Jonathan Farina, Ph.D.
Department of English
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.
Jonathan studies nineteenth-century British fiction, the histories of literary criticism and the natural sciences, and theories of everyday life. His first book, Everyday Words and the Character of Prose in Nineteenth-Century Britain, is under contract with Cambridge University Press. It analyzes the epistemic import of ordinary colloquial tics including "a decided turn," "as if," "but," "something" and "that sort of thing," "in particular" and "in general. Discussing novels by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, W. M. Thackeray, and Anthony Trollope in conjunction with Victorian scientific prose and 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
“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.
- Associate Fellow, 2010-11, Seminar "The Ordinary and the Everyday," Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University