Department of English and Comparative Literature
Department Tour
Home > People > Faculty > Faculty Profile
Brook Thomas
Chancellor's Professor, English

PH.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A., Stanford University
Research Interests:
US Literature and Culture; Law and Literature; Literature and History
Academic Awards:
Von Humboldt Fellow; Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow; ACLS Fellowship; NEH Fellowship; School of Humanities Distinguished Teaching Award; Celebration of Teaching Award, Humanities
Research Summary:
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.
Professional Associations
Herman Melville Society
Law, Humanities and Culture Association
Modern Language Association
US Capitol Historical Society
Selected Publications:
  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)
  Edited Books
  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 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.
  Journal Articles, Book Chapters, etc.
  "(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.
  "Stigmas, Badges, and Brands: Discriminating Marks in Legal History." History, Memory, and the Law. (1999)

Contact Information

     Campus Address
     Brook Thomas
University of California, Irvine
162 Murray Krieger Hall
Irvine, CA 92697-2650
Mail Code: 2650
     Campus phone: (949) 824-5881
     Campus phone: (949) 824-2916
Date last modified: 12/15/2016

Department of English and Comparative Literature
435 Humanities Instructional Building
Irvine, CA 92697-2650
(949) 824-6712
fax: (949) 824-2916

Copyright ©2002 Regents of the University of California