Nineteenth-century British literature; modernist literature, the novel and narrative theory, gender and sexuality, sociology and literature, the modern Latin American novel.
Professor Kurnick’s research and teaching focus on the history of the novel, narrative theory, sociology and literature, and sexuality and gender. He is the author of Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel (Princeton, 2012). The book examines the theatrical ambitions of major Anglophone novelists (William Makepeace Thackeray, George Eliot, Henry James, James Joyce, and James Baldwin) better known for their narrative explorations of domestic and psychological interiors, tracing the novelistic aftermath of these failed theatrical projects to claim that these writers’ pioneering narrative techniques for representing interiority grew out of a frustrated appetite for collectivity. Kurnick argues that the novel, frequently taken as a proponent of inwardness, in fact prompts us to public ways of imagining the psyche, intimacy, and sexuality.
In addition to his research on the Victorian and modernist novel, Professor Kurnick has worked on modern Latin American fiction. He has published essays on the contemporary writers César Aira and Roberto Bolaño and translated Julio Cortázar’s 1975 novella Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires (Semiotext[e], 2014). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in boundary 2, ELH, PMLA, Raritan, Victorian Studies, NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Victorian Literature and Culture, The Henry James Review, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 3: 1820-1880, Literature Compass, and Public Books.
Murray Hall, Room 205A, College Ave Campus
- The Nineteenth-Century British Novel
- Genres of the City
- Victorian Literature and Culture
- Promiscuity and Fidelity in the Novel
- Thinking Sexuality: Queer Theories
- The Uses of History in Queer Culture
- Principles of Literary Study: Introduction to Narrative
- The Realist Novel in Nineteenth-Century Europe
- Introduction to Science Fiction
- The Social Imagination of the Nineteenth-Century Novel
- George Eliot
- The Novel and Totality
- Backgrounds to Contemporary Theory and Historical Method
- Henry James
- Queer Theory (Literary Critics and Others)
- Empty Houses short-listed for Modernist Studies Association book prize, 2013.
- Empty Houses co-winner of Sonia Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian Studies, Northeast Victorian Studies Association, 2012.
- Margaret Bundy Scott Visiting Professor, Williams College Department of English. Fall 2013.
- Faculty Fellow, “Formalisms," Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University, 2012-13.
- Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence, 2012.
- Faculty Fellow, “New Media Literacies,” Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers, 2008-09.
- Columbia Society of Fellows, 2006-07.
- Leon Edel Prize for best essay on Henry James by a beginning scholar, 2005.
- W.M. Keck Foundation Fellowship, Huntington Library, Pasadena, 2005.
- Modern Language Association
- North American Victorian Studies Association
- Northeast Victorian Studies Association
- Society for the Study of Narrative Literature
- American Literature Association
- Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies
- Henry James Society
- American Comparative Literature Association
- Latin American Studies Association
- "A Few Lies: Queer Theory and Our Method Melodramas"
ELH 87.2 (Summer 2020): 349-374
- "Books and Abandonment"
Public Books (May 2020) (Review of Fernanda Melchor's Hurricane Season)
- "Calculus and Context"
Poetics Today 41.1 (March 2020). (Review of Andrea K. Henderson's Algebraic Art: Mathematical Formalism and Victorian Culture)
in The Cambridge Companion to Narrative Theory, ed. Matthew Garrett (2018)
- “Is there a Gay Literature of Poverty?”
Politics/Letters (March 2018)
- "More Talk: A Response"
ASAP/J: the online platform for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (July 2017)
- "Ferrante, in History"
Public Books (December 2015)
- "Comparison, Allegory, and the Address of 'Global' Realism (The Part About Bolaño)"
boundary 2 42.2 (May 2015): 105-134.
- “Numberiness” (A response to Eric Bulson’s “Ulysses by Numbers”)
Representations website (January 2015)
- “The Essential Gratuitousness of César Aira”
Public Books (November 2014).
- “Stages: Theater and the Politics of Style in Great Expectations”
Critical Quarterly 55.1 (April 2013).
- "Bolaño to Come"
Public Books (September 2012).
- “Unspeakable George Eliot”
Victorian Literature and Culture 38.2 (September 2010): 489-509.
- “Carnal Ironies”
Raritan 29.4 (Spring 2010): 109-123.
- “Embarrassment and the Forms of Redemption”
PMLA 125.2 (April 2010): 398-403
- “Abstraction and the Subject of Novel-Reading: Drifting Through Romola”
NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 42.3 (Fall 2009): 490-496.
- "The Uses of Abjection"
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 15.2 (Spring 2009). (Review of David M. Halperin's What Do Gay Men Want?)
- "The Novel (in Theory)"
Literature Compass 5 (November 2008): 228-243.
- “What Does Jamesian Style Want?"
Henry James Review 28.3 (Fall 2007): 213-222.
- “An Erotics of Detachment: Middlemarch and Novel-Reading as Critical Practice”
ELH: English Literary History 74.3 (Fall 2007): 583-608.
- “Empty Houses: Thackeray’s Theater of Interiority”
Victorian Studies 48.2 (Winter 2006): 257-267.
- “‘Horrible Impossible’: Henry James’s Awkward Stage"
The Henry James Review 26.2 (Spring 2005): 109-129.
PhD, Columbia University
M. Phil. Columbia University
AB, Harvard College