Prof Jani Scandura

Jani Scandura was a magazine writer before returning to graduate school and maintains an interest both in mass culture and writing more generally (though more often recently in the aesthetics of theoretical writing). She is also Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Space & Place Collective. Her primary research and teaching interests are in North American and European modernisms and modernities and North American fiction, poetry, film, material and mass culture. She has subspecialties in African-American literature, cultural studies, critical theory and an outsider's view of cultural geography. Overall, her research centers on developing the tools and theoretical models for rethinking the way we understand and theorize modern subjectivity, representation, and materiality. Her current research includes engagements with 19th century science, contemporary musicology and sound theory, French modernism, and Holocaust and Japanese American internment memory. Her book, Down in the Dumps: Place, Modernity and American Depression, is in press at Duke University Press. It investigates Depression-era productions of four places“”Reno, Key West, Harlem, Hollywood“”which functioned as discursive, material, and affective “dumps“ within American modernity. Through an analysis of these places, and the texts that produced them, she charts the trajectory of what she calls depressive modernity“”which she defines as modernity in place. This book extends from work she began in Modernism, Inc: Body, Memory, Capital (New York University Press, 2001), co-edited with Michael Thurston, an interdisciplinary anthology that explores the multiple meanings of incorporation“”embodiment, repressed memory, advanced capitalism“”in order to rethink American modernism and modernity. She is working on two current projects: Suitcase: Fragments on Memory and Motion is a short fragmentary work that literalizes the quest to extend a metaphor at its most extreme. Situating the ordinary suitcase as a central object and trope in modernist art, literature and memorial practices, this project meditates on the significance and consequences of how and under what circumstances matter becomes metaphor. A second, more long-term project, Dead Air: Affect and the Acoustic Subject, analyzes the relationships between sound, emotion, and subject-formation in modern Euro-American cultures. She has also published work on Victorian medicine.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. : English, University of Michigan, 1997.


  • cultural studies and critical theory, esp. theories of modernity, materiality, subjectivity
  • 20th century North American literatures, film, visual and mass culture
  • European, American and (recently) Japanese modernisms
  • theories of space and place; stuff--theories of matter, objects, things, refuse, trash
  • sound and acoustic culture, memory; history of science, medicine and its intersections with philosophy
  • writing in cultures impacted by US imperialisms (especially Cuba)
Courses Taught
  • Seminar in Special Subjects: STUFF: Materiality and Modernity
  • Topics in Cultural Theory: Motion and Memory
  • Modern Debris
  • American Modernisms and Modernities
  • The City: Modernity, Postmodernity, and After
  • Advanced Topics in Cultural Theory: Sound, Space, and Modernity
  • Topics in American Lit.: American Depressive Modernity
  • The City: Modernity, Postmodernity, and After
  • Modern and Contemporary Theory: Vampires, Monsters, and Freaks
  • First Year Seminar: Avant-garde modernisms
  • Honors Textual Analysis and Methods: SKIN
  • Modern Literary Criticism and Theory: Modern Matters
  • Senior Seminar: Modernisms and Modernities US Imperialisms and Colonialisms
  • Hollywood
  • Studies in Film: Hollywood
  • Senior Seminar: American Modernisms and Modernities
  • First Year Honors Seminar: North American Imperialisms
  • Advanced North American Imperialisms and Colonialisms
  • Multicultural American Literature
  • American Poetry from 1900: Poetry and Popular Culture
  • EngL 1621 - Introduction to Women Writers
  • Sad Effects: Scandura, Jani, Cultural Critique, 92 153-167, 2016.
  • ‘Despite the horror of the detail’: Ishiuchi Miyako’s ひろしま hiroshima: Scandura, Jani, Eds. Babette Tischleder and Sarah Wasserman, London: Palgrave, The Cultures of Obsolescence: History, Materiality and the Digital Age, 2015.
  • Sweat: A Memory of Waste: Scandura, Jani, M/C Journal, Vol 13. No. 4 , 2010.
  • Suitcase: Fragments on Memory and Motio. Scandura, Jani, Author, spring 2009.
  • “Refused Modernity.“: Scandura, Jani, Blackwell, Blackwell Companion to the Modern American Novel 1900-1950, forthcoming.
  • Down in the Dumps: Place, Modernity, and American Depression. Scandura, Jani, Duke University Press, Author, 2008. Link
  • “Cinematic Insomnia.“: Scandura, Jani, New Formations, 53 , 2004.
  • Modernism, Inc.: Body, Memory, Capital. Scandura, Jani, Michael Thurston., New York University Press, Co-Editor, 2001. Link
  • America and The Phantom Modern.“: Scandura, Jani, Michael Thurston, New York University Press, Introduction to: Modernism, Inc.: Body, Memory, Capital, 2001.
  • “Reno-vating Gender: Place, Production, and the Reno Divorce Factory.“: Scandura, Jani, New York University Press, Modernism, Inc.: Body, Memory, Capital, 2001.
  • Libretto for Alice. A ballet and recitative arranged for two pianos and a mezzo-soprano. Braxton Blake, composer. Freda Herseth, mezzo-soprano. Performed May 1996 in Darmstadt, Germany. April 1998 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio.
  • “Deadly Professions: Dracula, Undertakers and the Embalmed Corpse.“: Scandura, Jani, Victorian Studies, 40.1 , 1997.
  • Dead Air: Affect and Acoustic Memory
  • Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota, Faculty Fellowship, 2008 - 2009