Dr. Farina writes about 19th-century English fiction by writers like Dickens and Thackeray and the history of science.
Jonathan Farina is Associate Professor of Nineteenth-Century British
Literature, an Associate Director of the Honors Program, and Director of
the Center for Literature and the Public Sphere, an initiative through
which the Department of English fosters interdisciplinary scholarship
and public engagement on social and intellectual issues.
Professor Farina studies nineteenth-century British fiction, the
history of literary criticism and the natural sciences, and theories of
the everyday. His first book project, Everyday Words and the Natural
History of Character, analyzes the everyday assumptions about knowledge
and reality that are inscribed in ordinary colloquialisms and
paradigmatic stylistic tics, including "a decided turn," "as if," "but,"
"something" and "that sort of thing," "in particular" and "in general."
Analyzing novels by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, W. M.
Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope in conjunction with Victorian scientific
prose and nineteenth-century cultural criticism, it describes the
grammatical forms that underwrite what counted as knowledge for
Victorian writers. So many of the fundamental forms of characterizing
fictional characters -- fictional people -- turn out also to be the
forms of characterizing inanimate, abstract things, like physical laws,
the economy, and legal practice.
Professor Farina has begun two other book projects: 1) Informalism,
an alternative history of Victorian literary criticism that, instead of
reducing the subject to a genealogy of present practices, respects its
historically specific repertoire of tropes and forms of thinking on
their own terms; and 2) a study of the tropes, syntax, and other
elements of style that distinguish nineteenth-century British scientific
Professor Farina has presented dozens of conference papers and many
invited talks at NVSA, NAVSA, MLA, the New York Public Library, The Grad
Center at CUNY, Rutgers, Columbia, the University of Chicago, the
University of Toronto (WINCS), and elsewhere. He is an Associate Editor
of The Wordsworth Circle and an active member of the Northeast Victorian