Ashley Barnes

Assistant Professor

Areas of Specialization:  Nineteenth century American literature

Office:  JO 5.110
Mail Station:  JO 31
Email:  [email protected]
Phone:  972-883-3828

As a teacher and scholar, I'm most fascinated by the question of how emotion and understanding connect. Love stories are the subject of my first book in progress. I analyze the love stories that 19th-century American writers told, from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Henry James. These stories don't really follow the rom-com script that's familiar to us as TV and movie viewers. But they do tackle problems that are still familiar on the American landscape: How should you love the earthly as opposed to the divine? How can you understand someone who seems to be putting on a show? And how can you live with someone who seems like a collection of objects? Taken together, these novels offer a history of ideals of understanding and of intimacy. They make knowing and loving a given object a matter of seeing that object as shaped by its culture. That's a model of interpretation that can reshape the way readers today (professional and otherwise) think about what they're doing.

My interest in the ways that love and knowledge get tied together in interpretive practice gives me a wide range of research targets. I'm interested in theories of emotion and human interaction, from 19th-century celebrations of sympathy to postmodern accounts that suggest our emotions aren't really our own. I'm interested in the ways theologians and believers think about how to understand and love a being as radically "other" as a deity. I'm interested in how different literary styles push different emotional buttons, and how visual media use their own particular devices to highlight the trickiness of getting to know other people.

As a humanities person, I suffer from a little bit of science envy, and I deal with that by thinking of the classroom as a laboratory and by treating writing and discussion as acts of experimentation. My favorite classes are the ones where my students and I make something together. For me, "making something" means building an interpretation of a work's meaning—puzzling through a given text and arriving at a plausible understanding of what it says and how it says that.

Before coming to Dallas, I taught at a small college in the mountains of northwest Massachusetts, did my graduate work at Berkeley, taught high school English in New Jersey, and helped publish books in midtown Manhattan. I grew up in South Carolina, though, so I'm used to heat and humidity and sweet iced tea. (But I have very different ideas about what barbecue is and should be.)

Recent Courses:  View courses taught by Ashley Barnes

Work Samples and Publications: 

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

  • 2014 — Fanny and Bob Forever: The Collage Aesthetic and the Love Story in The Golden Bowl. The Henry James Review 35.2: 95-115.
  • 2012 — The Word Made Exhibition: Protestant Reading Meets Catholic Worship in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Gates Ajar. Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 29.2: 179-200.

Chapters in Edited Collections:

  • 2014 — Fanny and Bob Forever: The Collage Aesthetic and the Love Story in The Golden Bowl. In John Carlos Rowe, ed., Henry James Today. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 41-69.

Book Reviews:

  • 2014 — Review of Joshua Landy, How to Do Things with Fictions. Comparative Literature 66.2: 247-250.

Web-Based Publications:

Co-Authored Articles:

  • 2012 — The Year in Conferences: 2011 MLA Convention. With Scott E. Moore, Lynne Feeley, and Christian Reed. ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 58.1: 136-150.

In Submission:

  • Variations on a Melodrama: Imagining the Author in Pierre and Of One Blood. Submitted to American Literary History.

In Preparation:

  • The Text as Significant Other: The Afterlife of Christian Devotional Reading in Literary Criticism. For Submission to PMLA.

PhD, University of California, Berkeley
MAT, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
BA, University of Virginia

Curriculum Vitae:  Ashley Barnes's CV