University of Mississippi

Theory Aside

theory asside by dan stout

by Daniel Stout

Where can theory go now? Where other voices concern themselves with theory’s life or death, the contributors to Theory Aside take up another possibility: that our theoretical prospects are better served worrying less about “what’s next?” and more about “what else?” Instead of looking for the next big thing, the fourteen prominent thinkers in this volume take up lines of thought lost or overlooked during theory’s canonization. They demonstrate that intellectual progress need not depend on the discovery of a new theorist or theory. Moving subtly through a diverse range of thinkers and topics—aesthetics, affect, animation and film studies, bibliography, cognitive science, globalization, phenomenology, poetics, political and postcolonial theory, race and identity, queer theory, and sociological reading practices—the contributors show that a more sustained, less apocalyptic attention to ideas might lead to a richer discussion of our intellectual landscapes and the place of the humanities and social sciences in it. In their turn away from the radically new, these essays reveal that what’s fallen aside still surprises.



by Derrick Harriell

Long before Jackie Robinson bravely entered Major League hatred, African Americans tied cultural pride, anxiety and politick to angry fists buffered with cotton.  Derrick Harriell has mined the human history of lives perpetually in fight and woven a gutbucket stench of ghetto wail and back alley holler survival.  The work of these four rounds, the transparent employment of voice and source, working the head, body, groin and knees, is a flurry of converging dialogues: real and cleverly imagined, in conversation with self, God, Uncle Sam, other Black pugilists and the women who adorn these boxers as trinket and stain.  Jack Johnson, from Leavenworth, writes to Joe Louis We take turns dying.  Myth, truth, lies and the substance of Black testosterone in viscous, historically-textured sonics, Ropes confirms Derrick Harriell is among the finest young poets in the country.

– Quraysh Ali Lansana, author of mystic turf and Our Difficult Sunlight: a guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community

Hawks on Wires

Hawks on Wires

by Dave Smith

Dave Smith’s sixteenth poetry collection chronicles the arc of almost sixty years living in the American South. From dusty sawmills to the ubiquitous Waffle House, Hawks on Wires stages both mortal and comic dramas that speak to the poet’s autumnal acceptance of himself and the South.

Poems of growing up engaged with the people of the coast and woodlands–boatmen, hunters, crabbers, sawyers, and tough-mouthed waitresses–celebrate the once strong but now tenuous threads of community.

Traveling through the latter twentieth century, Smith presents matters of family, sex, and race during a turbulent and historic era in southern history. Assassinations, withdrawal of religious prohibitions, violent cultural convulsions, and even the diminished meaning of the word ”southern” shake the poet’s personal identity.

Smith uses the language of an ordinary man seeking meaning as the memory of events, carried over a lifetime, now begs for explanation. Despite the inevitable displacements and disappointments of identity, which remain mysterious, Smith finds optimism in life.

Animal Bodies, Renaissance Culture


by Karen Raber

Animal Bodies, Renaissance Culture examines how the shared embodied existence of early modern human and nonhuman animals challenged the establishment of species distinctions. The material conditions of the early modern world brought humans and animals into complex interspecies relationships that have not been fully accounted for in critical readings of the period’s philosophical, scientific, or literary representations of animals. Where such prior readings have focused on the role of reason in debates about human exceptionalism, this book turns instead to a series of cultural sites in which we find animal and human bodies sharing environments, mutually transforming and defining one another’s lives.

Daniel A. Novak


Daniel Novak specializes in Victorian literature and culture. His research and teaching interests include nineteenth-century visual culture, race studies, and gender and sexuality studies.  He is author of Realism, Photography, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and co-editor of ‘Masculinity Lessons’: Rethinking Men’s and Women’s Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).  His essays have appeared in journals such as Representations, Novel, Victorian Studies, and Criticism. He is currently at work on two book projects. The first, Victoria’s Accursed Race explores Victorian literature on the Cagots–an ethnic group of unknown origin and ambiguous race found in France and Spain. The second, Specters of Wilde focuses on the development of Wilde Studies in the early decades of the 20th century


  • Ph.D.,  Princeton University (2002)
  • M.A., Princeton University (1998)
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles (1994)

Teaching and Research Interests:

  • Victorian Literature and Culture
  • 19th century Literature and Visual Culture
  • Photography and Film
  • Nineteenth-Century Theories of Race
  • The History of Sexuality
  • Oscar Wilde

Selected Publications:

  • “Caught in the Act: Photography on the Victorian Stage,” Victorian Studies 59:1 (Autumn, 2016), 35-64.
  • “Performing the ‘Wilde West’: Victorian Afterlives, Sexual Performance, and the American West,” Victorian Studies 54:3 (Spring 2012), 451-463.
  • “‘Shapeless Deformity’: Monstrosity, Gender, and Racial Masquerade in Thomas Grattan’s Cagot’s Hut,”in: Speaking of Monsters: A Teratological Anthology(Palgrave, 2012), 83-96.
  • “A Literature of its Own: Time, Space, and Narrative Meditations in Victorian Photography,” in Media, Technology, and Literature in the Nineteenth Century: Image, Sound, Touch(Ashgate, 2011), 65-90.
  • With James Catano, Ed. ‘Masculinity Lessons’: Rethinking Men’s and Women’s Studies(Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
  • “Picturing Wilde: Christopher Millard’s ‘Iconography of Oscar Wilde,’” Nineteenth-Century Contexts(32.4, 2010), 305-335.
  • “Photographic Fictions: Nineteenth-Century Photography and the Novel-Form,” Novel: A Forum on Fiction43:1 (Spring 2010), 23-30.
  • “Sexuality in the Age of Technological Reproducibility: Oscar Wilde, Photography, and Identity,” Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend, Ed. Joseph Bristow (Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2009), 63-95.
  • Realism, Photography, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • “Labors of Likeness: Photography and Labor in Capital,” Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts, 49: 2, Spring 2007, 125-150.
  • “A Model Jew: ‘Literary Photography’ and the Jewish Body in Daniel Deronda.” Representations 85, Winter 2004, 58-97.
  • “‘If Re-Collecting were Forgetting’: Forged Bodies and Forgotten Labor in Little Dorrit.” Novel: AForum on Fiction. 31:1 (Fall 1997), 21-44.


