Jonathan Farina 222 pic.

 

Jonathan Farina, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of English

(973) 761-9388
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Fahy Hall
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Jonathan Farina, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of English

Jonathan Farina is Associate Professor of English and President of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association (NVSA). He teaches courses on nineteenth-century British literature, the novel, and critical theory as well as the Honors Colloquium on the Early-Modern World.

Farina studies 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), analyzes how these three interests converge in the Victorian concept of "character." Attending to set of colloquial tics—"a turn," "as if," "but," "something," "particular" and "general"—the book shows how writers extended the texture and values of fictional people to inanimate or abstract objects including natural laws, the financial market, and "all the world." The book thereby discloses a historically specific mode of description—"characterization"—that aimed not to reproduce or imitate facts but to deviate from them. Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, Gaskell, Eliot, Thackeray, and Trollope play with a grammar of everyday language that underwrites what counted as knowledge for Victorians from Charles Lyell to Charles Darwin.

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, not yet institutionalized forms of knowledge production rather than as a mere genealogy of new criticism. To this end, Farina 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, U Chicago, Columbia U, Rutgers U, and U Toronto. He is Executive Secretary of the Faculty Senate; member of Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association of America (LLC Victorian and Early-20th-Century English); and founding director of Humanities and the Public Sphere, an initiative through which the Department of English fosters cross-disciplinary scholarship and engagement with pressing public issues.