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Amy Kaplan

Edward W. Kane Professor of English

Working in the interdisciplinary field of American studies, Amy Kaplan focused in her teaching and scholarship on the culture of imperialism, comparative perspectives on the Americas, prison writing, the American novel, and mourning, memory, and war.

A past president of the American Studies Association, Kaplan received her Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University, with a specialty in late-nineteenth-century American literature. Her first book was The Social Construction of American Realism (U Chicago P, 1988). She co-edited, with Donald Pease, Cultures of U. S. Imperialism (Duke, 1993). In The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Harvard UP, 2002) Kaplan showed how imperial expansion abroad—from the US-Mexico War of 1848 to the First World War—profoundly shaped key elements of American culture at home. She received an NEH Fellowship and the Norman Forster prize for the best essay in American Literature in 1998 for "Manifest Domesticity." In 2011-12 she was a fellow at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study.

A wide-ranging critic of contemporary American culture and policy, Kaplan published essays on the place of Guantanamo Bay in American history, the discourse of “homeland security” in response to 9/11, analogies between the American and Roman Empires, academic life in Palestine in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, as well as articles on Mark Twain and Herman Melville. Her final book, Our American Israel: The Story of an Entangled Alliance, was published by Harvard UP in 2018. Amy Kaplan died on July 30, 2020.



Doctoral Dissertations Chaired


Alex Eisenthal "Non-Native Grounds: Jewish Writers in American Empire"


Thomas Alan Dichter "Violent Convictions: Punishment, Literature, and the Reconstruction of Race "
Emma Stapely "Insurgent Remains: Afterlives of the American Revolution,1770-1820 "


Phillip Maciak "Technologies of Belief: Christian Visions of U.S. Secularism, 1880-1930."


William Nessly "Rewriting the Rising Sun: Narrative Authority and Japanese Empire in Asian American Literature"
Jill Shashaty "As If: Utopian Desire and the Imagination of History in Nineteenth-Century America"


Rachael Nichols "The Human Animal: Tangles in Science and Literature , 1870-1920"
Emily Ogden "The Science of Error: Mesmerism and American Fiction, 1784–1890"


Jeffrey Edwards "Privileged Sensibilities: Conjectural Histories of Race in the Early American Republic"

Courses Taught

fall 2019

ENGL 266.301 Topics Law and Literature canceled  
ENGL 783.301 Major American Author canceled  

spring 2019

ENGL 102.401 Vietnam War in Literature and Film canceled  
ENGL 592.301 Prison Writing in the USA canceled  

spring 2018

fall 2017

spring 2016

ENGL 800.301 Pedagogy  

spring 2015

ENGL 783.301 Transnational Melville  

fall 2012

ENGL 800.301 Pedagogy  

spring 2011

ENGL 800.301 Pedagogy  

fall 2010

ENGL 089.001 The American Novel  

spring 2010

ENGL 363.301 American Prison Writing  
ENGL 758.301 19th Century US Imperialism  

fall 2009

ENGL 102.001 War and Literature  

spring 2009

ENGL 799.301 Transnational Melville  

fall 2008

ENGL 102.001 War and Literature  

spring 2007

fall 2006

ENGL 263.301 War and Memory  

spring 2006

fall 2005

ENGL 363.301 War and Memory  
ENGL 800.301 Pedagogy  

spring 2005

ENGL 799.301 Violence, Mourning, Memory  

spring 2004

spring 2003

ENGL 289.301 Mourning and Memory  

fall 2002