Speaker Information


A. S. Byatt is internationally renowned for her novels and short stories. Formerly Senior Lecturer in English at University College, London, she has been a full-time writer since 1983. Her novels include Possession: A Romance (1990), winner of the Man Booker Prize and the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize, The Biographer’s Tale (2000), The Children’s Book (2009), and the quartet The Virgin in the GardenStill LifeBabel Tower, and A Whistling Woman. Her most recent novel, Ragnarok: The End of the Gods, was published in 2011. Her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse StoriesThe Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, Elementals, and Little Black Book of Stories. A distinguished critic as well as a writer of fiction, Byatt’s writings have appeared in the journal Prospect, The Guardian, The Times, and the Times Literary Supplement. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999.

Tom McCarthy is a writer and artist whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, Remainder, which deals with questions of trauma and repetition, won the 2008 Believer Book Award and is currently being adapted for cinema by FilmFour Films. In an essay in The New York Review of Books entitled ”Two Paths for the Novel”, Zadie Smith called Remainder “one of the great English novels of the last ten years.” His second novel, Men in Space, set in a Central Europe rapidly disintegrating after the collapse of communism, was published in 2007. His most recent work, C, explores the relationship between melancholia, violence and emergent technological media, and was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize. McCarthy is also author of the 2006 non-fiction book Tintin and the Secret of Literature, an exploration of the themes and patterns of Hergé’s comic books, and of numerous essays that have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, London Review of Books, Harper’s and Artforum. In addition, he is founder and General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network of writers, philosophers and artists. Their work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Tate Britain and Moderna Museet Stockholm. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction by Yale University.


Fredric Jameson is William A. Lane, Jr., Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of Romance Studies (French) at Duke University. Professor Jameson received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1959 and taught at Harvard, Yale, and the University of California before coming to Duke in 1985. He is the author of Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991, awarded the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize), Seeds of Time (1994), Brecht and Method (1998), The Cultural Turn (1998), and A Singular Modernity (2002). His recent works include Archaeologies of the Future (2005) and The Modernist Papers (2007). His most frequently taught courses cover modernism, Third World literature and cinema, Marx & Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, the modern French novel and cinema, and the Frankfurt School. Among Professor Jameson’s ongoing concerns is the need to analyze literature as an encoding of political and social imperatives, and the interpretation of modernist and postmodernist assumptions through a rethinking of Marxist methodology. He received the 2008 Holberg Prize for his scholarship.

Isobel Armstrong is Emeritus Professor of English (Geoffrey Tillotson Chair) at Birkbeck, University of London; Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of English Studies; and a Fellow of the British Academy. Over the last few years she has taught at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf School of English, and Johns Hopkins University. Her most recent book, Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830-1880 (2008) won the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize. Her interests encompass critical and aesthetic theory, feminist writing, and nineteenth-century literature. She is also the author of The Radical Aesthetic (2000) and edited the Oxford Anthology of Nineteenth-Century Women’s Poetry (1993). She is currently revising Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics (1993) for a new edition and working on several projects, a book on the nineteenth-century novel and the democratic imagination, and a reading diary of a group of love poems. Some of her poetry appeared in Shearsman’s anthology of poetry by women, Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by U.K. Women Poets (2010).

Nicholas Dames is Theodore Kahan Professor of Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is a specialist in the novel, with particular attention to the novel of the nineteenth century in Britain and on the European continent; his interests also include novel theory, the history of reading, and the aesthetics of prose fiction from the seventeenth century to the present.  He is the author of Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870 (2001), which was awarded the Sonya Rudikoff Prize by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association; and The Physiology of the Novel: Reading, Neural Science, and the Form of Victorian Fiction (2007).  His articles have appeared in The Henry James Review, Representations, Novel, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Narrative, Victorian Studies, n+1, and Public Books, as well as edited volumes such as Blackwell’s Companion to the Victorian Novel, Oxford’s Encyclopedia of British Literature, Cambridge’s History of Literary Criticism, the Cambridge Companion to English Novelists, and the Blackwell Companion to Jane Austen.  He has been a recipient of Columbia’s Presidential Teaching Award (2005), a Charles Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2005-6), the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award (2008), and the Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching (2013).  In 2009 he served as Chair of the MLA’s Executive Division on Prose Fiction.  He is a founding member and on the Executive Board of the Society for Novel Studies (SNS), and along with Prof. Susan Pedersen of the History Department he co-runs British Studies at Columbia.  His current project is a history of the chapter, from the textual cultures of late antiquity, particularly the editorial and scribal practices of early Christianity, to the modern novel.

