History of Literary Criticism

Bill Brown

Bill BrownIn the past, my research has focused on popular literary genres (e.g. science fiction, the Western), on recreational forms (baseball, kung fu), and on the ways that mass-cultural phenomena (from roller coasters to Kodak cameras) impress themselves on the literary imagination. Rather than assuming that historical contexts help to explain a particular literary text, I assume that literature provides access to an otherwise unrecuperable history. That is, I assume that the act of literary analysis (including formal analysis) can become an "historiographical operation" all its own.

James Chandler

James ChandlerMy research and teaching interests include the Romantic movement; the study of lyric poetry; the history of the novel; relations between politics and literature, history and criticism; the Scottish Enlightenment; modern Irish literature and culture; the sentimental mode; cinema studies; and the history of humanities disciplines.

Timothy Harrison

Timothy HarrisonI am interested in the relationship between language, history, and lived experience. My research and teaching focus on how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature intersects with practices of knowledge production ranging from the sciences to theology. Combining a historical focus on early modernity with the study of phenomenological philosophy, my work probes a range of verbal techniques for articulating (and perhaps inventing) modes of experience that resist comprehension.

Elizabeth Helsinger (emerita, teaching 2016-17)

Elizabeth HelsingerI have long been fascinated with the interplay between literature and the visual and material arts. My early work focused on art and social criticism of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Ruskin, Hazlitt, Baudelaire, Pater): on the aesthetic or social assumptions that writers on the arts helped to formulate and the art that shaped their and their readers' sensibilities. Reading became a central term, as I studied how these critics borrow from and in turn shape techniques of looking and of more literary reading and interpretation. I've also worked extensively on landscape as an especially interesting aspect of the shared literary and visual culture of the first half of the nineteenth century—and as the site of competing, often highly politicized constructions of Englishness.

W. J. T. Mitchell

W. T. J. MitchellI teach in both the English and the Art History departments and edit the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. I work particularly on the history and theories of media, visual art, and literature, from the eighteenth century to the present. My work explores the relations of visual and verbal representations in the culture and iconology (the study of images across the media).  In addition to publications resulting from my own research, under my editorship Critical Inquiry has published special issues on public art, psychoanalysis, pluralism, feminism, the sociology of literature, canons, race and identity, narrative, the politics of interpretation, postcolonial theory, and many other topics.

Benjamin Morgan

Benjamin MorganMy research and teaching focus on literature, science, and aesthetics in the Victorian period and early twentieth century. My particular areas of interest include nineteenth-century sciences of mind and emotion; aestheticism and decadence in a global context; and speculative and non-realist fiction, including gothic, science fiction, utopia, and romance. My approach to the period is oriented by critical traditions in aesthetic and affect theory, science studies, and the environmental humanities.

Michael Murrin (emeritus)

Professor MurrinMy contribution to the medieval and Tudor-Stuart periods is comparative. Since English really did not develop a free-standing tradition before the late sixteenth century, authors normally had to consider other language traditions when they composed their works. The action of Beowulf takes place in Denmark and modern Sweden; Chaucer drew his models from France and Italy; Malory translated mostly French romances; and Spenser and Milton for the long poem looked to Italy.

Zachary Samalin

My research and teaching are anchored in the literature and culture of the Victorian period, with a particular focus on the unique blend of social criticism, high art and mass entertainment that characterizes the Victorian novel. I am also fascinated by the ways in which major theoretical innovations of the 19th century, such as Marxism and psychoanalysis, have outlived their own historical moment and continue to influence critical discourse in the present, providing the contours for ongoing debates in literary, aesthetic and cultural theory.

Joshua Scodel

Joshua Scodel

My major field of research is sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literary history in relation to intellectual, cultural, and political history. Special interests include early modern English literature's engagements with classical and Renaissance continental literature and philosophy; Renaissance genre theory and practice; and literary criticism's relation to literary practice, ancient to early modern.

 

David Carroll Simon

David Simon

I teach and write about the literary and intellectual history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, often in connection with continental (especially French) cultural phenomena. I am writing a book about the intimacy of literature and science in this period, which explores the shared interest of natural philosophers and poets in the epistemological and ethical consequences of carelessness and other forms of casual indifference. By describing experiences of minimal feeling that are neither repressive nor illusory, neither achievements of self-discipline nor self-serving fabrications, the protagonists of my project disclose an unfamiliar conception of scientific dispassion. For Boyle, Marvell, Milton, and others, “nonchalance” intensifies receptivity and draws out the world’s hidden properties.

 

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