Catherine Gallagher

Catherine Gallagher

Former Ida May and William J Eggers, Jr., Chair in English
by appointment

Professional Statement

Catherine Gallagher is the Emerita Eggers Professor of English Literature, and she taught at Berkeley from 1980 until her retirement in 2012. Her teaching and research focus on the British novel and cultural history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She taught courses on the history of the British novel, the historiography and theory of the novel, alternate-history narratives, and various other topics in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. She received NEH, ACLS, and Guggenheim fellowships and has been a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the National Humanities Center, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the American Academy in Berlin. In 2002, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as co-chair of the editorial board of the journal Representations and as the Chair of the English Department. She has served as a Senior Fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory, on the Advisory Board of the Stanford Humanities Center, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Humanities Center. Her books include two edited volumes, The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century (with Thomas Laqueur); and the Bedford Cultural Edition of Aphra Behn's Oroonoko: or, The Royal Slave. And she has authored five works of literary history and criticism. Her 1994 book, Nobody's Story, won the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize for an outstanding literary study, and the American Philosophical Society awarded her 2018 book, Telling It Like It Wasn't: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Literature, the Jaques Barzun Prize for the year's best book in cultural history. 



Title Fields
Telling It Like It Wasn't: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Literature Telling It Like It Wasn't: The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Literature
Inventing counterfactual histories is a common pastime of modern-day historians, both amateur and professional. We speculate about an America ruled by Jefferson Davis, a Europe that never threw off Hitler, or a second term for JFK. This book locates the origins of contemporary counterfactual history in eighteenth-century Europe, where the idea of other possible historical worlds first took hold in....
The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel
The Body Economic revises the intellectual history of nineteenth-century Britain by demonstrating that political economists and the writers who often presented themselves as their literary antagonists actually held most of their basic social assumptions in common. Catherine Gallagher demonstrates that political economists and their Romantic and early-Victorian critics jointly relocated the idea o....
Practicing New Historicism, 2001 Practicing New Historicism, 2001
     For almost thirty years, new historicism has been a highly controversial and influential force in literary and cultural studies. In Practicing the New Historicism, two of its most distinguished practitioners reflect on its surprisingly disparate sources and far-reaching effects.      In lucid and jargon-free prose, Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt focus on five central aspects of n....
Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace Nobody's Story: The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace
Exploring the careers of five influential women writers of the Restoration and eighteenth century, Catherine Gallagher reveals the connections between the increasing prestige of female authorship, the economy of credit and debt, and the rise of the novel. The "nobodies" of her title are not ignored, silenced, or anonymous women. Instead, they are literal nobodies: the abstractions of authorial pe....

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered


Telling It Like It Wasn’t. The Counterfactual Imagination in History and Fiction. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2018.

The Body Economic. Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2006.

Practicing New Historicism. With Stephen Greenblatt. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000.

Nobody's Story. The Vanishing Acts of Women Writers in the Marketplace, 1670-1820. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction. Social Discourse and Narrative Form, 1832-67. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985

Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave, by Aphra Behn. Bedford Cultural Edition. Ed., intros, and headnotes. Bedford Books, 1999. With Simon Stern.

The Making of the Modern Body. Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century. Ed. and intro. with Thomas Laqueur. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.


“The Novel.” The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature.  Ed. Dino Franco Felluga.  Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

 “The Ends of History: Afterword.” Victorian Studies 55 (Summer 2013).  Pp. 683-691.

“Revenge History:  A Tale of Two Cities.” The Japan Branch Bulletin of the Dickens Fellowship 35 (2013). Pp. 2-22. 

"What Would Napoleon Do?  Historical, Fictional, and Counterfactual Characters." New Literary History (Fall 2011), 42: 315-336. 

“Time and the Novel.” The Encyclopedia of the Novel, ii. Ed. Peter Melville Logan. Oxford: Blackwell, 2010. Pp. 811-816.


“The Formalism of Military History.”  Representations 104 (Fall, 2008), 23-34. 

  “The Romantics and the Political Economists.” The Cambridge History of English Romantic Literature.  Ed. James Chandler.  New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008.  Pp. 71-100.

“Historical Scholarship.”  Introduction to Scholarship in Modern Languages and Literatures. Ed. Nicholls, David G..   New York:  Modern Language Association of America, 2007.  Pp. 171-194.

“Forum: Counterfactual Realities” and “When Did the Confederate States of America Free the Slaves?” Representations 98 (Spring, 2007).  Pp. 51-61.  

 “War, Counterfactual History, and Alternate-History Novels.” Field Day Review, 3 (2007).  Pp. 53-66.  

“Literary History.” Introduction to Scholarship in the Modern Languages and Literatures. Modern Language Association, 2007.  Pp. 171-194. 

“World War II As Seen From Other Worlds.”  Journal of Contemporary Thought,  (Summer, 2006):5-19. Also in Shiso [Thought] #984 (2006.4), 95-110.

“The Rise of Fictionality.” The Novel, Volume I:  History, Geography, and Culture.  Ed. Franco Moretti. Princeton:  Princeton Univ. Press, 2006.

“The Industrial Novel.”  The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature.  II. Ed. David Scott Kastan.  Oxford:  Oxford Univ. Press, 2006.  Pp. 241-3.

 “Theoretical Answers to Interdisciplinary Questions or Interdisciplinary Answers to Theoretical Questions?”  Victorian Studies, 47:2 (Winter 2005).  Pp. 253-260.

Current Research

My current work examines the connections between alternate history novels, counterfactual histories, social policies, and political debates. One part of the project examines current intersections of these four phenomena, explaining what they tell us about the state of our collective historical imagination. The second part explores the thesis that non-linear narrative forms, which develop alternate paths that a story might take, have been used since the eighteenth century, when counterfactual history was first used by military historians to help train future officers. The project is more broadly a study of how narrative form meets historical ambition, especially during periods of national redefinition.

Recent English Courses Taught

No recent courses taught.

Show ALL Courses