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Phillip J Barrish

Associate FacultyPh.D., 1991, Cornell University

Associate Professor
Phillip J Barrish



College: Liberal Arts

Home Department: English

Education: PhD, Cornell University

Research interests:Post-Civil War American literature and culture; whiteness studies and critical race theory; "masculinity" as a cultural construction; gender studies; psychoanalytic approaches to literary study; relationship between literature and liberalism

Courses taught:
E 338 American Literature: From 1865 to the Present-W

E372M American Literary Realism

E 395M Literary
Whiteness Since the Civil War

Recent Publications:White Liberal Identity, Literary Pedagogy, and Classic American Realism (Ohio State UP, 2005).


WGS 345 • Amer Literary Masculinities

46730 • Spring 2015
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm GAR 0.120
(also listed as E 370W)

E 370W  l  12-American Literary Masculinities

Instructor:  Barrish, P

Unique #:  34890

Semester:  Spring 2015

Cross-lists:  WGS 345

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Flags:  Writing

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: From a vantage point informed by feminism and gender studies, this course will explore constructions of masculinity in U.S. fiction, primarily (though not exclusively) between the Civil War and W.W. II. “Masculinity,” although often viewed as an entirely innate quality, also reflects the assumptions and conventions, spoken and unspoken rules, and approved social roles that define what male identity is—or, rather, what it “should be”—within a given historical and cultural context.

Historically, literature has played an important role in influencing, reflecting, or challenging such constructions. The course title uses the plural term “masculinities” because cultural definitions of masculinity change over time. Even within a given historical moment, different models of masculinity may co-exist, influenced by factors that include, for example, sexual preference, race, class, region, and others. In addition to exploring these themes in literature from the aforementioned period, students will work in teams to develop class presentations about models of masculinity in contemporary popular culture, which may draw from music, visual culture, and other media, as well as contemporary celebrity “personalities.”

This is a discussion-based class in which it is imperative to keep up with the reading assignments. Because the course also carries a writing flag, you should expect to write regularly during the semester, complete meaningful writing projects, and receive feedback from your instructor to help you improve your writing. A substantial portion of your grade will come from your written work.

Texts: Although this list may change, possible readings include Henry James, Daisy Miller; William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham; Charles Chesnutt, The Marrow of Tradition; Owen Wister, The Virginian (1903); Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country; Ernest Hemingway, assorted short stories and/or The Sun Also Rises; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her; and James Hannaham, God Says No, as well as at least one feature-length film. Secondary sources by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Michael Kimmel, Gail Bederman, and other scholars will be included in a course packet.

Requirements & Grading: Writing 60%; reading quizzes 15%; presentation 10%; active commitment to class 15% (this grade is based not only on your participation in class discussions but also on whether you show up with the relevant text and ready to work everyday, actively listen to what others are saying, and similar factors). Note that problems with attendance or punctuality will severely impact your grade.

WGS 345 • Amer Literary Masculinities

47090 • Spring 2012
Meets MWF 900am-1000am PAR 204
(also listed as E 370W)

Instructor:  Barrish, P            Areas:  V / G

Unique #:  35435            Flags:  Writing

Semester:  Spring 2012            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  WGS 345            Computer Instruction:  n/a

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: This course will explore constructions of masculinity in American literature, taking a generally but not exclusively feminist perspective. Masculinity, as we will discover, has meant very different things at different times in US history, and has also varied in meaning and significance according to such broad categories of identity as social class, race, region, and queerness. Our primary focus will be on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but we will also cover more recent materials.

Students should be prepared for a significant amount of reading, some of it challenging either in content or in level of difficulty.

Texts: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance; Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, written by himself (1845); Owen Wister, The Virginian (1903); Ernest Hemingway, Assorted short stories; James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room; One (or two) feature-length films suggested by the class; Miscellaneous secondary sources (theoretical, historical, critical) which will be available in a course packet.

Requirements & Grading: An annotated bibliography on some tightly focused topic related to the theme of U.S. masculinities: 10%; Participation in a group presentation on some recent cultural phenomenon or text relevant to the course (e.g., the recent “It Gets Better” youtube project): 20%; 2-page, 3-page, and 8-page essays: 50%; Overall commitment to class (participation, attendance, etc.): 20%.


The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism (Cambridge University Press, 2011).   

White Liberal Identity, Literary Pedagogy, and Classic American Realism (The Ohio State University Press, 2005).

American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige 1880-1995 (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

"The Sticky Web of Medical Professionalism: Health Care Reform and Robert Herrick’s The Web of Life, "American Literature (forthcoming).

"James, Realism, Naturalism," in David McWhirter, ed., Henry James in Context, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

"The Secret Joys of Antiracist Pedagogy: Huckleberry Finn in the Classroom," American Imago: Studies in Psychoanalysis and Culture 59:2 (Summer 2002): 117-40.

"Critical Presentism."  Romantic Circles Praxis Series. Special Issue on Romanticism and Contemporary Culture (February 2002, Online):

"The Awakening’s Signifying 'Mexicanist' Presence." Studies in American Fiction 28.1 (Spring 2000): 65-76.       

"The Remarrying Woman as Symptom: Exchange, Male Hysteria, and The Custom of the Country." American Literary Realism 27.2 (Winter 1995): 1-19.

 "'The Genuine Article': Ethnicity, Capital, and The Rise of David Levinsky." American Literary History 5.4 (Winter 1993): 643-62.  

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