Brook Thomas

picture of Brook  Thomas

Chancellor's Professor, English
School of Humanities

PH.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A., Stanford University

Fax: (949) 824-2916

University of California, Irvine

Mail Code: 2650
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
US Literature and Culture; Law and Literature; Literature and History
Academic Distinctions
Von Humboldt Fellow; Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow; ACLS Fellowship; NEH Fellowship; School of Humanities Distinguished Teaching Award; Celebration of Teaching Award, Humanities
Research Abstract
I began my career as a Modernist, which led to a book called: "James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Book of Many Happy Returns." But teaching in Germany during the bi-centennial year of 1976, I became interested in 19th-century US literature, especially its relation to law and history. Aside from some publications on Shakespeare, Keats, Conrad and Joyce, most of my research since then has been on US law and literature and literature and history. I am adamantly opposed to a reflection theory of literature. But I am fascinated with how, by creating imaginary worlds, literary works make political arguments, not by arguing a thesis, but by formally placing the various forces at play in a period in different proportions and relations. "Cross-examining" the law and literature of a period allows me to explore how difficult it is to find remedies for wrongs, even those universally condemned today. Still obsessed with the era of Reconstruction, despite a recent book on the topic, I am turning my attention to "The Ambassadors of Reconstruction," which explores how its politics and memory of its politics affected US foreign policy.
Awards and Honors
C. Hugh Holman Award for THE LITERATURE OF RECONSTRUCTION. School of Humanities Distinguished Teaching Award; Celebration of Teaching Award,
Short Biography
I was born in Maryland and attended Catonsville High School, which in 1937 was sued by Thurgood Marshall of the NAACP to admit an African American student. (See Williams v. Zimmerman 1937). I graduated from Stanford University, where I was an All-American cross-country runner on a team that was second in the NCAA. After competing in the 1972 Olympic Trials Marathon, I started devoting more energy to academics.
The Literature of Reconstruction: Not in Plain Black and White. Johns Hopkins UP, 2017.
Civic Myths: A Law and Literaure Approach to Citizenship. University of North Carolina Press, 2007.
American Literary Realism and the Failed Promise of Contract. University of California, 1997
The New Historicism and Other Old-Fashioned Topics. Princeton UP, 1991
Cross-examinations of Law and Literature: Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe, and Melville. Cambridge UP, 1987
James Joyce's "Ulysess': A Book of Many Happy Returns. LSU Press, 1982.
Liberty Ltd.: Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and Literaure. Gunter Narr Verlag, 2006. (edited)
Plessy v. Ferguson: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford, 1997. (edited)
Law and Literature. Gunter Narr, 2002. (edited)
Literature and the Nation. Gunter Narr, 1998 (edited)
"(The) Nation-State Matters: Comparing Multiculturalism(s) in an Age of
Globalization," in Globalization and the Humanities, (2004)
"A Constitution Led by the Flag: The INSULAR CASES and the Metaphor of Incorporation," FOREIGN IN A DOMESTIC SENSE, eds. Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall, Duke UP, 2001: 82-103.
“The United States’ Civic Myth of the Citizen/Soldier in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction,” Amerikastudien/American Studies 65 (2020): 383-403.
"Stigmas, Badges, and Brands: Discriminating Marks in Legal History." History, Memory, and the Law. (1999)
“The Galaxy, National Literature, and Reconstruction,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 75 (2020) 50-81.
“Reconstruction Matters in the Revival of Civil War Literature,” American Literary Realism 52 (2019): 23-46.
“Reconstruction and World War I: The Birth of What Sort of Nation(s)?” ALH 30 (2018): 559-83.
“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Reconstruction,” American Literary Realism 50 (2017): 1-24.
“The Unfinished Task of Grounding Reconstruction’s Promise,” The Journal of the Civil War Era 7 (2017): 16-38.
“Sidney Lanier, the Language of Paradox, and Staging Contradictory Political Ideals in the Battle for Civil Rights and the War Against Terrorism in the Era of Reconstruction,”forthcoming in a special issue on “Poetry and American Law” for Amerikastudien/American Studies.

“Minding Previous Steps Taken,” forthcoming in New Directions in Law and Literature, eds. Bernadette Meyler and Elizabeth Anker (Oxford UP).

“Of Mules and Men, Fathers and Sons, Schools and Suffrage: African American Manhood and the Paradox of Paternalism in Law and Literature after Emancipation,” Arizona Quarterly 70 (2014): 1-27.

“Reconstructing the Limits of Schmitt’s Theory of Sovereignty: A Case for Law as Rhetoric, Not as Political Theology,” UC Irvine Law Review (2014): 239-71.

“Ruiz De Burton, Railroads, Reconstruction,” English Literary History 80 (2013): 871-95.
“The Legal and Literary Complexities of U.S. Citizenship Around 1900,” Law & Literature 22 (2010): 307-24.

“The Clansman’s Race-Based Anti-Imperialist Imperialism,” Mississippi Quarterly 62 (2010): 303-33.

“Thomas Dixon’s A Man of the People: How Lincoln Saved the Union by Cracking Down on Civil Liberties,” Law & Literature 20 (2008): 21-46.
Professional Societies
Law, Humanities and Culture Association
Modern Language Association
US Capitol Historical Society
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