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Alicia J. Christoff

Asst Prof of English

Departmental affiliation:English

Degrees

Ph.D. Princeton University, 2011

M.A. New York University, 2005

B.A. New York University, 2004

Teaching

I specialize in Victorian literature and literary theory. My wider interests include the novel, the history of reading, comparative nineteenth-century fiction, psychoanalysis and the history of psychology, gender and race studies, and modern fiction. 

A central question that shapes not only my research but also my teaching involves the way literature shapes lived experience. For instance, my course Literature and Psychoanalysis explores narrative as a force that dictates the course not only of stories, but also of individual and collective lives. An introduction to literary theory, the course invites students to investigate their own acts of interpretation, on the page and off. In the Victorian Lives course, we experiment with various ways of bringing literary form into conversation with larger social, political, and cultural concerns. The period’s plots and ways of thinking – from domestic ideology to imperialism to industrial, scientific, and technological revolutions – are so formative that no matter how modern we think we are, we find that in many ways we are still Victorian.

Research

My current book project, Novel Feelings, explores the way the Victorian novel teaches us to read, teaches us to feel, and teaches us to experience our own subjectivity. Each of my four main chapters explores the way a dominant feeling – wishfulness in The Mill on the Floss, weariness in Middlemarch, loneliness in Tess of the D’Urbervilles, and restfulness in The Return of the Native – dictates not only the content, but also the form and style of the realist novel. My project both places the nineteenth-century novel within the history of psychology and helps us to understand feeling as a matter of literary form.

Publications 

"Alone with Tess," NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction (forthcoming).

Review of The Christopher Bollas Reader, in Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society 18 (2013): 101–104.

“The Weariness of the Victorian Novel: Middlemarch and the Medium of Feeling," English Language Notes 48.1 (2010), Special Issue on Genre and Affect: 139-154.

Honors and Awards

American Psychoanalytic Association Fellowship, 2012-2013

Mellon-Keiter Postdoctoral Fellowship, Amherst College, 2011-2013

Five College Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Amherst College, 2010-2011