Joel Gabriel Kempff

Joel Kempff


Areas of Interest:   Transatlantic Romanticism; History and Philosophy of Science; Ecocriticism; Criticism and Theory: Creative Writing.


Education: B.A. University of Montana (Double Major in English Literature & Creative Writing; History minor).



Joel Gabriel Kempff is a PhD student in the University of Notre Dame’s English Department. He is a graduate minor in the History and Philosophy of Science, as well as an Editorial Assistant for the Notre Dame Review. Joel is the recipient of Notre Dame’s Dean’s Fellowship, 2017. His work focuses primarily on science in transatlantic literature.

Over the past few decades, systems-oriented views of the world have proliferated in the sciences and humanities.  Attention to complexity, networks, and other organizational patterns are now emphasized in everything from politics and economics to biology and physics.  Joel’s work starts from an assumption that such systems-oriented conceptions are not simply represented in literature but also arise from it. Starting from 1783—the year in which the American Revolutionary War ended; natural disasters in Iceland and Italy rocked the European climate, causing widespread famine and killing tens of thousands; the first manned hot-air balloon flights took place; and James Watt produced a working and commercially viable steam engine, to list a few events—Joel explores literature for increasing representations of highly complex human and nonhuman systems. He believes that Romanticism, in particular, is a response to the emergence of such complicated, unquantifiable, and entangled systems as realities of the human experience.

As a former professional journalist Joel is extremely interested in the public humanities and the accessibility of responsible scholarship to all people.  His work is interested in utilizing various medias which are not always typical to English literary studies, such as websites, podcasts, and even music.


Publications & Conferences:

  • “A Creature of the Blockchain: The Case for Distributed Identity in Frankenstein.” Why Frankenstein Matters at 200: Rethinking the Human through the Arts and Sciences, Rome, Italy, July 4-6, 2018.
  • “The Responsive Heart: Distributed Identity in Helen Maria Williams’ Peru.” 2018 English Department Graduate Research Symposium, University of Notre Dame, April 5-6, 2018.
  • “‘Knowledge so Sparingly Conferred’: Charles Brockden Brown’s Hobbesian Skepticism”; American Literature before 1865, University of Notre Dame, December 2017.
  • “Impact: Reading De Rerum Natura in the Rain,” The Oval: Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 31 (2015): 89.  Available at:
  • “Velociraptors at Midnight,” The Oval: Vol. 7: Iss. 1, Article 20 (2014): 34 - 45.  Available at:


Awards & Honors:

  • Dean’s Fellowship, University of Notre Dame, 2017.
  • Maurice & Marion Volkman Scholarship for Literature, University of Montana, 2016-2017.
  • Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Inductee, 2016.
  • Opus Scholarship for Creative Writing, University of Montana, 2015-2016.
  • Maureen Mansfield Scholarship, University of Montana, 2015-2016.
  • Heisey Foundation Scholarship, University of Montana, 2014-2015.
  • Society of Professional Journalists, 2nd Place, Feature Photojournalism, (Western-Washington Pro Chapter: Excellence in Journalism, 2007).
  • Associated Press, 1st Place, Breaking News, (Oregon AP Broadcasters, Division II, 2005).