Associate Professor of English
At Berea College since 2008
Draper Building, 102B
Spring 2021 Session A
Virtual Office Hours
Mon/Thur: 2:50 – 3:30 p.m. (via Zoom or Slack)
via Slack, Zoom,
and/or by appointment
ENG 485 A (Mon/Thur: 1:00 pm – 2:50 pm)
Jason Cohen is an associate professor of English at Berea College (KY), where he has been the recipient of fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Duke University, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Huntington Library, Jesse Ball duPont foundation, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, International Journal of Humanities and Computing, Upstart Crow, Shakespeare Bulletin, and elsewhere. His scholarship in early modern comparative literature considers the intersection of literary methods with natural and political systems of thought, including historical cartography, book history, and the application of digital and computational methods to historical questions. Lead co-editor of a volume forthcoming from SUNY Press titled Teaching Race in Perilous Times, he is also currently completing a book on Francis Bacon’s natural and political philosophy titled Political by Nature: Forms of the Subject in Francis Bacon’s Thought, 1597-1625. A third project, a cultural history of the 2×4, is in development. His digital projects include founding the longest-running intercollegiate undergraduate research eJournal in the United States, Apollon (2008-2018, now under new leadership) as well as a peer-reviewed and nationally recognized critical mapping project for early modern European colonial cartography, www.Wavesofempire.org. He is the Director of an NEH “Humanities Connections” grant (2017-2021) that is developing a curriculum in digital and computational methods for critical archival studies through an institutional partnership with the historic Appalachian heritage site, the Pine Mountain Settlement School.
In the classroom, I help my students understand how research interests form crucial supplements to the work of thinking deeply, reading trenchantly, and writing precisely. Further, as a part of a community, I regularly ask what outreach means in the contexts of teaching and academic life at Berea. Berea embraces students who combine promise with need; I, too, embrace scholarly commitments alongside the more immediate demands of the classroom, college, and community.
The thinking I encourage in my classrooms is fundamentally synthetic, and I focus classroom discussion as well as reading and writing on the articulation of authentic problems. I see the development of tools that are good to think with as a way to empower my students to “pose problems,” following Paolo Freire’s term in the seminal Pedagogy of the Oppressed, as well as to articulate their responses to such problems authentically. My own training is comparative in nature: I position my scholarship and my teaching similarly at the intersection of literature and philosophy with a particular attention in the classroom to the ways that intersection speaks to film studies, and literary and cultural theory.
Writing is not only good to think with, per se: writing is thinking. The primary mode of writing that I encourage my students to explore is argument-driven analytical writing. Students in my courses write in new modes and challenging formats; they engage in the recursive practices of revision, peer review, research, and the bricolage of critical projects from texts and problems that are good to think with; they write and review writing in pencil, ink, and on screen at various stages of the composition process; they engage in mimetic practices like writing a Platonic dialogue, scripting a manifesto, or developing a paragraph using formal constraints.
I teach my students that their reading should consider the distinctive language and thoughts expressed in a particular passage, enabling them to discover and eventually articulate an insight that they can mark as their own, and thus, to explicate a text with persuasion and originality. Consequently, one of my main goals is to train all my students to read slowly, to read repeatedly, to read as an interpretive practice.