John Evelev

John Evelev
Associate Professor
323 Tate
Areas of Study: 
American Literature to 1914
Research and Teaching: 

19th century American literature and cultural theory

John Evelev teaches courses in American literature and cultural theory. His research focuses on mid-nineteenth-century literature with a cultural studies methodology. His book, Tolerable Entertainment: Herman Melville, Professionalism and Antebellum New York City (UMass Press, 2006) reads Melville's literary career through the class politics of city life. His current project, Reformist Landscapes: The Social Politics of the Literary Picturesque, reads works of the literary genres of the picturesque in the mid-19th century to examine how the middle class sought to reshape the American landscape to reflect their political and social values. The project looks at a range of writers engaging with these genres from the familiar (Melville, Hawthorne and Thoreau) to the well-known, but seldom now read (Longfellow, Willis, Holmes, Mitchell (Ik Marvel)), to other writers of the period now wholly forgotten. The project of examining this mix of authors within some now obscure generic categories is not intended to realign or reaffirm notions of literary merit, but to understand how an aesthetic mode or sensibility became a means of thinking through a range of issues crucial to middle-class selfhood in mid-nineteenth-century America.

Education: 

A.B 1987, Bowdoin College

PhD 1995, Duke University

Select Publications: 
  • “The City Sketch: Writing Middle-Class Identity on the Streets of Antebellum New York,” in Class and the Making of American Literature (Routledge, 2014).
  • “Poe: the Literary Profession,” in Edgar Allan Poe in Context (Cambridge UP, 2012)
  • “Alternatives to Professional Autonomy: N.P. Willis and Margaret Fuller in the Antebellum American Literary Field,” in Intellectual Authority and Literary Culture in the U.S., 1790-1900 (Heidelberg, 2013).
  • “The Politics of the New England Village Novel: The Picturesque Sensibility and Reform,” ESQ vol. 53:2 (2007), 149-77.
  • Tolerable Entertainment: Herman Melville and Professionalism in Antebellum New York (University of Massachusetts Press, 2006). www.umass.edu
  • "Every One to His Trade": Mardi, Literary Form and Professional Ideology American Literature 75:2 (2003).
  • The Contrast: The Problem of Theatricality and Political and Social Crisis in Postrevolutionary America Early American Literature 31:1 (1996).
  • Typee, Tattooing, and the Literary Marketplace Arizona Quarterly 48:4 (1992).
Awards and Honors: 
  • Botein Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society
  • Research Board Fellowship, University of Missouri
  • Summer Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Botein Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society
  • Research Board Fellowship, University of Missouri
  • Summer Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities