Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania
Jean-Christophe Cloutier is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD from Columbia University where he also interned as an archivist and processed the papers of Samuel Roth, Erica Jong, and Barney Rosset. He is the editor of the original French writings of Jack Kerouac, La vie est d’hommage (Boréal, 2016), and translator of Kerouac’s two French novellas, “The Night is My Woman” (La nuit est ma femme) and “On the Road: Old Bull in the Bowery” (Sur le chemin), in The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished & Newly Translated Writings (Library of America, 2016), where his “Translator’s Note” also appears. He contributed the essay on the 1948 “Harlem Is Nowhere” collaboration between Ralph Ellison and Gordon Parks for Invisible Man: Gordon Parks and Ralph Ellison in Harlem (Steidl/The Gordon Parks Foundation/The Art Institute of Chicago, 2016). His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, BOMB magazine, Le Monde, Maclean’s, and several other media outlets. Cloutier’s articles, reviews, and translations have also appeared in Modernism/modernity, Novel, Cinema Journal, Public Books, A Time for the Humanities, and elsewhere.
“Archival Vagabonds” explores the archival investments of novelists not typically associated with archival practices—Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Patricia Highsmith, and Jack Kerouac—in order to elucidate how these writers preserved, arranged, and reanimated their own living collections. For discarded drafts, lost or aborted projects, and waylaid ephemera, archives can represent a second act. The curiously anthropomorphic concept of a record’s “life-cycle,” which designates the way that documents pass through different roles and phases, has become an integral part of official records administration since the 1950s. My project brings the lifecycle model to bear upon literary papers, and considers how novelists anticipate and manage the journeys of their own papers before these ever reach the reference desk. The title refers at once to the authors’ migratory trajectories and to the different forking paths their own files follow across several lifecycles, including, ultimately, that of posthumous publication—and literary scholarship. In addition to detailed investigative chapters steeped in archival evidence, the study also aims to offer useful suggestions for negotiating archival materials in contemporary scholarly practice.
Spring 2017: Hutchins Fellow