Jim English is the Director of the Penn Humanities Forum. He received his MA from the University of Chicago and his PhD from Stanford, specializing in modern and contemporary British fiction. His book Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Community in Twentieth-Century Britain explored the political dimensions of joke-work in the British novel from Conrad and Woolf to Lessing and Rushdie. His more recent work has focused on the sociology of literature and especially on its institutional and transnational dimensions. The Economy of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value (Harvard UP) was named Best Academic Book of 2005 by New York Magazine. The Concise Companion to Contemporary British Fiction, a collection of essays about the scene and system of literary production in the UK, was published the following year by Blackwell.
His most recent book is The Global Future of English Studies, published by Blackwell in 2012 and due out in paperback later this year. It rethinks the prevailing narratives of contraction and decline that dominate histories of the discipline, stressing instead the discipline's expansion within a rapidly massifying global academic apparatus, and the new challenges and opportunities such sudden and dispersive growth presents. In progress is a book entitled Translated from the English, which maps a new geography of British culture along the institutional pathways of its exportation, translation, and transnational co-production, placing particular attention on struggles over the representation of race and class within the contemporary empire of anglophone culture. With Rita Felski he co-edited "New Sociologies of Literature," a special issue of NLH that appeared in 2011, to which he also contributed "Everywhere and Nowhere: The Sociology of Literature After 'the Sociology of Literature.'" He has recent or forthcoming essays in the Cambridge History of the English Novel, The Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, and A Handbook of Modernist Studies. From 1999 until 2004 he was editor or co-editor of Postmodern Culture, the first peer-reviewed all-electronic journal in the humanities, distributed by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Professor English has taught a range of courses in twentieth- and twenty-first century literature and culture, from general surveys of modernist and postmodernist literature to advanced seminars in globlization, critical theory, British cinema, and the audiobook. This semester he is teaching a class on the British novel since 1900.