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2024-2025 Faculty Fellows

2024-2025 Faculty Fellows – Emerging Technologies and the Human Experience

The Robert Penn Warren Center’s theme for AY 2024-25 is Emerging Technologies and the Human Experience, which will explore technological innovation and its impacts on human flourishing and futures across time. From the printing press to the internet, electricity to quantum mechanics, steam engines to AI: What can humanistic inquiry tell us about the meanings and legacies of these and other technologies? What do emerging technologies reveal about who we are – and what and who we value (and don’t)?

Lydi Conklin

Lydi Conklin has received a Stegner Fellowship, four Pushcart Prizes, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, work-study and tuition scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Emory University, Hedgebrook, Djerassi, and elsewhere. Their fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, One Story, and American Short Fiction. They have drawn cartoons for The New Yorker and Narrative Magazine, and graphic fiction for The Believer and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Their story collection, Rainbow Rainbow, was longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award and The Story Prize. Their novel, Songs of No Provenance, is forthcoming in 2025 from Catapult in the US and Chatto in the UK.

Julie Gamble

Julie Gamble is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies. She earned her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Her current book project investigates urban mobility and the politics of care in Quito, Ecuador. She has also published single and co-authored articles related to gender and urban mobilities in journals like International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and Antipode. She is interested in the ways that gender informs urban experience and how to build fairer cities. She teaches courses on gender, the city, urban mobilities, Latinx urban environments and sustainable urban development.


Huan He

Huan He is an Assistant Professor of English at Vanderbilt University and previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan. His book project, currently titled The Racial Interface, examines digital capitalism through Asian American literature, art, and media. His research appears in Configurations, College Literature, Media-N, Just Tech and an anthology on Asian American game studies. He is also a co-author on a collaboratively written monograph titled Technoskepticism: Between Possibility and Refusal (Stanford UP, forthcoming). Additionally, his poetry can be found in Poetry, Sewanee Review, A Public Space, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

David J. Hess

David J. Hess is Professor of Sociology and the James Thornton Fant Chair in Sustainability Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the Director of Climate and Sustainability Studies, which offers an undergraduate major and minor dedicated to the integration of humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences in the study of climate and environmental problems. His research and teaching are on the sociology, anthropology, and policy studies of science, technology, health, energy, and the environment. He is the recipient of the Robert K. Merton Prize, the Diana Forsythe Prize, the Star-Nelkin Prize (shared with coauthors), and the William H. Wiley Distinguished Professor Award.

Laura Stark

Laura Stark is a historical sociologist of science and medicine, and Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University. Her work has focused on the political economy of “human subjects” research with attention to law, labor, and race. Her recent work has broadened to include the data sciences and she is currently researching the data and environmental inputs and impacts of generative AI. Stark is the author of Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research (UP Chicago, 2012) and The Normals: A People’s History (UP Chicago, under contract). Her latest project is An Environmental History of AI. Stark’s commentaries and book criticism have appeared in The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Science, The New Republic, The LA Times, and other venues.

David Thorstad

David Thorstad is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, Senior Research Affiliate at the Global Priorities Institute, Oxford, and Research Affiliate at the MINT Lab, ANU. Thorstad’s research deals with bounded rationality, global priorities research, and the ethics of emerging technologies. His research asks how bounded agents should figure out what to do and believe, and how the answers to those questions bear on the allocation of philanthropic resources and the ethics of emerging technologies. Thorstad is the author of Inquiry under Bounds (Oxford, forthcoming) and co-editor of Essays on Longtermism (Oxford, forthcoming).

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