Pasquale Toscano and fellow 2024 Jacobus Fellows discuss their research in Alumni Day video

Written by
Sarah Malone, Department of English
March 1, 2024

In celebration of Alumni Day 2024, Princeton University Advancement invited the four 2024 Jacobus Fellows to discuss their research in a video posted to the webpage covering the day's events.

Starting at 5:50 in the video (below), Jacobus Fellow and Department of English doctoral candidate Pasquale Toscano recounted, "Ten years ago, at a time when I thought my life as I knew it had ended, I discovered what I study now — Renaissance literature — and the experience of disability, in the same summer."

"He's interested in the way poetry itself may take on some of the knowledge that disabled bodies have," said Professor of English Jeff Dolven. "For instance, what would it mean for a poem to limp? To find for itself irregular rhythms and be able to say things that perhaps it couldn't say in a perfect iambic pentameter?

Noting John Milton going blind over a period of about eight years, Toscano said "I realized that he was my first disabled role model. I had no one who could talk to me about what it's like to experience radically changed embodiment."

"Disability theory is a tool of revelation. It's a tool for adjusting our perspectives on the past and on our great literary tradition," said Nigel Smith, the William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature. "He's very, very good at understanding where somebody doesn't understand yet."

Other video highlights featured on the Alumni page include the lectures “What We See and What We Value: AI With a Human Perspective” by Fei-Fei Li ’99, co-director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and recipient of the Wilson Award; “Wild Birds Are Canaries, and Our Planet Is the Coal Mine” by John Fitzpatrick *78, director emeritus of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and recipient of the Madison Medal; remarks by Pyne Prize winners Casey Beidel and Brian Sheng-Kai Li, members of the Class of 2024; and the Service of Remembrance honoring alumni, students, and members of the Princeton University faculty and staff whose deaths were recorded by the University in 2023.

The alumni honors and the student awards were covered in a University homepage article.