John T. Matthews


  • Title Professor
  • Office 521
  • Phone 617-358-2555
  • Education BA, University of Pennsylvania
    MA, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

For CV click here

My research interests focus 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 imagining of Southern place—regional, hemispheric, and global—as a coherent, if shifting  project over the course of his career.  I continue to teach and write on Faulkner, with two edited volumes for Cambridge UP appearing recently (William Faulkner in Context and The New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner, both in 2015).

My current project is a book about the disavowal in US literature of national reliance on hemispheric plantation economies.  The first part of this study deals with nineteenth century writers, primarily Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, and will be published by the University of Georgia Press as Hidden in Plain Sight: Representing Slave Capitalism in US Fiction.  In recent essays on Willa Cather and Cormac McCarthy I’ve taken up instances of the ways more modern US fiction confronted cultural habits of disavowal.  The historical side of my work has led to regular interdisciplinary team-teaching with Prof. Nina Silber of Boston University’s Department of History, including undergraduate courses in Southern literature and modern American culture between the world wars, a graduate seminar in the US South in global context, and, presently, a first-year undergraduate seminar in the Kilachand Honors College on racial conflict in contemporary America explored in historical context.

Selected Publications

  • The New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner, Editor (2015)
  • William Faulkner in Context, Editor (2015)
  • 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)
  • “The Moveable South: Plantation Memory in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road,” in Unsteadily Marching On: The U.S. South in Motion (2013)
  • “Willa Cather and the Burden of Southern History,” Philological Quarterly (2011)
  • “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 The Cambridge Companion to Faulkner (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

Hidden in Plain Sight: Representing Slave Capitalism in US Fiction

 Honors, Grants, and Awards

  • NEH Senior Research Fellowship (1984–85, 1995–96)
  • Boston University Henderson Senior Research Fellowship (2006-7, 2014-15)
  • Fulbright Lectureship in American Studies, Charles University, Czech Republic (2010-11)
  • Boston University Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006)
  • Founding Co-Editor, The Faulkner Journal (1986-present)
  • President, The Faulkner Society (2006–2009)
  • President, Society for the Study of Southern Literature (2014-2016)
  • Lamar Memorial Lectures in Southern Studies, Mercer University (2016)


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