Assistant Professor of English
Professor Jonathan Foltz joins the English department this Fall after receiving his PhD from Princeton University. He comes to us from Sydney, where he spent a year as visiting researcher at the Centre for Modernism Studies in Australia at the University of New South Wales. Professor Foltz is currently writing a book entitled Modernism and the Narrative Cultures of Film, which examines how the character and task of literature was redefined in response to the emergence of cinema. In this work, he suggests that aesthetic debates about the medium of film obliged writers to ask new kinds of questions about language, subjectivity, and narrative omniscience. For this reason, he argues, writing about film in the modernist period became a literary genre unto itself, where authors spun self-reflexive fictions about the cinema that doubled as commentaries on their own novelistic experiments. Through readings of Virginia Woolf, H.D. Henry Green, Roger Fry and I.A. Richards, Professor Foltz’s work shows that literary modernism’s relation to film was one of charged aesthetic rivalry and generative antagonism, and that it led writers to express discontent with the inward tendencies of fiction.
Professor Foltz’s work brings together approaches and concepts from film studies, media theory, aesthetics, and the history of literary form. With the help of these different methods, he hopes to tell us how literary culture in the 20th Century has been transformed through its competition with other media. These research interests also motivate Professor Foltz’s approach to teaching, and his classes often juxtapose films, literature, and philosophy as a way of encouraging students to investigate competing forms of communication and selfhood.