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James English

John Welsh Centennial Professor of English and Director of the Penn Humanities Forum

Fisher-Bennett Hall 311

Office Hours

fall 2015

Tues 2:30-4:00

Or by appointment

Jim English is the Director of the Penn Humanities Forum and founding director of the Digital 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.  An ongoing digital 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 and 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). Three short essays appeared in an LARB symposium on distant reading, an Exemplaria symposium on Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve, and a Representations response cluster on Eric Bulson's "Ulysses by the Numbers" (2014).  A roundtable Jim organized for MLA 2014, "What is Data in Literary Studies?" has been 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.  Last semester he taught a graduate seminar, "Empirical Method in Literary Studies."  He is currently teaching an introduction to the British cinema.  His website describes his teaching, research, and professional activities in greater detail.


Courses Taught

spring 2016

ENGL 265.301 Novels and Novelists Now cancelled  

spring 2015

ENGL 295.402 British Cinema  

fall 2014

spring 2013

ENGL 065.001 British Novel Since 1900  

fall 2012

ENGL 295.401 British Cinema  

spring 2012

ENGL 065.001 20th Century Novel  

fall 2011

ENGL 065.401 20th Century British Fiction cancelled  

spring 2011

fall 2010

ENGL 016.401 British Cinema  
ENGL 059.401 Modernisms and Mondernities cancelled  

spring 2010

fall 2009

spring 2007

ENGL 801.301 Pedagogy  

fall 2006

spring 2005

ENGL 311.302 The Honors Essay  

fall 2004

spring 2003

ENGL 065.001 20th Century British Novel  
ENGL 261.401 Contemporary British Cinema  

fall 2002

ENGL 774.301 Globalization  

spring 2002

ENGL 104.401 The Twentieth Century  
ENGL 261.401 Contemporary British Cinema  

fall 2001

ENGL 800.301 Teaching of Literature  

spring 2001

fall 2000

spring 1999

fall 1998

spring 1997

ENGL 571.401 Marx to Bourdieu  

fall 1995

spring 1995

ENGL 001.001 Independent Study  
ENGL 104.001 The Twentieth Century  
ENGL 309.301 Junior Honors Seminar  

fall 1988

ENGL 095.800 Romantics and Modernists  

Doctoral Dissertation Advisees


Melanie Micir "Public Lives, Intimate Archives: Queer Biographical Practices in British Women's Writing"


Mearah Quinn-Brauner ""Recovering the Conflicts: Memoirs of the Late-Twentieth Century American Literary Academy""


John Connor "Mid-Century Romance: Modernist Afterlives of the Historical Novel"
Greg Steirer "‘Raise the Black Flag’: The Neoliberal Aesthetic in 1970s Britain"


Anna Ivy "From Princeton to Paradise: Women's Reading in Academic and Popular Culture"


Laura Heffernan "'Bad Form': Modernist Criticism and the Cultural Life of the Aesthetic, 1909-1929"
Matthew Merlino "The Contemporary Historical Novel and the Unsettling of America"
Matthew Ruben "Cultural, Political, and Spatial Transformation in the Late Twentieth Century United States"
Nancy Srebro "Adjusting the Focus: The Modern British Novel and the Rise of American Film"


Jeffrey Dillon Brown "Occidental Drift: London, Modernism and the Politics of Form in Early West Indian Fiction"


Sue Sun Yom "Sex And The American Soldier: Military Cinema and the War on Venereal Disease, 1918-1969"


Jonna Mackin "Subject to Laughter: Comedy and Ethnicity in Contemporary American Fiction"


Giselle Anatol "Mother Countries, Motherlands, and Mother Love: Representations of Motherhood in 20th-Century Caribbean Women's Literature"


Sam Choi "Machines of Metaphor: Myths and Materials of Computer Culture"
Rhonda Frederick "The Colon People: Reading Caribbeanness through the Panama Canal"
Geoffrey Sharpless "The Erotics of Culture: Masculinity and the Victorian Public School"