Bondurant C121
dnovak at

On behalf of the MFA program, Professor Beth Ann Fennelly is proud to accept the Graduate School’s Diversity Award from dean John Kiss as this year’s commencement.

On behalf of the MFA program, Professor Beth Ann Fennelly is proud to accept the Graduate School’s Diversity Award from dean John Kiss as this year’s commencement.

Mary Miller

tumblr_inline_mtbz96CECF1sn76k7Mary Miller grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. Her collection of stories, Big World, was published in 2009 by Short Flight/Long Drive Books. A graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, her first novel, The Last Days of California, was recently published to great acclaim.

W111 Bondurant Hall
mumiller at

A Statement of Commitment and Support

The faculty of the English Department at the University of Mississippi recognizes the importance of diversity to the ongoing success and future growth of the department and university.  Diversity represents the many salient experiences that mark human difference, and may include: race, national origin, economic background, sexual orientation, gender expression and characteristics, and disabilities. A diverse faculty, staff, and student body are integral to preparing our students for a global society, as they promote cross-cultural understanding through the creation and maintenance of an open learning environment, both in the classroom and in the broader community, that fosters learning, promotes cooperation, collaboration, and tolerance, and can potentially dispel stereotypes. In these ways, diversity is key to the department’s mission to enrich students’ understanding of literature, engage them in the cultural debate, develop crucial skills in analytical thinking, and prepare them for an increasingly diverse contemporary workplace.

Even more salient to the university, however, are the unanticipated benefits of diversity.  Including diverse members of the campus community in conversations about policy, scholarship, teaching, learning, service, and campus life may have unanticipated consequences by posing unexpected questions and inviting different conclusions. It is diversity’s potential to surprise, to disrupt, to rethink and reshape that makes it so essential to the mission of the university.  For these reasons, the department is committed to fostering a diverse teaching, learning, and work environment at the University of Mississippi.

* * *

Moreover, in light of recent incidents of racial and sexual intolerance on our campus, the department wishes to express support for the LGBTQ and African American members of our campus community. We wish to publicly recognize that both groups make essential contributions to the functioning of our university and our department as educators, staff, and students. Together, African Americans, LGBTQ people, and their allies advance our goals of academic excellence, creating successful and enriching learning environments where all campus members thrive. Most importantly, the members of these communities are our colleagues, mentors, and friends, and we are grateful for their presence at the University of Mississippi.


Ann Fisher-Wirth receives the 2014 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teaching Award.

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The Works-in-Progress Seminar Series presents: Karen Raber Friday, Apr. 18th 3-4pm.

fpi14Department of English Professor Karen Raber will present “Animals at the Table:  Making Meat in Early Modern Europe” in the Hannah-Ford Room (Bondurant Hall 2nd Fl.) as part of the Spring 2014 Works-in-Progress Seminar Series.
Meat has become the monarch of the meal, surrounded by fawning courtiers (vegetables), often enthroned (on starches or other ingredients) and crowned (with cheeses or sauces).  Recent adventures in pink slime and petri dish meats have brought home how hard it is to decenter “real” meat from this sovereign position.  But it hasn’t always been this way: only at a fairly late date in its etymology did the term “meat” begin to signify specifically the flesh of a dead animal—until that time, it was simply a generic term for all food.  Meat’s etymology thus suggests that something happened in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, something beyond the economic and demographic changes usually cited in literature to date, to transform the role of meat in English and European culture.  This project takes up three ways early modern meat functions as a quasi-object engaged in complex interactions with human bodies, with other meats, and with the objects and subjects involved in its creation: the attempt to make meat a “performer” at the banquet table; the creation of “transgenic”  or masquerading meats; and the representation of meat as an architectural environment in the butcher shop genre paintings of the late sixteenth century. These I hope will provide new ways to think about the material, historical, and ethical dimensions of meat-eating.
Karen Raber is a professor in the Department of English here at the University of Mississippi. Some of her interests include Early Modern studies, ecocriticism, and animal studies. For more information on Dr. Raber’s publications and research including her new book, Animal Bodies Renaissance Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) please visit her faculty profile page:

The Works-in-Progress Seminar Series is hosted by the English Graduate Student Body and open to all. The seminars consist of a thirty-minute presentation followed by a Q & A discussion where feedback and further suggestions by both faculty and other graduate students are highly encouraged! A version of the material to be presented on will be sent out to those on the English Department listserve closer to the event. Those not on the listserve who would like a copy, or for more information about this or other Works-in-Progress series events, please contact