Twentieth-Century American Literature

Lauren Berlant

My work has focused on the affective components of belonging in the U.S. nineteenth and twentieth centuries—now the twenty-first: in particular, in relation to juridical citizenship, to informal and normative modes of social belonging, and to practices of intimacy as they absorb legal, normative, and fantasmatic forces. These scenes of relation articulate state, juridical, and institutional practices of zoning and more abstract boundary-drawing—between public and private, white and non-white, and/or citizen and foreigner—with other kinds of social bonds through which people imagine and practice world-making.

Adrienne Brown

Adrienne BrownI specialize in American and African-American cultural production in the 20th century. I am currently exploring the influence of architecture and urban planning on literary form alongside the ways that narrative intervenes in our historical and experiential understandings of space. My work also considers a range of objects beyond the literary, considering the ways TV shows hear, journalists see, and class may be felt, and analyzing race's sonic and spatial dimensions. 

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.

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?

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.

Patrick Jagoda

Patrick JagodaBroadly speaking, I work in the fields of new media studies and twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture. Within these areas, my teaching and research focus on digital games, electronic literature, virtual worlds, television, cinema, the novel, and media theory.

James Lastra

James LastraI specialize in American film and have published extensively on sound in film, especially as it relates to the unfolding history of modernity and the aesthetics of both high and vernacular modernisms. Other sound interests include the material history of human sensory experience and how it conditions the emergence and normalization of representational technologies. My latest sound research deals with theories of asynchronous sound in film and with the Wagnerian aesthetics of modern sound design in American film. I have specific research interests in Surrealism both in Europe and in the United States, silent film comedy, American experimental film, and the films and writing of Luis Buñuel. Like most of the members of Cinema and Media Studies, I approach the American cinema as part of a global system of cultural production and exchange.

John Muse

My research and teaching focus on modern and contemporary theater, modernist literature, and performance. I’m particularly interested in work that tests the boundaries of a given medium or the borders between media: plays that approach visual art, poems performed on stage, closet dramas, novels in dramatic form, metatheater and metafiction, and digital or otherwise virtual theater.

Deborah Nelson

Deborah NelsonMy field is late twentieth-century U.S. culture and politics, what is known in shorthand as Post45 or Post War (to the confusion of many: which war?). I also am a founding member of the Post45 collective, which publishes an online journal Post45 and a book series at Stanford University Press. My interests in the field include American poetry, novels, essays, and plays; gender and sexuality studies; photography; autobiography and confessional writing; American ethnic literature; poetry and poetics; and Cold War history. 

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