Simon During is Professor in the Centre for the History of European Discourses at the The University of Queensland, Australia. For many years he taught at the University of Melbourne, where, as Robert Wallace Chair and Head of Department, he helped establish the Media and Communications, Cultural Studies, and Publishing programs. Between 2002 and 2010 was Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University, where he also served as Director of the Film and Media Programme. He has held fellowships and visiting positions at Berkeley and Princeton and elsewhere. His books include Foucault and Literature (1991), Patrick White (1994), Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic (2002), Exit Capitalism: Literary Culture, Theory and Post-Secular Modernity (2009), and Against Democracy: Literary Experience in the Era of Emancipations (2012). He is currently mainly working on a history of the relationship between Anglicanism and literature in Britain from 1600 to 1945.

Declan Kiberd is Donald and Marilyn Keough Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of English in the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame. A leading international authority on the literature of Ireland, both in English and Irish, Kiberd has authored scores of articles and many books, including Synge and the Irish Language (1979, 1993), Men and Feminism in Irish Literature (1985), Inventing Ireland (1997), Irish Classics (2001), The Irish Writer and the World (2001), Inventing Ireland (1997), and, most recently, Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce’s Masterpiece (2009).

Deidre Shauna Lynch is Chancellor Jackman Professor and Associate Professor of English, as well as affiliate faculty with the Collaborative Program in Book History and Print Culture. With the support of research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center (in the United States), the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (University of Edinburgh), and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Lynch has published widely on the literature and culture of eighteenth-century and romantic-period Britain, the history of women’s writing, the theory and history of the novel, the history of reading, and on Enlightenment dialogues between fiction and moral philosophy. Her book The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture and the Business of Inner Meaning (1998) won the Modern Language Association Prize for a First Book in 1999 and was the subject of a symposium at Stanford University’s Center for the Study of the Novel. Other books include (as editor or co-editor) Cultural Institutions of the Novel (1996), Janeites: Austen’s Disciples and Devotees (2000), the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the Norton Critical Edition of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and the Romantic Period volume of The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Her edition of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park will be published by Harvard University Press in 2014. She is currently completing At Home in English: A Cultural History of the Love of Literature, a book-length study that engages the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century prehistory of English studies in order to give a new account of the state of the discipline and of the state of our literary affections.

Sandra Macpherson is Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University and this semester is Class of 1932 Humanities Council Fellow and Visiting Professor in the Department of English at Princeton University. She is the author of Harm’s Way: Tragic Responsibility and the Novel Form (2010) and essays on Richardson, Pope, and Austen. She is in the process of completing a new book called The Shape of Form.

Vicki Mahaffey is Clayton and Thelma Kirkpatrick Professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois. She is a scholar of Irish literature and modernism with a special emphasis on gender and the work of James Joyce. Her books include Reauthorizing Joyce (1988, 1995); States of Desire: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and the Irish Experiment (1998); and Modernist Literature: Challenging Fictions (2007). She is a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Board of Trustees of the International James Joyce Foundation.

Michael Wood is Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He studied French and German at Cambridge University, and has taught at Columbia University and at the University of Exeter in the UK. He has written books on Vladimir Nabokov, Luis Bunuel, Franz Kafka, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as well as The Road to Delphi: The Life and Afterlife of Oracles (2004), a study of the ancient and continuing allure of oracles. Among his other books are America in the Movies (1989) and Children of Science: On Contemporary Fiction (1999). A member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books. His most recent book is Film: A Very Short Introduction (2012).


