Literary History

David Bevington (emeritus, teaching 2016-17)

Professor BevingtonIt is my pleasure and my honor to teach drama at the University of Chicago, focusing on Shakespeare and his contemporaries (Jonson, Marlowe, Webster, Middleton, Dekker, etc.), as well as medieval drama and then the entire sweep of Western drama from Aeschylus and Sophocles down to Caryl Churchill and Tom Stoppard. In addition to courses on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and medieval drama, I co-teach in Theater and Performance Studies ((variously with Heidi Coleman, Director of University Theater, John Muse, English Department, and Drew Dir, resident dramaturg at Court Theatre) a two-quarter sequence called The History and Theory of Drama from the 5th century B.C. down to the present day.

Timothy Campbell

Timothy CampbellMy research focuses upon the connections between the literature of eighteenth-century and Romantic Britain and the visual-cultural and consumer-material practices that shaped this literature’s new and enduring forms. I have broad interests in the history and theory of fashion, in visual and material cultural studies, in problems of historical method in literary studies, and in the forms of historiographical writing. My recent work has addressed subjects ranging from the history of the fashion plate to Romantic antiquarianism, and from the fashionable, eighteenth-century portraiture of Sir Joshua Reynolds to the present-day conceptual dress art of Christian Boltanski.

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.

Alexis Chema

My scholarship focuses on the literature and aesthetic traditions of the long Romantic period. I am especially interested in teaching and thinking about sensibility and its poetic styles, theories and representations of emotion, literary reception, moral sense philosophy, and visual culture. These areas of inquiry come together for me around the larger question of how Romantic poems create figures for considering the intelligibility of extended collective belonging in the face of an increasingly abstract—spatially diffuse, technologically mediated—social world.

Rachel Galvin


I specialize in twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry and poetics in English, Spanish, and French. My primary research interests include comparative poetics, U.S. Latino/a poetry, poetry of the Americas, Hemispheric Studies, poetics and politics, literature and war, comparative modernism, multilingual poetics, Oulipo and formal constraint, and translation.

Edgar Garcia

I teach, research, and write about hemispheric literatures and cultures of the Americas, principally of the twentieth century. My inquiries have mostly taken place in the fields of indigenous and Latino studies, American literature, poetry and poetics, and environmental criticism, with the following questions focusing my work: How is it that conceptions of difference mediated by literary form(s) create feelings of belonging outside of national paradigms, particularly in kinship networks of race and ethnicity? And how do these values (values of what my colleague at Chicago Marshall Sahlins has sharply termed "cosmographies of difference") shape contestations for power?

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.

Janice Knight

Janice KnightMy research and teaching interests are localized with respect to historical period-Early American Cultures-but broad with respect to interest in discourses, peoples and cultures of the colonial period, and with respect to scholarly method. My current research focuses on what might be called the "culture of religious emotion" in the context of women's experience in Early America. I am interested in reflecting on expressions of spiritual ecstasy, melancholy, hauntedness, and possession as they are embodied and contained within such conventional genres as narratives of conversion, captivity, revelation, and spiritual disease.

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.

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