David Greven Ph.D. '02
I doubt that many prospective graduate students have stated that their goal was to combine the approaches of Harold Bloom and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, but that was the one that informed my graduate school application’s personal statement. As a professor at Brandeis would later say to me, “graduate school is the most normalizing kind of experience,” a statement that certainly holds true for academia generally. Given the conformity of a great deal of academic practice, Brandeis is a refreshingly non-normalizing environment in which atypical sensibilities can flourish, nurtured by bracingly idiosyncratic and attentive faculty.
I was thrilled to be in graduate school, buoyed by visions of debonair and casually brilliant fellow graduate students tossing bon mots back and forth on verdant lawns upon which sagelike professors held court. What I got at Brandeis was the rigor to match my fantastical enthusiasms. I remain awed by the sheer brilliance of the scholars I was privileged to study with at Brandeis: Mary Baine Campbell, Paul Morrison, Wai Chee Dimock (now at Yale), John Burt, Eugene Goodheart (Emeritus). Not only are they intimidatingly, compellingly smart but also deeply committed to the life of the mind; galvanized by their example, I strive to merge my scholarly pursuits and teaching in a way that honors them.
My greatest debt is to my friend Michael T. Gilmore, whose critical acuity and skills as an advisor are incomparable, matched only by his great generosity and kindness. I knew I was going to become an Americanist the first day of his graduate pro-seminar. In addition, I made some of the most significant friendships of my life at Brandeis, for me its most affecting legacy.
Brandeis cultivates the wild offspring of academia, those of us who can’t be readily classified; this is the program’s strength. It is vitally important, because Brandeis is open to so many different perspectives, that a graduate student amply demonstrate his or her academic readiness for the job market. Getting your work and ideas and presence out there (publishing, conferences, et al) is key to securing a job post-graduation; Brandeis will be of most help to you on the job market if you demonstrate your ability to disseminate your ideas in a broad and committed fashion. But this endeavor begins in the classroom. I can’t encourage you enough to make your presence felt in class. Contribute your ideas and hold true to your positions even if—perhaps especially!—they meet with resistance. Too often, the temptation is to slink into submission; fight this impulse and make the discussion a personally significant one for you.
I am currently an Associate Professor in the English department at The University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. Before USC, I taught at Connecticut College for eight years. I was awarded tenure there in my fifth year and was Chair of the department in 2011-2012. Before Connecticut College, I taught for two years in the Humanities program at Boston University's College of General Study and at Simmons College for a year. This fall, I have two new books coming out: The Fragility of Manhood: Hawthorne, Freud, and the Politics of Gender (Ohio State University Press) and Psycho-Sexual(University of Texas Press), on Hitchcock and the films of the 1970s. My other books areRepresentations of Femininity in American Genre Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Manhood in Hollywood from Bush to Bush (University of Texas Press, 2009), Gender and Sexuality in Star Trek: Allegories of Desire in the Television Series and Films (McFarland, 2009), and Men Beyond Desire: Manhood, Sex, and Violation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), which examines a figure I call the “inviolate male” of nineteenth-century American literature; a paperback edition is coming out this year as well.
Essays of mine have appeared or will appear in journals such as American Literary Realism, Nineteenth Century Studies, The Journal of American Studies, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, New Literary History, American Quarterly, Postmodern Culture, Cinema Journal, Genders, Jump Cut, Modern Psychoanalysis, The European Journal of American Culture, Refractory, Studies in American Fiction, Poe Studies: Dark Romanticism, and The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, as well as the critical readers Reel Food, Action Chicks, and Reading Sex and the City. I have co-edited a special issue of The Nathaniel Hawthorne Review on Hawthorne's late work and am Secretary of The Nathaniel Hawthorne Society. I am on the advisory board for Genders and read essays and manuscripts for publishers such as Oxford University Press, Northwestern University Press, and Palgrave Macmillan, and journals such as PMLA, College Literature, and Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies. I am a winner of a Phyllis W. Meadow Award for Excellence in Psychoanalytic Writing for my essay “Rereading Narcissism: Freud’s Theory of Male Homosexuality and Hawthorne’s ‘The Gentle Boy,’” which will be published in Modern Psychoanalysis vol. 34(2), 2009. As someone who works in several distinct fields at once—Americanist literary studies; film, television, and popular culture; psychoanalysis; queer theory—I maintain a strong conviction that heterogeneity is the key to scholarly fulfillment.