University of South Florida
College of Arts and Sciences
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Office: CPR 358-D
Email: mmtaylor2 (at) usf.edu
Michelle M. Taylor specializes in nineteenth-century British literature, animal studies, and the digital humanities (especially the Text-Encoding Initiative, or TEI). Her role at USF centers around general education literature (LIT 2000), for which she serves as program coordinator. She also teaches multiple sections of LIT 2000 each semester.
When teaching LIT 2000, Dr. Taylor’s current approach is to introduce students to texts from both the United States and Britain ranging in publication from the early 1800s all the way to the present. She employs multiple digital assignment types in addition to the traditional literary analysis essay—including projects based on text encoding and statistical data analysis—as a means of teaching close reading skills. In doing so, she hopes both to interest STEM students in literature and to show humanities-minded students how other fields of study, even those often considered to be methodologically at odds with English, can actually aid the study of literature. Once she feels she has amassed enough data points, Dr. Taylor hopes to publish on her experiences teaching with TEI in particular.
Dr. Taylor’s current book project, Mongrel Genres: Victorians, Dogs, and Literature, focuses on the status of the dog in three genres/genre clusters: epitaphs and elegies; detective and sensation fiction; and dog autobiographies. In all three cases, canine characters push these genres to their limits, forcing authors to re-evaluate and adapt their genres’ anthropocentric conventions to become more suitable for animal subjects. Along the way, the texts she examines reveal key shifts in thought about dogs’ mental and emotional capabilities, all of which are tied to the genres in which they appear. Ultimately, Dr. Taylor demonstrates how the dog literature of the nineteenth century has influenced present-day literature about animals, including the bestselling novels The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and The Art of Racing in the Rain.
Dr. Taylor also serves as the Technical Editor and Project Manager of the Wesley Works Digital Edition, which is in the earliest stages of digitizing The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley (Abingdon Press) by encoding them into TEI. She is working with undergraduate and graduate students at USF, Duke University, Southern Methodist University, and others on this project.