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U.Va. Graduate Student Research:
Addressing Real World Issues

Jim Cocola

Jim Cocola, Ph.D. candidate in English, is fascinated by the concept of “place.” His decision to attend the University of Virginia was influenced by this interest. “The institution itself stands among the most important cornerstones of higher education in the United States,” he says. In addition, he was attracted by the rich history surrounding the University. “Charlottesville is a highly appealing place for many reasons, and as a student of American literature and culture I have profited greatly from exposure to a region that I was relatively unfamiliar with.”

Cocola coined the term “topopoiesis,” which he refers to as “the imaginative making of place.” His dissertation addresses topopoiesis within the context of twentieth century American poetry. His interest is in poets who have ventured beyond nature poetry to promote place as a more dynamic notion—capable of inspiring emotion and an awareness of social and environmental justice. As a part of Cocola’s exploration of topopoiesis, he created a hypertext essay focused on the architecture of U.Va.’s Academical Village in comparison to Jefferson’s political philosophy. The essay, funded through the William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund of the Academical Village, also evaluates how Jefferson’s successors have either held to or deviated from his original vision.

Cocola credits the English department with encouraging his interdisciplinary pursuits and supporting academic freedom. “I have honed a certain flexibility of mind thanks to the protean English Department, which must number among the largest and most methodologically heterogeneous to be found anywhere,” he says.

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Jim Cocola
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Last Modified: Wednesday, 15-Apr-2009 10:20:06 EDT
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