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 in 2012 in the Blackwell Manifesto series It rethinks the prevailing narratives of contraction and decline that dominate histories of the discipline, stressing instead the discipline's expansion within a rapidly massivying global academic apparatus, and the new challenges and opportunities such sudden and dispersive growth presnets. A book in progress, Translated from the English, maps a new geography of British culture along the institutional pathways of its exportation, translation, and transnational coproduction. Another book in progress offers a brief history of attempts to quantify aesthetic value. A digital side project attempts to express the field of contemporary Anglophone fiction by means of "small data" and quantitative relationships. Results of this research will be presented at a conference on "Scale and Value: New Digital Approaches to Literary History" and published in a special issue of MLQ, both of which Jim is co-organizing with Ted Underwood.
Other recent projects include a special issue of NLH on the "New Sociologies of Literature," co-edited with Rita Felski (2010) and essays for a collection on the sociology of festivals (2011) and for a new volume of the Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture (2013). An essay on satiric form in 20C English fiction appeared in the Cambridge History of the English Novel (2012), edited by Robert Caserio. An essay, "Cultural Capital and the Revolutions of Literary Modernity" is included in the Handbook of Modernism Studies (2013). Two short essays appeared in an LARB symposium on distant reading and an Exemplaria symposium on Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve. A roundtable Jim organized for MLA 2014, "What is Data in Literary Studies?" has bee published as a Colloquy in Arcade.
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 graduate seminar, "Empirical Method in Literary Studies."
last updated 2014/10/01