University Profiles

Jonathan Farina

Jonathan Farina, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of English


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 prose.

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 Studies Association.


  • Ph.D., New York University
  • M.A., New York University
  • B.S., Boston College

Academic Distinctions

  • Associate Fellow, 2010-11, Seminar "The Ordinary and the Everyday," Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University



Office Phone
(973) 761-9388


Office Location
Room 365
Fahy Hall


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