Nancy Bentley received her Ph.D. from Harvard University where she specialized in 19th- and 20th-century American literature and culture. Her other research interests include law and literature, theory of the novel, African American studies, social theory, and cinema and media. Bentley is currently Chair of the Department of English.
She is the author of Frantic Panoramas: American Literature and Mass Culture 1870-1920 (U of Pennsylvania Press, 2009) and The Ethnography of Manners (Cambridge UP, 1995 and 2007). She also co-authored Volume 3 of the Cambridge History of American Literature and the Bedford Cultural Edition of Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition. Recent essays include “The Fourth Dimension: Kinlessness and African American Narrative” (Critical Inquiry 2007), and “Creole Kinship: Privacy, Politics, and the Novel in the New World,” in The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century American Literature (forthcoming).
Bentley is currently completing a book New World Kinship and the American Novel, 1850-1920, a study of the way the novel has mediated the multiple forms of kinship coexisting in the Americas. Her essays have appeared in such journals as Critical Inquiry, ALH, American Literature, ELH, NOVEL, and the Chicago-Kent Law Review. At present she serves on the editorial boards of PMLA, ALH and Nineteenth-Century Literature. She has received fellowships from Yale, Penn, Dartmouth, and Boston University, and in 2007 was awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.