Bill Brown is Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on popular literary genres such as science fiction and the Western; on recreational forms such as baseball and kung fu; and on the ways that mass-cultural phenomena from roller coasters to Kodak cameras impress themselves on the literary imagination. He is currently working on the intersection of literary, visual and material cultures, an inquiry that asks how inanimate objects enable human subjects (individually and collectively) to form and transform themselves. Brown is Co-Editor of Critical Inquiry and is a Fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory. He is the author of A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature (2003) and editor of Things (2004).

Maud Ellmann is Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Professor of the Development of the Novel in English in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching interests focus on British and European modernism and literary theory. She has published several books, including The Poetics of Impersonality: T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound (1987); The Hunger Artists: Starving, Writing , and Imprisonment (1993); and Elizabeth Bowen: The Shadow across the Page (2003). Her most recent book, The Nets of Modernism: Henry James, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Sigmund Freud (2010), is a study of modernist fiction and psychoanalysis. Major awards she has received include the Mellon Fellowship at Harvard and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Humanities Center. In 2004, she received the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for literary criticism from the British Academy for her book on Elizabeth Bowen.

Frances Ferguson is Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the literary field of the eighteenth century and Romanticism and its changes over time (the rise of criticism and reviewing, the changes in the relationship between poetry and the novel), the history of reading and practical criticism, the rise of mass education, and the importance of Dissent in educated and educational thought in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is the author of Pornography, The Theory: What Utilitarianism Did To Action (University of Chicago Press, 2005), Solitude and the Sublime: Romanticism and the Aesthetics of Individuation (Routledge, 1992), and Wordsworth: Language as Counter-Spirit (Yale University Press, 1977).

Leela Gandhi is Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching interests include sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama, the culture of late-Victorian radicalism, Indo-Anglian literature, and Postcolonial theory. Her publications include Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship (2006), Postcolonialism: A Critical Introduction (1998), Measures of Home and Other Poems (2000), and co-authored England through Colonial Eyes (2001). She is the founding editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies. Her newest book, The Common Cause: Postcolonial Ethics and the Practice of Democracy, 1900-1955, will be published in spring 2014.

Lawrence Rothfield is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the way in which literature, criticism, and other cultural activities are caught up within epistemic and political struggles. He is the co-founder of the Cultural Policy Center, which brings together faculty whose research touches on or helps inform policies affecting the arts and humanities. His publications include Vital Signs: Medical Realism in Nineteenth-Century Fiction (1992) and The Rape of Mesopotamia: Behind the Looting of the Iraq Museum (2008).


James Chandler is Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of English Language and Literature and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. He is a scholar of the Romantic movement, lyric poetry, the history of the novel, Irish literature and culture, cinema studies, and the history of humanities disciplines. He is author of An Archaeology of Sympathy: The Sentimental Mode in Literature and Cinema (2013) and England in 1819: The Politics of Literary Culture and the Case of Romantic Historicism (1998); and co-editor or editor of The New Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature (2008) and The Cambridge Companion to Romantic Poetry (2008). Chandler is currently the Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities and Co-Director of the Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture.

Elaine Hadley is Professor and Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. She is a scholar of nineteenth-century British culture, examining popular culture (theater, journalism, cheap fiction) and political culture, especially liberalism as a social formation. Her latest book, Living Liberalism (2010), won the 2010 Albion Book Prize from the North American Conference on British Studies, and addresses Victorian political culture through political theory, theories of embodiment, and the material practices of citizenship.

Lisa Ruddick is Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include modern British fiction, literature and psychoanalysis, and poetry and poetics. Ruddick is currently writing a book on the ways in which professional training in the humanities, conducted with the best intentions, can thwart the feeling of aliveness by partially dissociating practitioners from their intuitions and their deep affective resources. She is the author of Reading Gertrude Stein: Body, Text, Gnosis (1990).

Kenneth Warren is Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. He is a specialist in African-American literature, nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature, and critical theory. His work has ranged from studying such major 20th-century writers as Leon Forrest and Ralph Ellison to such 19th-century critics as William Dean Howells. Warren is a member of the editorial boards of the Cambridge Series of American Literature and American Literary History. He is the author of Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism (1993) and So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism (2003).