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Jason Berger

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Associate Professor

Jason Berger is an associate professor of nineteenth-century American literature and critical theory. He is the author of Antebellum at Sea: Maritime Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century America (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2012), which was nominated for the MLA Fist Book Prize and explores how maritime narratives negotiated developing global realities. He is currently working on two monograph projects. The first, Xenocitizens: Illiberal Ontologies in Nineteenth-Century America (Forthcoming Spring 2020, Fordham University Press), offers a new approach toward antebellum political personhood that challenges a longstanding scholarly tradition based upon liberal-humanist perspectives. The book contributes to emerging theories in fields such as new materialism, environmental humanities, and black studies by examining how crises in the antebellum years pushed writers to formulate alternative models for thinking about political ontologies and ecologies. His more recent project, tentatively titled Whale Undone: Ecologies of Actuality, follows a web of alternative material and formal realities in order to unsettle common presentations of modernity as well as developing materialisms.

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  • Ph.D., University of Connecticut
  • M.A., University of Vermont
  • B.S., Central Connecticut State University

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Research Interests

Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Critical Theory (Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Posthumanism, Queer Theory, New Materialism), Environmental Humanities

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  • Antebellum at Sea: Maritime Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century America. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (2012).
  • Xenocitizens: Illiberal Ontologies in Nineteenth-Century America (Forthcoming Spring 2020, Fordham University Press).
  • Whale Undone: Ecologies of Actuality (In progress).

Selected Articles & Chapters

  • “Roberto Bolaño’s Moby-Dick: Unflattening Formalism” (forthcoming in Cultural Critique; 31 pages).
  • “Emerson’s Operative Mood: Religious Sentiment and Violence in the Early Works.” Studies in Romanticism 54 (Winter 2015): 477-502.
  • “Travel.” Ralph Waldo Emerson in Context. Ed. Wesley T. Mott. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 49-56.
  • “The Political Fantastic: Žižek, Fantasy, and a New Autonomous Aesthetics.” The Minnesota Review 79 (October 2012): 53-77.
  • “Antebellum Fantasies of the Common Sailor; or, Enjoying the Knowing Jack Tar.” Criticism 51.1 (Winter 2009): 29-61.
  • “Killing Tom Coffin: Rethinking the Nationalist Narrative in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Pilot.” Early American Literature 43.3 (November 2008): 643-671.
  • “Refiguring O’Neill’s Early Sea Plays: Maritime Labor Enters the Age of Modernity.” The Eugene O’Neill Review 28 (May 2006): 13-31.

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