New Faculty Profile: Thomas Fulton, by
spending eight years at Yale and Wesleyan, Professor Thomas
Fulton finds that elements of familiarity, even nonacademic
ones, can help smooth the adjustment. "My wife loves
women's basketball, and her enthusiasm made me a fan of the
Huskies," says Fulton of the University of Connecticut's
Big East team. "Now that I'm at Rutgers, I'm looking
forward to seeing the two teams play."
Professor Fulton is settling into the Department, enjoying
meeting his new colleagues and students. His office in the
basement of Murray Hall, tucked away in one corner of the
maze, already has a homey feel. Though some might see the
size of the Rutgers English Department as a disadvantage,
Professor Fulton sees it as an opportunity. "I'm very
excited to be a part of such a wide-ranging department,"
he says. "The possibilities for collaborations with colleagues
in different fields are rich and exciting." Having graduated
as an English major from the University of Wisconsin, he knows
what it's like studying English at a big public university.
As a teacher, Professor Fulton tries to impart a strong sense
of the rewards - and the challenges - of studying literature.
His primary interest lies with seventeenth-century literature.
"The seventeenth century is fascinating," he says,
"because literature, revolutionary ideology, philosophy,
and the 'Scientific Revolution' all influence each other in
complicated, interconnected ways. And, on top of the Scientific
Revolution, a major political revolution in England substantially
reshaped cultural discourse and inquiry." In his first
semester at Rutgers, he taught the introduction to the English
major and a course on Renaissance Literature and Culture,
subtitled, "Vices, Machiavels, and Revengers." This
survey looked at the ways Renaissance drama developed from
classical and Medieval forms, including readings such as The
Oresteia, Everyman, Measure for Measure, The Spanish Tragedy,
The Jew of Malta, Richard III, and Hamlet. As
the subtitle suggests, the course focused on the juicy political
intrigues and moral dilemmas that fill these plays.
Professor Fulton comes to the English Department after teaching
at Wesleyan last year. He received his Ph.D. from Yale in
2000, where he held an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. Although
his field is Renaissance Studies, a large part of his research
focuses on how writers like Erasmus and More looked back to
classical authors while becoming political advisors, and that
work earned him the Goheen Classical Studies Prize in 2000,
an award given to one young scholar a year. Professor Fulton
is currently working on a book called Milton and the Philosophy
of the English Revolution, and a separate article, "Milton's
Areopagitica and the Roots of Liberal Epistemology,"
will soon be published in English Literary Renaissance. The
article concentrates on the interplay between poetry and politics,
a topic familiar to him: "My main scholarly interests
all seem to be connected to the relationship literature has
with the social and political realm."
A winner of the 1999 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Fellowship,
Professor Fulton is now serving on the library committee at
Rutgers. His own research has made him a great advocate of
electronic databases, arguing that with access, "students
can do ground-breaking projects on their own, accomplishing
serious scholarly research from their dorm rooms that used
to require years of work at special collections." Professor
Fulton has made it a goal to integrate these new resources
into his teaching, and to convince the library to acquire
the best new tools for literary studies. "English departments
do cutting-edge research in so many ways," he notes.
"There's always something new to learn, even while working
with authors from centuries ago."
to read Thomas Fulton's "Beyond the Stacks"