Faculty Profile: Branka Arsic

Branka Arsic

Charles and Lynn Zhang Professor of English and Comparative Literature


Professor Arsić specializes in literatures of the 19th century Americas and their scientific, philosophical and religious contexts. She is the author, most recently, of Bird Relics: Grief and Vitalism in Thoreau (Harvard University Press, 2016), which was awarded the MLA James Russell Lowell prize for the outstanding book of 2016. It discusses how Thoreau related mourning practices to biological life by articulating a complex theory of decay, and proposing a new understanding of the pathological. She has also written On Leaving: A Reading in Emerson (Harvard UP, 2010), and a book on Melville entitled Passive Constitutions or 7½ Times Bartleby (Stanford UP, 2007). She co-edited (with Cary Wolfe) a collection of essays on Emerson, entitled The Other Emerson: New Approaches, Divergent Paths (University of Minnesota Press, 2010) and (with Kim Evans) a collection of essays on Melville, entitled Melville’s Philosophies (Bloomsbury, 2017). Her work has appeared in such journals as Common KnowledgeDiacriticsELHJ19LeviathanNew England QuarterlyNineteenth Century ProseQui Parle?RepresentationsTelos and Textual Practice, and discusses such authors as Mary Rowlandson, Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, Stanley Cavell and Gilles Deleuze. 

Undergraduate Courses Taught

  • Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy
  • Early American Ecologies