Nancy Yousef
Associate Director of Graduate Program (Fall 2021)
Professor of English
Romantic, Theory

Literature and Philosophy, Romantic Poetry and Poetics, Affect, Ethics, Psychoanalysis, Theory and Aesthetics of the Everyday

Professor Yousef specializes in literature and philosophy of the Romantic era. Her research and teaching is centered in British and European Romanticism, but also reaches to eighteenth century sources and extends forward into the later nineteenth-century. She is especially interested in exploring the intersections between philosophical writing and literary form, the relationship between aesthetics, ethics, and the representation of emotions. She is the author of two books, Isolated Cases (Cornell UP, 2004) and Romantic Intimacy (Stanford UP, 2013). The first addresses the conceptual contradictions and psychic longings and anxieties associated with shifting ideas of autonomy in Enlightenment philosophy and Romantic literature. The second book addresses the shifting relationship between ethics and aesthetics as eighteenth century theories of sympathy give way to accounts of elusive and non-reciprocal forms of emotional proximity. Her essays on Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, and Dickens have appeared in venues including ELH, MLQ, European Romantic Review and the Journal of the History of Ideas. Professor Yousef is currently working on a third book (tentatively entitled The Aesthetic Commonplace) on the aesthetics of the ordinary in romanticism and contemporary theories of the everyday.

Murray Hall, Room 050, College Ave Campus

Isolated Cases:

The Anxieties of Autonomy in Enlightenment Philosophy and Romantic Literature

(Cornell UP, 2004)

Selected Articles:

            “’Emotions that Reason deepens’: Second Thoughts about Affect,” Nineteenth Century   Gender Studies 11: 3 (Winter 2015).


“Feeling for Philosophy: Shaftesbury and the Limits of Sentimental Certainty,” ELH 78: 3 (2011).

“Phenomenal Beauty: Rousseau in Venice” in Romanticism and the City, ed. Larry Peer. 

New York: Palgrave, 2010.

“Romanticism, Psychoanalysis and the Interpretation of Silence,” European Romantic Review, 21: 5 (2010).

* Winner of Keats-Shelley Association Essay Prize, 2010.

“The Poverty of Charity: Dickensian Sympathy” in Contemporary Dickens, eds. Eileen Gillooly and Deirdre David.  Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2009. 

“Can Julie Be Trusted?  Rousseau and the Crisis of Constancy in Eighteenth Century Philosophy” in Theory and Practice in the Eighteenth Century: Writing between Philosophy and Literature, eds. Alexander Dick and Christina Lupton.  London : Pickering & Chatto, 2008. 

“Wordsworth, Sentimentalism, and the Defiance of Sympathy,” European Romantic Review 17:2 (2006): 205-215.


“The Monster in a Dark Room: Frankenstein, Feminism, and Philosophy,” Modern Language Quarterly (MLQ) (June 2002)


“Savage or Solitary?: The Wild Child and Rousseau’s Man of Nature,” Journal of the History of Ideas (April 2001): 245-263.

“Natural Man as Imaginary Animal in Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality,” Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, 27: 3 (2000): 205-231.

“Wollstonecraft, Rousseau and the Revision of Romantic Subjectivity,” Studies in Romanticism, 38:4 (1999): 537-557.

“‘Destitute of frank communicativeness’: Reading the Reserve of Mill's Autobiography,” Prose Studies, 21:1 (1998): 51-73.

Ph. D. Columbia
A. B. Harvard