Jonathan Farina .

 

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 Literature and founding director of the Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere, an initiative through which the Department of English fosters interdisciplinary scholarship and engagement with pressing public issues. 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’s scholarship focuses on 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 fundamental values and contours of fictional people to impersonal, inanimate and/or abstract objects, like institutions, natural laws, the market, and “all the world.” Farina thus discloses a historically specific mode of description—“characterization”—that aimed not to reproduce or imitate facts but to diverge or differ from them; he reveals how characterization in the novels of Austen, the Brontës, Dickens, Gaskell, Eliot, Thackeray, and Trollope reveals the grammar of everyday language that underwrites what counted as knowledge for Victorians from Charles Lyell to Charles Darwin.

Farina has begun two other book projects: 1) Aformalism, 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. He is also working on an article on the role of awkwardness as the aesthetic and epistemic object that enabled the reformation of literary criticism into a discipline. He has presented dozens of conference papers and many invited talks at NVSA, NAVSA, MLA, Dickens Universe, the New York Public Library, The Grad Center at CUNY, Rutgers, Columbia, Chicago, Toronto (WINCS), and elsewhere.


Farina is a member of the faculty senate and an active member of the Northeast Victorian Studies Association.