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Scholarly Interest Report
Scott Steven Derrick
Associate Professor
Associate Professor of English
  • B.A. (1975) Albright College
  • M.A.T. (1978) The University of Chicago
  • Ph.D. (1987) The University of Pennsylvania
Primary Department
   Department of English
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Department Affiliations
  • Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
    Research Areas
     Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature, popular culture and music, psychoanalysis, literary theory gender and sexuality studies.
    Aesthetics and Waste in History and in Postmodern Culture
     In this project I examine the problem of "waste" in literature and in wider areas of culture. As John Guillory has remarked, if there has always been beauty, there hasn't always been "aesthetics," a discourse which emerges with capitalism. My thesis, simplified here for the sake of brevity, is that the perfect work of art (James's The Golden Bowl will do for an example) is imagined to be one in which every thing counts: there is no waste. Popular culture, on the other hand, is commonly imagined to be nothing but waste, pulp, or trash. The centrality of waste in judgments of art, I argue, mirrors waste as a crisis issue for capitalism in general. Art, in this context, serves as a sign of utopian capitalism utopia, but only if one clings to the idealized text itself.
    Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, and the Problem of Time
     In this essay, I explore how time structures race, sexuality, and writing in this important early modernist novel.
    Rethinking the professional imaginary
     In general, I am interested in the theoretical assumptions that have for much of the twentieth century shaped literary critical practic, and whether these assumptions are in fact necessary. The need for a new imaginary proceeds from an analysis of the current state of the profession and its politics.
    Productivity, Time, and the Corporate University
     I argue, against Bill Readings, that visible "productivity" rather than "excellence" organizes the contemporary corporate university.
    Professional Narratives, Displacement and Justice
     This essay will be presented as part of a panel on narrative and ethics at the 2005 Narrative Conference
    Critical Revisitations
     This is a book project that will contain many of the research interests listed above. I am interested inthe extent to which this recent history reflects choices without foundations that have closed down avenues of thought and action; I am interested in the problems of self-interest, displacement, and justice in the contemporary academy; and I am interest in the problem of time, both philosophically and practically as a locus for constructive social thinking and action.
    Poetry, Writing Poems, and Cultural Criticism
     I am interested in poetry itself as a locus for critical and theoretical expression, an interest tied to my renewed interest in individualism as a category. It is, it seems to me, poets and novelists themselves who are doing the most important explorations of contemporary problems such as hybridity.
    Edith Wharton and the Uses of Literature
     I am interested in Wharton's early works culminating with Ethan Frome and Summer, how these works have been regarded historically by critics, how they reflect her own critical writing, and what they suggest about the politics of literary interpretation. I am interested in how one situates the "politics" of a literary text in light of the indeterminancy of reading.
    Aesthetics and Waste in Postmodern Culture
     I am interested in the problem of "waste" or excrement in human existence, and interested in its relations to aesthetic theory and ideas of the work of art as a totality, particularly in the aesthetics of a figure such as Henry James, but in modernist literature in general.
    Individualism, Emerson, and postmodern difference
     I have returned to Saussere's idea that language operates in terms of negative distinctions without positive contents. I am interested in the relation of this figuration of language to ideas of "difference" that have haunted the last thirty years of cultural criticism, whether this haunting is necessary, and what it might mean, in light of this haunting, to return to Emerson's always canny individualism.
    Teaching Areas
     Nineteenth- and twentieth-century US literature and culture, literary theory, popular culture and music culture, Century U.S. Literature, twentieth-century U.S. literature, literary theory, gender and sexuality.
    Selected Publications

    Scott S. Derrick "Monumental Anxieties: Homoerotic Desire and Feminine Influence in 19th-Century U.S. Literature." : 259.

     Book chapters

    ""Gender in the Jungle"." The Jungle: A Norton Critical Edition (2003) : 497-502.


