Wesleyan portrait of Joel  Pfister

Joel Pfister

Olin Professor of English

860-685-3603

Professor of English

Downey House, 294 High Street, 303
860-685-3603

Professor, American Studies

Downey House, 294 High Street, 303
860-685-3603

jpfister@wesleyan.edu

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BA Columbia University
MA University of Sussex
MA University of London
PHD Yale University

Joel Pfister

Joel Pfister is Olin Professor of English and American Studies (his previous appointment was Kenan Professor of the Humanities).  He teaches a range of courses in American literature, American movies, and cultural analysis and critique. Over the past decade or so he has served as chair of American Studies (twice) and chair of English, and in 2019-20 he is serving as Director of the Center for the Americas. Pfister has written six books:  THE PRODUCTION OF PERSONAL LIFE: CLASS, GENDER, AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IN HAWTHORNE'S FICTION (Stanford University Press, 1991); STAGING DEPTH: EUGENE O'NEILL AND THE POLITICS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISCOURSE (University of North Carolina Press, 1995, CHOICE "Best Academic Books of 1995" award); INDIVIDUALITY INCORPORATED: INDIANS AND THE MULTICULTURAL MODERN (Duke University Press, 2004); CRITIQUE FOR WHAT? CULTURAL STUDIES, AMERICAN STUDIES, LEFT STUDIES (Paradigm, 2006, Routledge, 2016); THE YALE INDIAN: THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ROE CLOUD (Duke University Press, 2009); and SURVEYORS OF CUSTOMS: AMERICAN LITERATURE AS CULTURAL ANALYSIS (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is also the co-editor of INVENTING THE PSYCHOLOGICAL: TOWARD A CULTURAL HISTORY OF EMOTIONAL LIFE IN AMERICA (Yale University Press, 1997).  And he has published articles or reviews in numerous journals, including AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORY, AMERICAN LITERATURE, AMERICAN QUARTERLY, JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES, COMPARATIVE AMERICAN STUDIES, YALE JOURNAL OF CRITICISM, NOVEL, LEVIATHAN, AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, REVIEWS IN AMERICAN HISTORY, JOURNAL OF ENGLISH AND GERMANIC PHILOLOGY, JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF THE BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, and TECHNOLOGY IN SOCIETY. Pfister has received several fellowships, such as an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship, a Rockefeller fellowship (in residence at the Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio), and a Mellon fellowship, and has lectured in China, Japan, Israel, England, Ireland, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway, and Italy as well as the United States and Canada. The colleges, universities, and centers at which he has given "invited lectures" include Rothermere American Institute Oxford University, Cambridge University, Institute of U.S. Studies London University, King's College London University, York University, Nottingham University, Sussex University, Futures of American Studies Institute Dartmouth College, Middlebury College, Colby College, University of Illinois Unit for Criticsm and Interpretive Theory (Urbana-Champaign), University of Wisconsin, Society of Fellows University of Chicago, Yale University, Center for American Studies Columbia University, Society of Fellows in the Humanities Columbia University, University of Maryland (College Park), Baruch College CUNY, College of William and Mary, Willamette University, University of Copenhagen, Odense University, Aarhus University, Université d'Orléans, Tel Aviv University, Nanjing University, Reitaku University, Centro di Studi Americani (Rome), and Institut für England- und Amerikastudien Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main. Pfister was a Visiting Professor of North American Studies in the John F. Kennedy Institute of North American Studies in the Graduate School in the Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany, in 2011 and co-taught a graduate seminar in Critical Theory while continuing his research. In July, 2012, he served as a Lecturer of American Studies on the faculty of the West-China Faculty Enhancement Program in American Studies, co-sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the China Association for the Study of American Literature, and taught Chinese and Tibetan university professors American literature-as-American Studies in Xi'an, China (the program was held at Xi'an's Northwest University).  In Spring 2018 he taught graduate courses in American literature and culture as a Visiting Professor of Anglophone Studies at the Université de Caen Normandie in France. And in Spring 2019 Pfister was appointed Visiting Professor of the Humanities at the Università degli Studi di Macerata on Italy's Adriatic coast and taught one American Studies graduate course and conducted research on his book-in-progress.  

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Fall 2018: Tuesday, 1:30-3:30, Downey House 303

Courses

Fall 2019
ENGL 203A - 01
American Literature on Fire

ENGL 203A - 02
American Literature on Fire