Rachel Seiler Smith

Brittain Fellow

Member Of:
  • School of Literature, Media, and Communication
  • Writing and Communication Program
Office Location:
Hall 121
Office Hours:
Tuesdays/Thursdays 12 - 1 p.m., and by appointment
Related Links:


Pronunciation of Name:
Seiler = sigh-ler
Personal Pronouns:

I specialize in literature and cultures of Enlightenment and Romanticism—which I define as intertwined and ongoing processes of knowledge formation, and which I approach from a critical feminist perspective. My writing and digital curations are Transatlantic in scope, with particular emphases on big/bad data, weird medicine and bioethics, legal and political theory, and forms of violence and precarity. My first book, Un/Accountable Enlightenment, tells the history of the account as both the crucial method for biopolitical optimization—management of life—and ars politica of resistance to Enlightenment population control. I argue that the emergence of what we now call “big data” elevated accounting to the (still) dominant mode of reckoning, numeratively and narratively, politically and ethically, with vulnerable populations. Work from this project has taken shape in European Romantic Review, The Workshop, and talks at the Omohundro Institute-Folger Library sessions, IU Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies, MLA, NASSR, and ASECS conferences. 

As a postdoctoral fellow at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Literature, Media and Communication, I’m earning a certificate in Digital Humanities and Pedagogy for my research and nationally-recognized teaching in feminist literary histories of data, medicine, law and media. With the help of my undergraduate mentees, I’m building an online archive of media engagement with medicine and the law, 1600 - 1900, Juris Doctors. As a carry-over from my first book project on data and violence, this digital curio cabinet models an intersectional feminist language for metadata creation. I’m also completing a book manuscript that emerges out of this archive, The Law’s Spine.

My courses engage with vital questions impacting both Humanities and STEM fields, from contemporary issues in big data and bioethics, the media's role in shaping our understanding of forensics, law, and policing, to historical inquiries into data encyrption and gothic narrative, mens rea and Enlightenment theories of mind, the ethics of experimentation and romantic engineering. In my classes, students refine their attunement to how multimodal communication "acts" in the world and makings meaning through written, oral, visual, electronic and nonverbal forms. I help students develop their skills in close reading, archival research methods, and digital media crafting to enliven their exploration of historical and contemporary material, and in the creation of their own unique scholarship.

Twitter: @dr_sci_fi

  • Ph.D., with distinction, English & Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Awards and
  • F.C. Wood Institute Grant, College of Physicians of Philadelphia Medical Library & Mütter Museum
  • American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) Innovative Course Design Award
  • Omohundro Institute (for Early American History & Culture) - Folger Institute Joint Fellow, D.C.
  • Poetry@Tech Teaching & Research Grant, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • William Riley Parker Prize, Top Scholar in British Literature, Indiana University
  • Russell Noyes Award for Outstanding Work in Romanticism, Indiana University
  • Doctoral Fellow, IU Interdisciplinary Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Culbertson Teaching Award (x2), Indiana University
  • Awarded Top Distinctions in: Ph.D. Dissertation & Defense; Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Exams; Ph.D. Qualifying Prospectus & Defense
Areas of
  • Biopolitics & Bioethics
  • Critical Data Studies
  • Digital Humanities
  • Document Design & Digital Storytelling
  • Enlightenment & Romanticism
  • Feminist Methodologies
  • History Of Law & Legal Theory
  • History Of Science, Medicine & Technology
  • Literary Form & Formalism
  • Medical Humanities
  • Women Writers & Women


Research Fields:
  • Digital Humanities
  • Literary and Cultural Studies
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Bioethics, Bioscience, Biotechnology
  • Feminism
  • Literary Theory
  • Literature
  • Vulnerable Populations


  • ENGL-1101: English Composition I
  • ENGL-1102: English Composition II
  • ENGL-1102: English Composition II: Brutal Creativity: Maker's Romanticism
  • ENGL-1102: English Composition II: The Guilty Mind, 1660 - 1900
  • LMC-2699: Undergraduate Research: Cases of Medical Jurisprudence 1660-1850

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Internet Publications


Other Publications

Recent Publications

Internet Publications