Jeffrey Lawrence
Associate Director of Undergraduate Program
Associate Professor of English
(848) 932-7371

20th- and 21st-century American literature and culture, Latin American/Hemispheric Studies

Jeffrey Lawrence’s 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.

Murray Hall, Room 025, College Ave Campus

Undergraduate Office
  • American Postmodernism: Fiction, Theory and Film
  • Social Movements and American Literature after 1945
  • Roberto Bolaño and the Genres of the Americas
  • Culture in Movement: Post-45 Literature and Culture
  • International Association of Inter-American Studies prize for the best dissertation in Inter-American Studies for 2013/4.
  • Princeton Institute for International Relations Dissertation Fellowship (2012-3)
  • Modern Language Association
  • Modernist Studies Association
  • Society for U.S. Intellectual History
  • Latin American Studies Association
  • Katherine Anne Porter Society
  • Percival Everett International Society
  • "Why She Wrote about Mexico: Katherine Anne Porter and the Literature of Experience." Twentieth-Century Literature, forthcoming 2017.
  • “‘I Read Even the Scraps of Paper I Find on the Street:’ A Thesis on the Contemporary Literatures of the Americas.” American Literary History 26.3 (2014): 536-558.
  • “The International Roots of the 99%,” IC Scientific Journal of Information and Communication, 10 (2013): 53-72.
  • “El viajero y el lector: Waldo Frank, Jorge Luis Borges, y la disputa por la América whitmaniana,” Pensamiento de los confines30 (Summer 2013): 204-214.
  • “An American History of Infamy,” Variaciones Borges 31.1 (2011), 160-179.

PhD Comparative Literature, Princeton University, 2014.
BA Spanish, Amherst College, 2007.