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See Professor Gilmore's Faculty Guide page for more information.


Michael T. Gilmore

The War on Words (2010) Gilmore


Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., Harvard University


Our friend and colleague Michael T. Gilmore died on March 3, 2014 after a brief serious illness. Timo Gilmore came to Brandeis in 1974 after earning his Ph.D. at Harvard University. At Brandeis, he earned our department a national reputation in the study of American Literature, particularly in the literature and culture of the Nineteenth Century.

He was the author of eight books and dozens of articles in his years at Brandeis, beginning with The Middle Way: Puritanism and Ideology in American Literature in 1977. His scholarship paid particular attention to the relationship between literature and politics, and he brought to literary study the skills and learning of a historian and the deep political commitments that marked his sensibility from the beginning. His second book, American Literature and the Marketplace (1985), and the collection Rethinking Class: Literary Studies and Social Formations (1994) (which he edited with Wai-Chee Dimock) showed the tangled relationships among American authors, the literary market, and the economic world generally, and the engagement of American authors with issues of class difference and class struggle. Two later works, Differences in the Dark, American Movies and English Theater (1998) and Surface and Depth: The Quest for Legibility in American Culture (2003) treated how American politics and American economic history gave a distinctive cast to American works across genres and periods. His last book The War on Words: Slavery, Race and Free Speech in American Literature (2010) discussed how the struggle over slavery and race from the American Renaissance through the end of the Nineteenth Century was also a struggle over freedom of expression, with the urgent call for racial justice always contending with forces that would repress or divert criticism. At the time of his death he was hard at work on a study of literary radicalism in his beloved Cambridge.

Timo was famous as a generous, patient, and demanding graduate advisor, who helped many doctoral students find their way as they completed their dissertations. His lecture survey on American Literature of the nineteenth century was a “must take” course among Brandeis undergraduates, and his graduate seminars gave our graduate program its unique flavor. His students are teaching American Literature in ways shaped by his learning at colleges and Universities around the world. He was several times Chair of the English Department at Brandeis. And most of all, he was a wonderful colleague and a devoted friend to all of us in the English Department.     

For information about making a donation in Timo's memory, please visit this page.

Research Interests

18th- & 19th-Century American Literature, American History and Political Thought, 20th-Century American Fiction, American Cinema, American Puritanism

Selected Publications

The War on Words:  Slavery, Race, and Free Speech in American Literature
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Surface & Depth: The Quest for Legibility in American Culture
Oxford University Press, 2003.
Differences in the Dark, American Movies and English Theater
New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

"Letters of the Early Republic" in The Cambridge History of American Literature
Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Rethinking Class: Literary Studies and Social Formations.
New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. Co-edited with Wai Chee Dimock.
American Romanticism and the Marketplace.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

Early American Literature: A Collection of Critical Essays.
Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1980.
The Middle Way: Puritanism and Ideology in American Romantic Fiction.
New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1977.
Articles and reviews in ELH, American Literature, Early American Literature, New England Quarterly, Studies in the Novel, The Nation, and other periodicals 

Selected Courses

American Literature from 1832 to 1900 (ENG 6a)
Race and Realism (ENG 136a)
Surface & Depth: Explorations in American Legibility ENG 206b)
Literature, Culture, and Society: American Novels from the Revolution to the 20th Century (ENG 266a)
American Fins de Siecles (ENG 208a)