John Plotz

John PlotzProfessor of English
PhD, Harvard University
Editor, "B-Sides" (Public Books)

pronouns: he / him / his

Research Interests

Victorian literature, the novel, politics and aesthetics.


Selected Publications

BooksSemi-Detached book cover

Books and Articles (for a General Readership)

Academic Talks Available Online

Referenced Articles and Book Chapters

Edited Collection

Selected Reviews

Current Projects

“Nonhuman Being: Post-Darwinian Naturalism, Fantasy, and Science Fiction” attempts to trace the legacy of Darwinian natural materialism in the near-simultaneous emergence of prose fantasy, science fiction and Naturalist literature. In the late 19th century, evolutionary theory and the emergent “epistemic virtue” of objectivity shape not only the deterministic logic of Naturalism, but also the otherworldly permutations of fantasy and science fiction, which register a scalar shift in humanity’s relationship to a more expansive space and time—and to human interior accessible in a range of new ways. All three genres explore the nonhuman within human existence, making them bellwethers of changing human relations to the object as well as the animal world. A vernacular thing theory unfolded in the decades after Darwin—and in many ways persists into the present-day, subtly shaping various forms of “posthumanism” and “object-oriented ontology.” Studying the rise of fantasy, science fiction and naturalism together--a novel approach, building on excellent recent scholarship about each separate genre—clarifies not only that thing theory’s origins but also its contemporary afterlife.

Selected Courses Taught