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Nelson Shuchmacher Endebo



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History of Science
Literature and Anthropology
Comparative Poetics
17th century literature
Early Modern Iberian literature

Nelson Shuchmacher Endebo

I am a 2nd year Ph.D. student in the Department of Comparative Literature. My scholarly work revolves around three concepts that lie at the core of our discipline, namely, analogy, relation and perspective. From this, a preoccupation with the place of what one calls “literary language” within the process of formation and reception of philosophical and scientific concepts, and the sedimentation of worldviews. I think of Comparative Literature as a specialized branch of anthropology that has, therefore, valuable things to say about what culture is.
I explore these central concerns in two primary areas of research: the literary history of natural philosophy from the late Middle Ages into the Baroque, especially astronomy, optics and mechanics; and the contribution of the New World, especially of Brazil, to the history of ideas. Better said: I am interested in what the history of ideas looks like seen through the eyes of that which has no proper place in it. Methodologically, my work draws inspiration from conceptual history, critical semantics, contemporary anthropology and second-order cybernetics. 
My MA thesis, Grid and Infinity, examined the anthropological significance of GPS technology, articulating Hans Blumenberg’s late phenomenology with the thought of contemporary media theorists such as Sybille Krämer. There I considered the process of completion of the world-grid by astronautics as part of a millennia-old history of grid-making, a history of human attempts to domesticate space – and thus produce territories – and ward off contingency. The thesis was an occasion to form some preliminary hypotheses concerning the anthropological foundations of globalization in terms of the relationship between technology and consciousness, hypotheses I continue to develop in my PhD.
On that note, since I arrived at Stanford I have become increasingly drawn to the accounts found in the archives of the Portuguese, Spanish and Italian Jesuit missions to China, Japan and the Philippines; in particular, the first translations of Confucius into Latin, and the Jesuit use of Copernican astronomy for the purposes of evangelization in China. I am interested in understanding how these narratives stand alongside those depicting encounters with native Amerindian populations in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Projects currently underway include a long-form piece on the language of magnetism in Western Europe up to and around the publication of William Gilbert’s De Magnete (1600); a historical reassessment and interpretation of modernist Antropofagia vis-à-vis the Baroque foundations of the New World with the aid of current ethnography; and an essay on Vilém Flusser’s Vampyroteuthis Infernalis.
In Fall 2018 I am teaching Accelerated 1st Year Portuguese M-F 9:30-10:20. E-mail me if you have questions!
At Stanford I co-organize The Comparatist Colloquium, a student-run venue for intellectual exchange within the Comparative Literature department; I'm a former co-organizer of the reading group POEMS, a space for reading and listening to poetry, which is now run by four colleagues in the DLCL. In addition, I attend regularly the Poetics Workshop, as well as The Contemporary.


2017-present : PhD candidate, Comparative Literature, Stanford University
2017: M.A., Media Theory and Communication, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
2013: B.A., English and German Studies (summa cum laude), Portland State University
2012-13: DAAD scholarship recipient, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg


Other Information

I am a dedicated jazz, rock, funk and heavy metal music aficionado. You can see me running around campus wearing a Sun Ra t-shirt. Last but not least, I have a non-scholarly but lifelong interest in Jewish culture and thought.