I know we shouldn’t complain too much. It’s bad for digestion, and distracts from delight. But I have to grouse about the fare offered just down the hall. I happen to love Dickens, Dickinson, Hemingway, Eliot, Donne, and even the non-canon: Kerouac and W. E Sebald. I thought I knew where I could find a colleague to share my amateur’s appreciation. But clearly I was misinformed. I paused at the directory of colleagues, and their interests, sharply etched. This is what I could expect to chat about, were I to knock on one door or the next. English Lit ? I must have taken a wrong turn.
- Conceptual histories of the body, disease, imagination, subjectivity, melancholy, the occult, science, medicine, natural history, natural philosophy, and the literature of discovery and contact.
- Transnationalism, globalization, imperialism, and the history of the book.
- Historiography and historicism; gender studies; human/nonhuman animal studies; material, political, and print cultures; and public feelings.
- Interracial intimacies in Anglo-India, gender dissonance in Victorian fiction, female authority and medicine in 19th-century women’s first-person narrations, the emergence of the culture concept in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the tourist gaze in Victorian England.
- New media, interactive fiction and narrative, digital games, avant-garde film and video, television, temporality, spatiality, and code/software studies.
- Ethnic and minority studies, post-colonial and transnational studies.
nascent capitalism in the interregnum; race and colonialism in early modern drama; illiteracy and the early modern stage; and women and magic.
- Utopianism, Globalization, Primitive Accumulation, and the Politics of Space, Cultural Studies or Marxist methodology.
- Gender and Sexuality Studies, Queer Theory, Reception Studies.
I recently wrote a paper in which Thoreau figured as a weather-beaten, wind-twisted Bristlecone Pine, high in the Sierra, rather apophatic. I wanted to make sure I paid him proper respect, didn’t domesticate him too much, kept him austere, someone who could still teach ancient wisdom, a Diogenes or Socrates. But I suspect the folk down the hall are not even interested enough in him to housebreak him. He wrote literature, and that, I guess, is passe. Not him, and not Chaucer, not Shakespeare, not Melville, not Emerson, not Stevens.