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S. Pearl Brilmyer

Associate Professor of English

Curriculum Vitae

Fisher-Bennett Hall 218
Kings College London 218

Office Hours

fall 2024

on leave 2024-2025

S. Pearl Brilmyer's work lies at the intersection of the history of philosophy, science, and literature with a focus on the nineteenth-century English novel. Other areas of research include theories of will and drive in nineteenth-century German philosophy and science (Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Freud, Reich), the history of sexuality, and materialisms old and new.

Prior to joining the faculty at Penn, Brilmyer was assistant professor at The University of Oregon and adjunct instructor at New York University, Pratt Institute, and the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry, the DAAD (German Exchange Service), the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Wolf Humanities Center, and the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women Faculty Research. 

Her book The Science of Character: Human Objecthood and the Ends of Victorian Realism (Chicago, 2022) develops a literary-theoretical approach to the history of science, advancing a theory of late Victorian realism as a “science of character” committed to understanding what brings characters—literary and natural historical, human and nonhuman—into existence. The Science of Character was the 2022 winner of the Sonya Rudikoff Award for the best first book in Victorian Studies. Brilmyer has also co-edited two special issues, one with Filippo Trentin and Zairong Xiang in GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies on "The Ontology of the Couple," and another with Filippo Trentin in the journal Psychoanalysis & History on Lou Andreas-Salomé's 1916 essay, "'Anal' and 'Sexual'" featuring the first English translation of that essay. 

She is currently working on a second book project, Queer Rigidity, on the tendency of desire to crystallize into patterns and follow well-worn paths (under contract with Duke UP). An article from this project is forthcoming in Critical Inquiry. Other articles have been published in PMLA, Representations, Criticism, and Victorian Studies, among other venues.

Brilmyer is also a core faculty member in the Program for Gender, Sexuality & Women's studies and the Program in Comparative Literature & Literary Theory.


Articles and Book Chapters

"Deconstruction (on Leo Bersani)" A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies (2023)
"Introduction: The Genesis of 'Anal and Sexual'" special issue on "Lou Andreas-Salomé's 'Anal and Sexual.' With Filippo Trentin. Psychoanalysis & History (2022)
"Translation of 'Anal and Sexual' by Lou Andreas-Salomé" With Filippo Trentin, Nina Hausmann, Matt ffytche and Melanie Adley, trans. Psychoanalysis & History (2022)
"Introduction" to the special issue "The Ontology of the Couple." With Filippo Trentin and Zairong Xiang. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2019)
"The Ontology of the Couple; or What Queer Theory Knows about Numbers" with Filippo Trentin and Zairong Xiang. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2019)
"Darwinian Feminisms" Gender: Matter (2017)
"Schopenhauer and British Literary Feminism" The Palgrave Schopenhauer Handbook (2017)

Courses Taught

spring 2023

ENGL 0160.401 Introduction to Queer Theory  
ENGL 0333.401 Queer History and Theory  

fall 2022

ENGL 7052.401 Form, Figure, Metaphor  

summer 2022

ENGL 1300.950 Sex and Society  

spring 2022

fall 2021

ENGL 016.302 Science and Sexuality  
ENGL 051.001 What is Life?  

spring 2021

ENGL 016.301 Queer History and Theory  
ENGL 800.301 Pedagogy  

fall 2020

ENGL 560.401 Queer Studies canceled  

spring 2020

ENGL 108.001 Literature and Science  
ENGL 560.401 What is a Subject?  

fall 2019

ENGL 094.401 Intro to Literary Theory  
ENGL 601.401 History Literature Theory  

spring 2018

ENGL 560.301 Victorian Materialism  

fall 2017

ENGL 311.301 English Honors Program  

spring 2017

ENGL 290.401 Queer Attachments  

fall 2016