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Dr. Thomas W. Howard

Brookings Hall (square - small)

Thomas W. Howard received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2023. His research focuses on nineteenth-century American and transatlantic literature, literature and science, and environmental humanities. His work has been supported by The Huntington Library, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), and a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Germany.

His current book project, Aphoristic Science: Speculative Ambiguity in Nineteenth-Century American Ecology and Psychology, explores a stream of aphoristic thinking that permeated American scientific prose in the long nineteenth century. Tracing a transatlantic network from Francis Bacon’s aphorismoi to the fragmentary Aphorismus in German-speaking countries, Aphoristic Science centers the speculative aphorism in emergent sciences like ecology and psychology. Rather than closing off inquiry with rigid taxonomy, the scientific aphorism encourages continuous experimentation among receptive readers. This project reorients dominant critical discussions in literature and science, which tend to emphasize the unidirectional influence of scientific discoveries on literary texts. Instead, Aphoristic Science argues that literary features—embodied most explicitly in the rise of the aphorism—were foundational for emerging scientific fields.