James Thompson


Greenlaw 531


My areas of interest are eighteenth-century studies and literary theory, and I conceive of my work as a kind of a historical sociology of culture-that is, I focus on the conditions of cultural exchange in the early modern period -- what would make potential readers susceptible and receptive to the kind of fiction we have come to call the novel? Most recently, I co-edited with Suzanne Pucci a volume of essays on novels and film, Jane Austen and Co.: Remaking the Past in Contemporary Culture (SUNY Press, 2003). At present I am at very beginning of a study of a modern histories of the novel. Instead of the usual critique, I want to ask instead why has Ian Watt's 1957 Rise of the Novel been so phenomenally successful and so persistent? What was it in his method that made that book exemplary literary history? I want to understand the Rise of the Novel as a historically specific legitimation exercise, a book that exemplified a kind of data and argument that fitted literary studies for the modern research university. On the back burner, I have plans for another collection of essays on early modern literature in the age of cultural studies for Tennessee Studies in English, and, more distantly, an anthology of shorter eighteenth-century fiction. 

Teaching Awards

Johnston Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2003 
AGES mentoring awards, 2008/2009



Hire Date: 1982

Ph. D., University of Florida, 1978
M.A., Johns Hopkins, 1975
B.A., Brandeis University, 1973

Research Groups and Interests

Group IV - English Literature from 1660 to 1789
Group IX - Critical Theory and Cultural Studies