• Faculty

  • Alexandra Chasin

    Professor of Literary Studies


    Office Location
    B - 65 West 11th Street

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    Alexandra Chasin


    My interest, in teaching and in research, is to make Literary Studies itself an object of study. Historically a bastion of supremacist and exclusionary thought and practice, Literary Studies luckily offers tools for its own deconstruction. The practice of meta-literary studies engages: questions of epistemology, in particular, what counts as scholarly knowledge; disciplinary protocols and interdisciplinary alternatives; canon building and critiques of canons and canonization; the history and present of literary taste-making, and the pathways of cultural taste more broadly; deep exploration of Western literary values such as originality, genius, “timelessness,” and aesthetic quality. Maybe most importantly, I study how power and identity work through academic institutions, publishing, and literary channels of literary distribution – how institutional hierarchies and values establish and preserve inequality along lines of race, gender, class, sexuality, national origin, linguistic origin, and more. My interest is, at root, in how social values are expressed as literary values. The study is meaningful with respect to other cultural domains too, like film, music, “fine” arts, and more.

    I’m also interested in very creative nonfiction – or ways of researching and representing the world that comment on and even reject disciplinary modes, and move beyond personal subjectivity as the logical substrate of such representations. How do artists use – and manipulate – documents, archives, found text, inherited symbolism – in order to present an analysis of social phenomena... in order to move or persuade readers/viewers/listeners to understand old things in a new way, to change minds, to bring just futures into being?

    Degrees Held

    MFA, Fiction Writing, Vermont College 2002
    PhD, Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University, 1993
    BA, European Cultural Studies, Brandeis University, 1984

    Professional Affiliation

    Director, Writing On It All, a public/participatory writing project that takes place on Governors Island every June.

    See www.writingonitall.com

    Recent Publications

    Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs
        University of Chicago Press, 2016
    Brief. Jaded Ibis Press, 2012 [app/novel]
    Kissed By. Fiction Collective 2, 2007
    Selling Out: The Lesbian and Gay Movement Goes to Market. St. Martin's, 2000

    Please see www.alexandrachasin.us for more information

    Research Interests

    Experimental fiction; elements of form; writing from and about history; gender, race, sexuality studies; popular culture; genre; the social practices of literature; book arts

    Awards And Honors

    • 2016 New York Foundation for the Arts, for Writing On It All
    • 2013-14 Fellow, Leon Levy Center for Biography, CUNY
    • 2012 New York Fundation for the Arts, Fiction Fellowship
    • 2012 MacDowell, Residency
    • 2011 Yaddo, Residency

    Future Courses

    Ind Senior Project
    LLSW 4990, Spring 2025

    Independent Study
    LLSW 3950, Fall 2024, Spring 2025

    Transcending Disciplines
    UTNS 5520, Spring 2025

    Past Courses

    Ind Senior Project
    LLSW 4990, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

    Independent Study
    LLSW 3950, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

    The Social Life of Books
    LLSW 3120, Fall 2023

    Transcending Disciplines
    UTNS 5520, Spring 2024

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