John T. Matthews



BA, University of Pennsylvania
MA, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Room 521
For CV click here

My research concentrates on American literature, modernist studies, literary theory, and literature of the US South, with special attention to Faulkner.  I’ve written several books on Faulkner, including The Play of Faulkner’s Language (Cornell UP, 1982), which took a post-structuralist approach to his work, and most recently William Faulkner: Seeing Through the South (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), a study of Faulkner’s engagement with the imagination of Southern place—regional, hemispheric, and global—as a coherent, if variegated project over the course of his career.  As my scholarship became more attentive to the historical ramifications of Faulkner’s fiction, I wrote a series of essays on questions of Southern plantation history, national modernization, and modernist aesthetics in Faulkner.  I will continue to teach and write on Faulkner, with two edited volumes under contract for Cambridge UP (Faulkner in Context and A New Companion to Faulkner).

Currently, my main project is a book on the purposeful misrepresentation of the South in US literature, its argument ranging from Poe through Hawthorne and Melville, but principally devoted to modern writing about the South that sought to confront a cultural tradition of disavowing the region’s place in national development: Twain, Jean Toomer, Julia Peterkin, Erskine Caldwell, Willa Cather, Faulkner and others.  Portions of this book have appeared in periodical form, most recently a piece in Philological Quarterly entitled “Willa Cather and The Burden of Southern History.”  The methodological apparatus for this book involves theories of cultural fetishism, drawn from historical, anthropological, psychoanalytic, and ideological accounts of the wide-ranging effect of hiding unwanted knowledge in plain sight.  The historical side of my work over recent years has led to regular interdisciplinary team-teaching with Prof. Nina Silber of Boston University’s Department of History, including graduate credit courses in Southern literature and modern American culture between the world wars, and a graduate seminar in the US South in global context.

Selected Publications
  • William Faulkner: Seeing Through the South (2009)
  • A Companion to the Modern American Novel, Editor (2009)
  • The Sound and the Fury: Faulkner and the Lost Cause (1990)
  • The Play of Faulkner’s Language (1982)
  • “Many Mansions: Faulkner’s Cold War Conflicts,” in Global Faulkner: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 2006 (2009)
  • “Globalizing the U.S. South: Modernity and Modernism,” American Literature (2006)
  • “American Writing of the Great War,” in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War (2005)
  • “Recalling the West Indies: From Yoknapatawpha to Haiti and Back,” American Literary History (2004)
  • “This Race Which Is Not One: The More Inextricable Compositeness of Faulkner’s South,” in Look Away! The U.S. South in New World Studies (2004)
  • “Touching Race in Go Down, Moses,” in New Essays on Go Down, Moses (1996)
  • “Faulkner and the Culture Industry,” in A Faulkner Companion (1994)
  • As I Lay Dying in the Machine Age,” Boundary 2 (1992)
  • “Shortened Stories: Faulkner and the Market,” in Faulkner and the Short Story (1992)
  • “Intertextual Frameworks: The Ideology of Parody in John Barth,” in Essays on Intertextuality and Contemporary American Literature (1989)
  • “Framing in Wuthering Heights,” Texas Studies in Literature and Language (1985)
  • “The Elliptical Nature of Sanctuary,” Novel (1984)
Work in Progress
  • Look Away, Look Awry: The Problem of the South in the American Imagination
Honors, Grants, and Awards
  • NEH Senior Research Fellowship (1984–85, 1995–96)
  • Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006)
  • President, The Faulkner Society (2006–2009)