Jonathan Farina is Associate Professor of English, Chair of the Faculty Senate, and President of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association (NVSA). He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on nineteenth-century British literature, the novel, and critical theory, as well as the Honors Colloquium on the Early-Modern World.
Farina researches the history of fiction as a genre, as a category of knowledge, and as a repository of everyday epistemic assumptions. His first book, Everyday Words and the Character of Prose in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press 2017), recounts how nineteenth-century writers of all kinds play with a grammar of everyday language that underwrites what counted as knowledge for Victorians, including scientists like Lyell, Darwin, and Tyndall. Analyzing a set of colloquial tics—"a turn," "as if," "but," "something," "particular" and "general"—the book shows how writers appropriated the most common forms of characterization to represent and afford human value and complexity to modern abstractions like the scientific method, the financial market, the social body, and fiction. "Characterization," it shows, was a historically specific mode of description that aimed not to reproduce facts but to deviate from them—and yet still tell the truth.
Farina is writing a second book, tentatively titled Aformalism: Undisciplined Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Britain. This book recasts Victorian literary criticism as a repository of alternative, never institutionalized forms of knowledge production rather than a mere genealogy of "new criticism." To this end, he is working on an article on the role of awkwardness as the constitutive affect of literary criticism and the epistemic object that enabled such criticism to become a discipline.
Farina has presented dozens of papers at MLA, NVSA, NAVSA, NASSR, Dickens Universe, the New York Public Library, The Grad Center at CUNY, Chicago, Columbia, Rutgers, Toronto, Glasgow, and elsewhere.
- Ph.D., New York University
- M.A., New York University
- B.S., Boston College
- Everyday Words and the Character of Prose in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Journal Articles and Book Chapters
“‘As a Matter of Course': Trollope's Ordinary Realism” in The Routledge Research Companion to Anthony Trollope, eds. Margaret Markwick, Deborah Morse, and Mark Turner. New York: Routledge, 2016. 142-53
“On the Genealogy of ‘Deportment': Being ‘Present' in Bleak House,” Special Issue on the V21 Symposium. boundary 2 online, October 4, 2016.
“Literary Histories of Natural Historical Books,” Victorian Literature and Culture 44.2 (June 2016): 411-21
“Allusive Tactics: R. H. Horne, Induction, and ‘Desultory Criticism,” Nineteenth-Century Prose 43.1-2 (Spring 2016): 115-34
- "Mad Libs and Stupid Critics." Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction, 46 (1), 325-338, August 2015.
"Whoever Explains a "But": Tact and Friction in Trollope's Reparative Fiction." Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature, no. 128, 139-61, September 2015.
- "Literary Criticism." Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, eds. Dino Franco Felluga, Pamela K. Gilbert, and Linda K. Hughes. Wiley-Blackwell, July 2015.
"The Excursion and the Surfaces of Things." The Wordsworth Circle 45.2, Special Issue on the Bicentennial of The Excursion guest-edited by Tom Duggett and Jacob Risinger, 99-105, April 2014.
- "David Masson's British Novelists and their Styles (1859) and the Establishment of Novels as an Object of Academic Study."
BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, June 2012.
"Dickens's ‘As If': Analogy and Victorian Virtual Reality." Victorian Studies 53.3, 427-36, February 2011.
"'A Certain Shadow': Personified Abstractions and the Form of Household Words." Victorian Periodicals Review, 42(4), 392- 415, December 2010.
"Flash Reading: Tom and Jerry and the Last Subordinations of Plot to Character." The Wordsworth Circle, 41(2), May 2010.
- "The New Science of Literary Mensuration: Accounting for Readers, Then and Now."
Victorians Institute Journal Digital Annex 38, n.p., January 2010.
- "Middlemarch and 'That Sort of Thing.'" RaVoN: Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 53, February 2009.
- Scholarly reviews and review essays of dozens of books published and forthcoming in European Romantic Review, Journal of British Studies, Modern Philology, Nineteenth-Century Prose, Notes & Queries, Review-19 (NBOL), Victorian Review, Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorian Studies, and The Wordsworth Circle.
- Associate Fellow, 2010-11, Seminar "The Ordinary and the Everyday," Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University
President, Northeast Victorian Studies Association (NVSA), 2018-
Delegate Assembly, Modern Language Association (LLC Victorian and Early 20th-Century English), 2018-
Trustee, The Dickens Society, 2018-