Professor Elliott Visconsi is Notre Dame’s Chief Academic Digital Officer in the Provost’s Office, a role he has held since 2013. A scholar of early modern English literature, freedom of expression, and First Amendment law, Visconsi has been at Notre Dame since 2010 (B.A. 1995 College of the Holy Cross, Ph.D. 2001 UCLA; M.S.L. Yale Law School, 2010).
In his capacity as CADO, Elliott works at the nexus of university strategy, fundraising, faculty development, curriculum policy, intellectual property, financial modeling, and pedagogy on a variety of University-wide programs and initiatives. Under his leadership, Notre Dame created the Office of Digital Learning, launched a high-quality fully-online series of summer courses for Notre Dame students, designed from scratch a cutting-edge multi-departmental graduate data science degree in collaboration with AT&T, and instituted a series of ongoing inter-institutional collaborations with several colleges and Universities in the US and abroad. Elliott Visconsi is committed especially to discovering the collaborative possibilities of digital learning and promoting student-centered pedagogy. He is also a committed advocate for liberal education and a believer in the transformative potential of the undergraduate experience. Visconsi has convened a summit of higher education leaders to explore the landscape ahead: The Future of Liberal Education in the Digital Age will be held at Notre Dame on October 28, 2016. He consults for other colleges and universities on digital strategy, policy, and curriculum planning for the digital age.
Recognizing that media-rich interactive software could lower the entry cost of reading Shakespeare and other challenging works, in 2011 Visconsi designed a software system for teaching and learning on mobile devices with the support of Notre Dame’s Office of Research. This software was the genesis of a startup company, Luminary Digital Media, which he co-founded with Katherine Rowe (Provost of Smith College). Luminary publishes enhanced reading and study applications for the iPad, Kindle, and other formats. To date, Luminary has published eight (8) titles, chiefly in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library and Simon & Schuster. They are The Tempest for iPad, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, Macbeth, Richard III, and Julius Caesar. Luminary’s product has received wide acclaim, including credit from Times Literary Supplement for creating a “new form of Shakespearean commentary.” Patents are pending for the software. Chair of Luminary’s Board of Directors, Elliott has been involved in all aspects of the startup process, including fundraising, intellectual property, patents, technology licensing, business development, contract negotiations, product design and architecture. In the domain of software, he has a particular affinity for product architecture and user experience design.
Elliott’s scholarly work is located at the nexus of literature, law, and political thought; he teaches and writes across a wide historical spectrum although the persistent aim of his work is to understand how law is constituted and negotiated within culture as well as how literary texts provoke and challenge those habits of thought necessary for judgment, citizenship, and belonging. One expression of that focus is his popular Intro to the First Amendment lecture course at Notre Dame, a shorter version of which will soon be released on the edX platform as A First Amendment Toolkit. He tries to build a student-centered pedagogy in all of his classes, and has experimented with class formats (lecture, seminar, online, hybrid), alternative assignments (role-playing games, moot court, team competitions) and new tools to build student ownership.
Currently Elliott is finishing his second traditional scholarly book “The Struggle for Civil Religion: Church and State in the Seventeenth Century English World,” which a study of the rise of a recognizable "civil religion"—a set of secular habits, rituals, professions, and practices of collective religiosity indexed to the historical self-understanding of the nation—in later seventeenth century England. Some of the key topics in this study include the rise of blasphemy law, toleration and corporate sovereignty in 17th century Bombay, race war in Massachusetts Bay. The implications of the book reach forward into contemporary First Amendment church-and-state jurisprudence. You can read some of the early manifestations of this project in Representations, Raritan, and in other venues. His first book Lines of Equity: Literature and the Origins of Law in Later Stuart England was published by Cornell Univ. Press in 2008. His ELH article on Oroonoko, written while a Ph.D student at UCLA, is still one of his favorites. He’s also written about allegiance in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers and blasphemy law, and a wide variety of literature and law topics in the early modern period. Elliott has won distinguished fellowships, including a ACLS Fellowship and a Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship. Visconsi is also the co-founder (with Professor Patrick Griffin) and director of the “Global Dome” London-based Summer PhD Accelerator Seminar in the Humanities.
Beyond all this serious business, Elliott is often in the UK where he has been known to admit to being a passionate supporter of Aston Villa FC (don’t ask). He especially fond of artisanal cheeses and cured meats, the Isle of Mull, Indian food, hiking and skiing and things of that nature. Unwisely he follows the Cleveland sports teams. He lives in South Bend Indiana with his wife Maura, a second grade teacher, and three kids.