Albert Christ-Janer Creative Research Award 2020
Richard Menke, associate professor of English, is an innovative scholar of Victorian media studies, creatively crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries between literature and technology. He has transformed how scholars think about relationships between the realist Victorian novel and the era’s emerging media and communication technologies, such as the electric telegraph and wireless telegraphy. These advanced methods and tools presented competition to the written word, not by displacing print but by integrating various literary and technological forms. This new, media-rich world became an important element of storylines and themes in Victorian fiction, shaping forms and content of imaginative writing. By the late 19th century, writers began viewing print as only one media among many. Menke illuminates how these changes were continual, rearranging and rebalancing diverse technologies in an expanding system of media. His body of work demonstrates original and substantive contributions to the study of Victorian literature.