, and linguistic frontiers. Traditional understandings of this frontier have been dominated by Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis, which conceives of that frontier as a single, westward-moving, and continuously receding line across the North American continent that separates the civilized from the barbarous. Recent historians and literary critics of both British and Spanish America have challenged this model, employing theories that employ a hemispheric perspective and take into account zones of contact that are multidirectional, contested, and often discontinuous. We’ll be testing these hypotheses throughout the semester, as we look at representative works from multicultural and multidisciplinary texts in the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, including travel journals, political documents, and the visual arts, in addition to more conventionally ‘literary’ works. At stake will be not only the boundaries of indigenous, colonial, and new national territories, but the very meaning of the terms “American” and the “Americas.” Taught in English.

SPAN 380 Routes thru the Early Americas
Cross-listed with ENGL 370-01 and LALC 300-01.This course will count toward the pre-1800 or post-1800 English major requirement depending on what subjects/writers the indvidual student chooses for his/her projects. The professor of the course will send the appropriate designation for each student to the Registrar's Office for coding in Banner after the semester is complete. One lens through which to view the history and literary history of the Americas, North and South, is that of national, cultural, and linguistic frontiers. Traditional understandings of this frontier have been dominated by Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis, which conceives of that frontier as a single, westward-moving, and continuously receding line across the North American continent that separates the civilized from the barbarous. Recent historians and literary critics of both British and Spanish America have challenged this model, employing theories that employ a hemispheric perspective and take into account zones of contact that are multidirectional, contested, and often discontinuous. We’ll be testing these hypotheses throughout the semester, as we look at representative works from multicultural and multidisciplinary texts in the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries, including travel journals, political documents, and the visual arts, in addition to more conventionally ‘literary’ works. At stake will be not only the boundaries of indigenous, colonial, and new national territories, but the very meaning of the terms “American” and the “Americas.” Taught in English.