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Bio

I'm an Assistant Professor of English at Colby College. I also teach in and serve on the Advisory Board for the program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), and teach a range of interdisciplinary courses on British literature and the Enlightenment.

I'm a literary historian specializing in 18th-century British and transatlantic literatures, as well as literature and culture of the Enlightenment. I'm broadly interested in literature’s contributions to conceptual engineering, or the capacity of literature and literary studies to help us develop and refine concepts (for example, much of my current work is on the role of literature in shaping the concept of "data" during the Scientific Revolution). 

My particular interests include epistemology of literature, the organization of knowledge (and the history of knowledge organization), Enlightenment natural philosophy, the relationship between data and narrative, and political theory in the novel.

My book, A World of Disorderly Notions: Quixote and the Logic of Exceptionalism (University of Virginia Press, 2019) is available here. I am also writing monographs on (1) the historical relationship between data and narrative and (2) science denialism from the trial of Galileo to global warming. Here you can find more details about my research, including links to my peer-reviewed scholarship.

Along with my academic work, I write essays for the wider public about politics, literature, teaching, and higher education. My essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington PostThe New Republic, The Atlantic, VoxThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and others.

I completed my doctorate in English at the University of Oxford in 2012, and hold prior degrees from Bucknell University and Dartmouth College. At Oxford I was a member and CR president of Linacre College.

Raised in Pittsburgh, PA, I ran Division I track and cross country at Bucknell, where I was an All-Conference and IC4A All-East selection multiple years.

Twitter: @AaronRHanlon

Agent: William Callahan at InkWell Management

Colby College Faculty Bio