Elizabeth Cornell, PhD, is the director of communications for Fordham IT at Fordham University, where she manages internal and external communications for the department. Prior to that she was a post-doctoral fellow in English at Fordham, where she taught American literature and composition classes. She is a member of the steering committee for the NYCDH, as well as the Digital Humanities Working Group at Fordham. She helps plan and coordinate digital humanities events and provides support for faculty, students, and staff who are working on DH projects. She is a founder of the Fordham’s Graduate Student Digital Humanities Group. She is also a contributing editor to the Digital Yoknapatawpha Project (UVA Library’s Digital Media Center) and manages the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Facebook page. Formerly, she served as project coordinator for the Keywords Collaboratory. Go to her LinkedIn profile.
“The Einstein Phenomenon: Modern American Literature and the Popularization of Relativity Theory” argues that Einstein’s theory of relativity contributed to the development of American modernism. Via extensive archival work, this study investigates Einstein’s novel concepts of space, time, and light as they appeared in popularized form appeared in newspapers, magazines, and books written for nonscientific audiences. I argue that William Faulkner, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Untermeyer encountered Einstein’s ideas in these popular contexts and reimagined them in their work. Although the new physics may seem too abstract and specialized a field to have influenced literary production, its concepts offered writers new ways to think about narrative structures and poetic forms, and helped them navigate and respond to an increasingly alienating and technologized world. This study thus offers a new picture of American literature as shaped by physics and highlights historical ties between the sciences and the humanities.