Berkeley English Lecturers and Postdocs

Joel Childers

Joel Childers


Professional Statement

I am lecturer in the Departments of Comparative Literature and English at UC Berkeley, and a volunteer instructor at Mount Tamalpais College, formerly the Prison University Project, at San Quentin State Prison. 

I received my PhD in English Literature from Johns Hopkins in 2021, where I wrote the dissertation that has become my current book project, Feeling History: Poetry and the Rise of the Human Sciences. This book is a study in the intimacies of literary criticism and historical thought, both as they became the object of conscious theoretical reflection among critics of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and—following these critics—as they shape many of today’s most widely shared reading practices. 

As a scholar, my specialization is in Romantic literature and intellectual culture, especially poetry, the human sciences, and philosophies of history. I study these practices alongside the incipient or radically shifting concepts of race, ethnicity, and “world religion” throughout this period, most often in the context of Britain’s empire in the Americas and South Asia. However, the Romantic period’s fascination with history and historical literary forms allows me to do research into earlier periods, as well—from allegory in Greek and Indian antiquity to romance in the Middle Ages. I consider a broad awareness of pre- and early modern literary history a necessary component of Romantic scholarship. 

As a teacher, my courses are wide-ranging, though usually with a focus on Romanticism. I have taught upper-division courses on the French, Haitian, and Industrial Revolutions; Romantic literature and the new sciences; as well as lower-division courses on political cinema, romantic supernaturalism, and modernist short fiction. I also have also taught public facing courses on how to read poetry and, at San Quentin, on “lyric poetry and society.” 

An article drawn from my book project can be found in New Literary History 52.1, and an earlier essay on phenomenologies of love in Proust and Sartre can be found in Philosophy and Literature 37.2.

Selected Publications and Papers Delivered

"The Romance of Criticism," New Literary History 52.1 

"Proust, Sartre, and the Idea of Love," Philosophy and Literature 37.2

English Department Classes