Tag Archive for Pfister

Pfister Authors Book on Literary Surveyors

surveyorsJoel Pfister, the Olin Professor of English and American Studies and chair of the American Studies Department, is the author of Surveyors of Customs: American Literature as Cultural Analysis published by Oxford University Press, 2016.

Within his book, Pfister argues “that writers from Benjamin Franklin to Louise Erdrich are critical ‘surveyors’ of customs, culture, hegemony, capitalism’s emotional logic, and more. Literary surveyors have helped make possible—and can advance—cultural analysis.” While noting that cultural theory and history have influenced interpretations of literature, he asserts that, in fact, “literature can return the favor.”

The book raises many historical, but timely questions. “When and why did capitalism need to invest in the secular ‘soul-making’ business and what roles did literature play? What does literature teach about its relationship to establishing a personnel culture that moved beyond self-help incentive making and intensified Americans’ preoccupations with personal life to turn them into personnel? How did literature contribute to the reproduction of ‘classless’ class relations and what does this say about dress-down politics and class formation in our Second Gilded Age?” These surveyors wrote novels, stories, plays, poetry, essays, autobiography, journals and cultural criticism.

(article co-authored by Andrew Logan)



6 Faculty to be Appointed to Endowed Professorships

Rob Rosenthal, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, the John E. Andrus Professor of Sociology, announced that six faculty members are being appointed to endowed professorships, effective July 1. They include:

Anthony Braxton and Neely Bruce, professors of music, are being jointly awarded the John Spencer Camp Professorship of Music, established by a Wesleyan Trustee in 1929.

Jill Morawski, professor of psychology, professor of science in society, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, will become the Wilbur Fisk Osborne Professor. The Osborne Professorship was established with a gift from Wesleyan’s 1861 class valedictorian.

Laurie Nussdorfer, professor of history, professor of letters, is appointed to the William F. Armstrong Professorship, established in 1921 with a gift from Armstrong’s estate.

Joel Pfister, professor of English, professor of American studies, formerly Kenan Professor of the Humanities, is being recognized with the Olin Professorship, established in 1863 to fund a professorship of “rhetoric and English literature.”

Joe Siry, chair and professor of art history, will become the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of the Humanities (a position also held by Clark Maines). These professorships were established in 1976, with an endowment from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust.

Brief biographical sketches of all six recipients follow:

Pfister Invited to Teach American Literature in China

Joel Pfister

Joel Pfister, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities, chair of the English Department, is invited to serve as one of two American faculty members in the West-China Faculty Enhancement Program in American Studies.

The program, which will take place in July in Xi’an, China, is sponsored by the Ford Foundation and China Association for the Study of American Literature.

Pfister will present 10 intensive, two-hour lectures on American literature to faculty from universities in western China that have poor rural students. He’ll also conduct a seminar session on American studies pedagogy.

“The aim is to better equip these university teachers to teach American literature and American history within a wide-ranging and theoretically sophisticated American studies context,” Pfister says.

Duke’s Baucom Discusses Relationships Among War, Empire, Republicanism

Oct. 6, Duke University Professor of English Ian Baucom gave the first lecture in the English Department Lecture Series, titled "Reading a Letter: Republicanism, Empire, and the Archives of the Atlantic."

Baucom met with Wesleyan faculty and fellows on Oct. 7 to discuss his current book project, "The Disasters of War: On Inimical Life." Pictured at right is Matthew Garrett, assistant professor of English, who organized the event.