F-Mo, Moretti the Steady, The Literary Lab Rat, The Encyclopedist, Stanford's Favorite Radical, Bloom's Gloom
Male. It's that simple.
Sondrio, Italy—a beautiful little town nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps. Bellissima.
Work & Education
My first gig was at Columbia University, where I taught comparative literature. I then set out for the territories—the West Coast, that is—where I got a plum appointment as the Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor in the Humanities at Stanford. That's a pretty rock 'n' roll position. Here's my department page. Sure, I teach important and even really esoteric courses, but I also run the Stanford Literary Lab. I have earned a raft of honors like endowed lectures and literary critic awards.
Because I'm still alive, you're not going to find a bunch of biographical information about me floating around. Plus, I'm busy talking about my work, not myself. But here's what I will tell you: I got my Ph.D. from the University of Rome. I know it's not Harvard, but look how much that mattered.
Power to the people! Oh, hello there—I'm just pumping my fist as I head over to hang with my homies at the monthly Retort meeting. At Retort, we talk about everything from the cover of W magazine, to outrage over the U.S.'s compulsive need to invade other countries, to the atrocities of capitalism. Yeah, we're a pretty wide-ranging group.
You may have gleaned by now that I'm a Marxist, and my politics come out big time in my literary criticism—especially my early stuff. In one of my aptly named critical works (The Bourgeois: Between History and Literature), I trawl through a bunch of 19th-century European novels for certain signal words ("useful," "comfort," "serious," "influence," "efficiency," and so forth) that describe the bourgeois class—or in non-Marxist terms, "the middle class."
Each word provides a big wide window into the era's bourgeois world. Basically, each word tells us what those people valued most: domestic comfort, relaxation, a life of leisure, social mobility, and accessories that signal money—like the Tory Burch bag today. Yeah, that's the kind of conspicuous consumption that makes a Marxist's skin crawl.
I'm going to treat this one as a yes or no question and just go ahead and say no. I'm a Marxist, for crying out loud. (You know—religion is the opiate of the masses, and all that jazz.) I do briefly touch on issues of religion in my criticism of that horror classic Dracula, but just as an excuse to talk about the unholy alliance of money and religion that started to crop up in the 19th century. Now we have mega-churches. Thanks a lot, 19th century.
Tons of reading Accepting the status quo Close reading (zzzzz) Wasting time All that palaver about aesthetics The middle class Traditional literary scholarship (zzzzz) Technology Binaries and binary thinking Individualism (vs. the collective)
Making crazy lines in all directions on butcher paper Connecting the dots Working in groups Going to high-octane Marxist meetings Schematizing Skimming and/or speed reading Adding things up Taking a nap while my computer collects data from 2,000 novels Transforming great works of literature into networks Quantifying stuff and things Taxonomizing (if that's a word) Being revolutionary
American Academy of Arts and Sciences (for reals) The Antinomians Retort Literary Critics Who Speak with a Smooth Italian Cadence Literary Geographers The Cartography Cartel Maverick Scholars Unite Literary Labrats Long Distance Runners and Readers Support Group CACR-Critics Against Close Reading