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Meet John Havard, English

by Mohamed Sesay

John Havard

John Havard, an assistant professor of English, is interested in how authors conceive and interact with politics and political divides.

“My dissertation was on late 18th-century and Romantic-Period literature and partisan politics,” he said. “I look in particular at 18th-century authors Laurence Sterne and Samuel Johnson and two Romantic Period authors, Maria Edgeworth and Lord Byron.”

Havard, who is originally from Northern England, earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Leeds in his hometown before coming to the United States to earn his master’s and doctorate degrees.

“I first came to the States to study at the University of Virginia, where I had a teaching fellowship through the British Association for American Studies,” he said. “I loved my experience teaching and studying there for two years, and after talking to my professors in Virginia I applied to the University of Chicago’s PhD program.”

His work recently allowed him to attend and present papers at the Laurence Sterne Tercentenary and the International Byron Conference in London during the summer of 2013. While he continues to research these authors, Havard is beginning to explore new terrain in his scholarly work.

“I’m starting to do some work in the transatlantic arena,” he said. “I recently gave a paper on the reception of Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in the British Atlantic world, and how it traveled to colonial Virginia and intersected with debates around indebtedness, captivity and liberty.”

Havard is also preparing a paper on the location of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" between East and West for a future conference: “I’m looking at questions of freedom, autonomy and slavery as they manifest themselves in the novel.”

In Harpur College, Havard is teaching British Literature II and Transnational Fictions of the 18th Century during the spring semester. He enjoys drawing connections between literary studies, political thought, and ideas that inform the present, and he encourages students to do the same.

“I give brief thought exercises in the beginning of class so my students can reflect on their reading experience and develop their own responses about the text,” he said.

Havard said he is looking forward to the discussions he will have with Harpur students.

“My 'Transnational Fictions' course looks at how authors imagine crossings between nations, including the Americas and wider Atlantic world,” he said. “I’ll be asking students how narratives of autonomy and individuality in the period are complicated and challenged by people who were not fully in control of their movements.”

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Last Updated: 12/10/14