John L. Bryant
Professor of English
Degrees: PHD, 1975, Univ Chicago; AM, 1972, Univ Chicago; AB, 1971, Univ Chicago
I received my college and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago and am a full professor in Hofstra’s English department. My principal research focus is on nineteenth-century American literature and culture, in particular the works of Herman Melville but also, transcendentalism, Emerson, Poe, and antebellum African American writing. I also specialize in textual studies and digital scholarship, paying special attention to how writers and readers revise texts—making them into what I call “fluid texts”—and how we might use online technology to show users how fluid texts evolve. I have published several books and articles, including Melville and Repose (Oxford), The Fluid Text (Michigan), Melville Unfolding (Michigan), and the Longman Critical Edition of Moby-Dick. I am also the editor of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies and of the Melville Electronic Library. As a scholar-teacher, I look for ways to help students in coming to terms with our culture’s longstanding issues: race, sexuality, freedom, and identity in a conflicted democracy. I feel students are readers and thinkers seeking to learn more than they might expect about a literary text, and I engage classes in a process of discovery through discussion and writing. I work hard in the classroom so that students can feel safe in expressing themselves about ideas and what writers (of any era) do to make themselves heard. I listen as students tackle problems that together we have found in a piece of writing: a letter, document, sermon, essay, poem, story, or novel. I also feel that a student’s writing is a crucial form of self-discovery, critical thinking, and growth; and I help students find arguments and a voice in their own writing. I teach courses on Poe and Melville, Moby-Dick, the American Renaissance, early American literature (1500-1865), and literary research methods.