Emily Vasiliauskas

2018 Hellman Fellow


Assistant Professor, English

Project Title: The Skull in the Mirror: Death and Time in Early Modern Aesthetic

Project Research: Emily Vasiliauskas’ research contributes to an emerging body of scholarship in literary studies and art history that returns to fundamental questions about time.  It employs a methodology that might best be described as “reading for aesthetics.”  This scholarship advances the view that poems and painting do not merely illustrate aesthetic ideas but rather are themselves the site where these ideas take form.

Emily’s goal is to provide a historical and philosophical account of the “literary afterlife,” an interval of time after a text has declined from its ideal form but before it has become culturally invisible, when the things of the past persist into the present, not because they are illustrious classics, but because they have survived in more ordinary ways.  The literary afterlife exposes a disproportion between aesthetic temporality and our own temporality, a disproportion which makes it possible for texts to convey oblivion to us without themselves ceasing to exist.

Emily’s Hellman Fellowship will allow her to employ a student research assistant during the summer of 2018, who will assist Emily in revisions of the manuscript already in process.  It will also fund her travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.  She plans to submit a book proposal to the University of Chicago Press during the current academic year, in the hopes of securing a contract and benefiting from editorial advice during her assistant professor leave, when she will undertake the final phase of writing and revision.