Mitchell Breitwieser

Mitchell Breitwieser

Professor, Daniel E. Koshland, Jr. Chancellor's Distinguished Chair in Writing
Wheeler Hall, room 420

Professional Statement

B.A. in English, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1975.

Ph.D., State University of New York, Buffalo, 1979.

Faculty, UC-Berkeley, English, since July, 1979.




Title Fields
National Melancholy: Mourning and Opportunity in Classic American Literature National Melancholy: Mourning and Opportunity in Classic American Literature
In National Melancholy, Breitwieser offers close readings of important American writers (Anne Bradstreet, Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Sarah Orne Jewett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Jack Kerouac) who were struggling to understand mourning, both in their own experience and in the abstract. He draws attention to their inquiries into the way mourning gets blocked or diverted, es....

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

Publications and work in progress:


  1. Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin: The Price of Representative Personal­ity (Cambridge University Press Studies in American Litera­ture and Culture, 1984), 325 pages.
  2. American Puritanism and the Defense of Mourning: Religion, Grief and Eth­nology in Mary White Rowlandson's Captivity Narrative (Madison: The Uni­versity of Wisconsin Press, 1990) 223 pages.
  3. National Melancholy: Mourning and Opportunity in Classic American Literature, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 322 pages.
  4. "The Life and Times of Harry Lime: Disappointment and the Aftermath of World War II in Graham Greene's  The Third Man," ms. completed in rough draft, approx. 700 pages in typescript.

Articles and Reviews (in order of composition):


  1. "Cotton Mather's Crazed Wife," Glyph: Johns Hopkins Textual Stud­ies #5 (Summer, 1979), pp. 88-113.
  2. "Cotton Mather's Pharmacy," Early American Literature XVI, # 1 (Spring, 1981), pp. 42-9.
  3. "Thoreau and the Wrecks on Cape Cod," Studies in Romanticism 20, #1 (Spring, 1981), pp. 3-20.
  4. "False Sympathy in Melville's Typee," American Quarterly 34, # 4 (Fall, 1982), pp. 396-417.
  5. Review of Annette Kolodny, The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Ex­peri­ence of the American Frontier, 1630-1860, in Criticism.
  6. "Who Speaks in Whitman's Poems?" The Bucknell Review XVIII, #1 (1983), pp. 121-43.
  7. "Jefferson's Prospect," Prospects: An Annual Journal of American Cul­tural Studies 10(1985), pp.
  8. "Concluding Remarks," Politics as Art, Art as Politics: Literature of the Early Republic, spe­cial issue of Early American Literature 22, #2 (Fall, 1987), pp. 213-9.
  9. Review of Albert Furtwangler, American Silhouettes: Rhetorical Iden­tities of the Founders, in Eighteenth Centuries Studies (Summer, 1988), pp. 547-51.
  10. Review of Ormond Seavey, Becoming Benjamin Franklin: The Au­tobi­ography and the Life, in William and Mary Quarterly (Oct., 1989), pp. 816-819.
  11. "Early American Antigone," in Joseph Kronick and Bainard Cowan, eds., Theo­rizing American Literature: Hegel, the Sign, and History (Louisiana State Uni­versity Press, 1991), pp. 125-62.
  12. "The Great Gatsby: Grief, Jazz and the Eye-Witness," Arizona Quar­terly vol. 47, #3 (Autumn, 1991), pp. 17-70. (excerpted in Harold Bloom, ed., F. Scott Fitzgerald: Comprehensive Research and Study Guide (Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000), pp. 38-40.)
  13. "Afterthoughts," invited commentary on "The New Eighteenth Cen­tury," a special issue of American Literary History, vol. 5, #3 (Fall, 1993), pp. 588-94.
  14. "False Sympathy in Melville's Typee," (rewritten ver­sion of #4 above), in Myra Jehlen, ed.,Herman Melville: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1994), pp. 15-26.
  15. "The Vagaries of Historical Reading," invited essay review of Sac­van Bercovitch, The Cambridge History of American Literature, vol. 1, Modern Language Quarterly vol 56, #2(June, 1995) pp.197-207.
  16. “Fitzgerald, Kerouac, and the Problem of Inherited Mourning,” Peter Homans, ed., in Symbolic Loss: The Ambiguity of Mourning and Memory at Century’s End (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000), pp. 43-61.
  17. “Jazz Fractures: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Epochal Representation,” American Literary History, vol. 12, # 3 (Fall, 2000), pp. 359-82. Reprinted in Linda Pavlovski, ed., Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: Criticism of the Works of Novelists, Poets, Playwrights, Short Story Writers, and Other Creative Writers Who Lived between 1900 and 1999, from the First Critical Appraisals to Current Evaluations, vol. 157 (New York: Thomson Gale, 2005), pp. 215-25.
  18. “Materializing Calloway: The Sorrows of Occupation in Graham Greene’s The Third Man,” The Hopkins Review (new series), vol. 1, #3 (Summer, 2008), pp. 437-68.
  19. “Pacific Speculations: Moby-Dick and Mana,” Arizona Quarterly, vol. 67, #1 (Spring, 2011), pp.1-46.
  20. Review essay, David Wyatt, Secret Histories: Reading Twentieth Century American Literature, The Hopkins Review (new series), vol. 4, #4 (Fall, 2011), pp. 598-602.
  21. "The Third Man: Zone/ Frontier; Gangster Films and Westerns," The Hopkins Review(new series), vol. 5, #1 (Winter, 2012), pp. 13-47.
  22. Review essay, Morris Dickstein, Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, The Hopkins Review(new series),vol.  5, #2, (Spring 2012)(New Series), pp. 290-295.
  23. “All on an American Table: Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana,” American Literary History, (Spring, 2013), pp. 2-25.
  24. “Hawthorne: Mortmain,” Arizona Quarterly, vol. 71, #3 (Autumn, 2015), pp. 27-57.
  25. Review of Christopher N. Phillips, Epic in American Culture: Settlement to Reconstruction, Early American Literature, vol. 49, #3 (2014), pp. 787-791.

Current Research

I am currently completing (I hope) a book to be entitled Presence, Damage, and the Hope for Repair: A Reading of Walden.

Recent English Courses Taught

Spring, 2019
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/8 Research Seminar: Edgar Allan Poe American Literature
Research Seminars
190/11 Research Seminar: Willa Cather Novel
Research Seminars
Fall, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
130B/1 American Literature: 1800-1865 American Literature
165/5 Special Topics: Reading Walden With Care American Literature
Special Topics
Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
165/1 Special Topics: H.P. Lovecraft in His Tradition Special Topics
190/4 Research Seminar: Reading Walden Carefully American Literature
Research Seminars
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
130B/1 American Literature: 1800-1865 American Literature
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
24/3 Freshman Seminar: Reading Walden Carefully Freshman Seminars
Summer, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
N173/1 The Language and Literature of Films: The Hollywood Western, 1940-1963 Film
Special Topics

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