    Scott S. Derrick "Book Review, Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: The Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America, by Terence Whalen.." The Journal of Southern History, LXVII (August, 2001)


    "Review of Edgar Allan Poe and the Masses: The Political Economy of Literature in Antebellum America, by Terence Whalen.." The Journal of Southern History (2000)

     Conference Paper

    ""Reading as a Strange Loop: Recursiveness, Interpretation, and the Place of Literary Studies in the Academy,"  New Diurections in the Humanities: From Digital Humanities to a Humanities of the Digital: University of British Columbia  ." (June 16, 2015)


    Chair of panel..  "The Place of Aesthetics in Western Literature.." Western Literature Association, Houston, Texas. (October 30, 2003)


    ""Complex Politics and the Politics of Starvation in U.S. Irish Immigration: A Response to Joe Roach."." Nineteenth-Century Geographies, Rice University. (March, 1998)


    ""Resistance, Literary Value, and the Uncanny in the Fiction of Stephen Crane."." American Literature Association Conference, San Diego, California. (May, 1998)


    "Queering the Pleistoscene, 2012 International Conference on Narrative, March, 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada." (March, 2012)


    ""A Fallacy Runs Through It: Fishing, Nature and the Uncanny in Maclean's A River Runs Through It.." Western Literature Association, Big Sky, Montana. (Thursday, September 30)


    ""Railroads, Resistance, Racism, and Global Capitalism in Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton's The Squatter and the Don and Frank Norris's The Octopus." American Literature Association, Long Beach, California. (May, 2002)

     Session Chair

    Roundtable:  Gender, Criticism, and Performance,  ASAP/6 Research Symposium, Modern and Postmodern Arts: China and the World, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 27-29 June 2014. 

    Supervised Theses & Dissertations
     Lauri Coulombe, Ph.D. Mirrors, Novels, and Subjectivity in 19th Century U.S. Literature. (2004) (Thesis Director)

     Alison Flethcer, Ph.D. "Trauma, Literature, and Feminism in 20th Century U.S. Literature. (2004) (Thesis Co-Director)

     Lauri Coulombe, Material Objects and Ipseity in 19th Century U.S. Literature. (2006) (Thesis Director)

     Marie Parks, B.A. Shades of White on San Juan Hill: Nation-Race in Writing of Richard Harding Davis and Finley Peter Dunne. (2007) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Lauri Coulombe, Ph.D. Material Objects and Ipseity in 19th Century U.S. Literature. (2007) (Thesis Director)

     Matt Walkder , PH.D Carnivals of the Grotesque and Abject: Queer Children in the Literature of the Southern Renaissance.. (2013) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Matt Walker, Ph.D Carnivals of the Grotesque and Abject: Queer Children in the Literature of the Southern Renaissance.. (2013) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Kim Macellaro , PH.D Reification and Early Twentieth Century US Novels . (2013) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Kimberly Macellaro, PHD. "The Dialectics of Form: Reification and Genre in Erly Twentieth-Century American Literature . (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Kim Macellaro, Ph.D. Reification and Early Twentieth-Century US Literature. (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Matt Walker, Ph.D. Carnivals of the Grotesque and Abject: Queer Children in the Literature of the Southern Renaissance.. (2015) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Kim Macallero , Ph.D. Reification, Masculinity, and Twentieth-Century American Literature . (2016) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Syan Kehoe, PH.D. “Chosen Countries: Utopian Fiction and Political Fantasy in American Literature from the Gilded Age Through the Progressive Era.” . (2016) (Thesis Director)

     Matt Walker , Ph.D. Carnivals of the Grotesque: Queer Children and Literature of the Southern Renaissance . (2016) (Thesis Committee Member)

     Paul Case, Ph.D. A Useable Past": Heterotopia and the Southern Modernism of William Faulkner and James Agee. . (2016) (Thesis Director)

     Matt Walker, PH.D. Queer Mondernism: DeviantQueer Modernism: Gender and Sexuality in the Literature of the American South from 1930-1960. (2016) (Thesis Director)

     Josh Redwine, SWGS 498 Senior Thesis--Contemporary Gay Cinema. (Thesis Co-Director)