Matthew Lavin

  • Clinical Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Digital Media Lab

Lavin’s scholarship focuses on points of contact between book history and digital humanities, especially the use of quantitative and computational methods to revisit core research questions of late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century American literature and culture. His interests include book history and technology, copyright, digital pedagogy, the history of authorship, digital-first and non-traditional scholarly publication, open access and open data, and turn-of-the-century U.S. literature. 

Lavin completed a PhD in English at the University of Iowa in 2012; a master's degree in American studies at Utah State University in 2006; and a bachelor's degree at St. Lawrence University in 2002. From 2012 to 2013, Lavin was a Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. From 2013 to 2015, he was Associate Program Coordinator of a Mellon-funded digital humanities initiative at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY titled “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities for the 21st Century.”

In conjunction with his doctoral work on turn-of-the-century American authorship, Lavin received the Lilly Library's Everett Helm Fellowship in 2010 and the University of Iowa's Frederick F. Seely Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship for Teaching and Research in 2011. In 2018, with Aaron Brenner, and Tyrica Terry Kapral, Lavin was awarded a “Collections as Data” grant (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) for their implementation “From Collection Records to Data Layers: A Critical Experiment in Collaborative Practice.” In 2017, with co-PI’s Matt Burton (Pitt), Jessica Otis (CMU), and Scott Weingart (CMU), he was awarded an 18-month grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for “Digits: a Platform to Facilitate the Production of Digital Scholarship.” 

Lavin’s scholarship has appeared in or is forthcoming from Auto|Biography Studies,Cather Studies 9: Willa Cather and Modern Cultures,Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, Literary and Linguistic Computing,The Programming Historian,Studies in the Novel,and Western American Literature.He maintains a collection of links and metadata for open data relevant to humanities scholarship ( to help increase the overall number of digital pathways to humanities data, and to make it easier to search for data by its relevance to specific subfields.

Lavin’s book-in progress, Landscapes of Distinction(working title), combines cultural analytics methods with bibliographical analysis and close reading strategies as a means to revisit a widely debated subject in the history of the book: the construction of cultural hierarchy in the United States. It focuses on the role that prominent magazines and newspapers played in the construction of cultural hierarchies for books and reading in the United States between 1880 and 1925. The book argues that periodicals mediated cultural hierarchies more subtly and comprehensively than prior work has acknowledged, and that cultural analytics methods allow us to see these mediations more clearly.