Executive Committee

Jeffrey Lawrence

Jeffrey LawrenceThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. research and teaching focus on 20th- and 21st-century American literature and culture and Latin American/Hemispheric Studies.  His first book, Anxieties of Experience: The Literatures of the Americas from Whitman to Bolaño (Oxford, 2018), offers a new interpretation of US and Latin American literature from the nineteenth century to the present. Revisiting longstanding debates in the hemisphere about whether the source of authority for New World literature derives from an author's first-hand contact with American places and peoples or from a creative (mis)reading of existing traditions, the book charts a widening gap in how modern US and Latin American writers defined their literary authority. In the process, it traces the development of two distinct literary strains in the Americas: the "US literature of experience" and the "Latin American literature of the reader." Reinterpreting a range of canonical works from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grassto Roberto Bolaño's 2666, Anxieties of Experience shows how this hemispheric literary divide fueled a series of anxieties, misunderstandings, and "misencounters" between US and Latin American authors. In the wake of recent calls to rethink the "common grounds" approach to literature across the Americas, the book advocates a comparative approach that highlights the distinct logics of production and legitimation in the US and Latin American literary fields. Anxieties of Experience closes by exploring the convergence of the literature of experience and the literature of the reader in the first decades of the twenty-first century, arguing that the post-Bolaño moment has produced the strongest signs of a truly reciprocal literature of the Americas in more than a hundred years.

Professor Lawrence is currently at work on a second book project, tentatively titled "Culture in Movement: US Literature, Social Movements, and Political Thought after 1945.” In the context of an increasing emphasis on literary institutions in the scholarship on post-45 American literature, the book argues that social movements rather than institutional networks have been the principle engine of formal and thematic innovations in American literature after 1945. It reads major literary texts from the 1950s forward in relation to the historical development of the counterculture, Civil Rights, Black Power, women’s liberation, anti-Vietnam, Chicanx, conservative, gay rights, Occupy, and Black Lives Matter movements.

Professor Lawrence's work has appeared in or is forthcoming from American Literary HistoryTwentieth-Century Literature, Variaciones BorgesThe IC Scientific Journal of Information and CommunicationPensamiento de los confinesTropics of Meta, and The Huffington Post. His translation of Andrés Neuman’s How to Travel Without Seeing appeared in 2016.  He is also a founding contributor to the online blog of literary reviews El Roommate: colectivo de lectores.