John K. Limon

Photo of John K. Limon

John Hawley Roberts Professor of English

Hollander Hall Rm 215


B.A. Harvard University (1974)
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, English (1981)

Areas of Expertise

American literature, American modernism, American postmodernism, the world novel, death theory, comedy.



American Modernism
(not offered 2023/24)

ENGL 272 / AMST 272 SEM

American Postmodern Fiction (not offered 2023/24)


Escape, Escapism, Escapology, and the Contemporary American Novel (not offered 2023/24)


William Faulkner
(not offered 2023/24)

Scholarship/Creative Work

Death’s Following:  Mediocrity, Dirtiness, Adulthood, Literature (Fordham:  2012).

The Second World War in American Fiction,” in The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century British and American War Literature (2012:  Edinburgh UP).

“Addie in Non Man’s Land,” in As I Lay Dying:  Norton Critical Edition (Norton:  2010).

“American Humor in History,” American Literary History, vol. 21, no. 2, summer 2009.

Professional Affiliations

Please see my CV for Professional affiliations and more:

John Limon CV

Current Committees

  • Winter Study Committee, Chair

I am John J. Gibson Professor of English and chair of the English Department.   I teach courses almost entirely in American Literature—including courses on modernism, postmodernism, and Faulkner—although for several years I taught a course in the world novel.   A couple of my books are dedicated to putting American literature in relation to extrinsic forms of history:  The Place of Fiction in the Time of Science:  A Disciplinary History of American Literature (Cambridge:  1990) and Writing After War:  American Writing from Realism to Postmodernism (Oxford:  1994).  (The former book engages the philosophy of science of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Popper, and others; the latter, with the war philosophy especially of Clausewitz and Elaine Scarry.)  A third book, on the other hand, has almost nothing to do with American literature (it features chapters on Stoppard, Sebald, and Thomas Bernhard):  Death’s Following:  Mediocrity, Dirtiness, Adulthood, Literature (2012:  Fordham).  (It’s a theory of death.)  And one book has almost nothing to do with literature at all, but centers on the comedy of Lenny Bruce, Nichols and May, Brooks and Reiner, David Letterman, Richard Pryor, Ellen DeGeneres, and Paula Poundstone:  Stand-up Comedy in Theory, or, Abjection in America (2000:  Duke).  In progress, possibly, is an article on Orhan Pamuk; and a book on escapism, with articles on American classic film comedies, The Sound of Music, and  much, much more.