Assistant Professor of English
Jamison Kantor focuses on Romanticism, the black diaspora, politics and materialism, whether it takes the form of social practices (like dueling) or physical agents (like viruses). He is completing two books, both of which consider how rich categories of social meaning represented by literature—racial difference, labor and ecological stewardship—are depleted by modernity’s tendency towards technocracy, proceduralism and automation. The first book, Honor, Romanticism and the Hidden Value of Modernity (forthcoming from Cambridge UP), argues that the Romantics disputed old, hierarchical notions of honor through newer representations of honor rooted in equality. Drawing on the philosophical and aesthetic innovations of slave narratives—as well as gothic mystery, the topographical poem and the financial novel—Honor… wrestles with an ongoing political problem, in which institutions place abstract ideas about freedom over concrete forms of dignity. Kantor's second book considers technology, automation and the concept of historical progress from 1750 to 1850. One chapter claims that Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man—which features an apocalyptic pandemic—develops a new form of knowledge, “crisis thinking,” where all thought must base itself on the proliferation of viral matter over space, not changes over time; another contends that formerly enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley challenges the repetitive conventions of neoclassical versification to argue for the historical power of non-white subjects, who empire labeled as mere automatons of language and, thus, incapable of history.
Kantor's articles have been featured in journals such as S.E.L., The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Jump Cut, and PMLA.