Five College Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature
His research and teaching interests include late 19th- and 20th-century fiction in English and French, aesthetic philosophy, queer and gender theory, psychoanalysis, and literary theory.
Scott’s current book project, “Fictions of Life and Death,” combines analyses of literary and sexual experimentation to illuminate the fascination with death in the novel form from Aestheticism to Modernism. An article drawn from this project, “Gide, Wilde, and the Death of the Novel” is forthcoming in Modern Language Notes. Other projects include an investigation of masculine anxiety in first person narrators of modern and contemporary American fiction as well as a book-length study of Lytton Strachey and his connections to psychoanalysis. In addition to his scholarly work, Scott writes music criticism and fiction.
Freud remarked that his case histories read like short stories, and it was this intersection of genres that allowed him to arrive at an understanding of the suffering of his patients. The reading and writing of case histories, whether legal, medical, or psychological, give us access to the way narrative forms come to structure and determine our lives. The case history proceeds on two registers--a written text that also includes its own interpretation, its own reading--which gives it a special connection to the study of literature and literary interpretation. In this course, we will start by reading Freud's case histories and proceed to a cross-cultural selection of modern novels and stories alongside psychoanalytic theory. The following questions will guide our reading: How does the case history allow us to imagine the limits of normativity? How does it allow us to rethink the place of character in fiction? Can a literary text be treated as a case history? Can the case history, as a practical attempt to ease the suffering of a patient, teach us something about the relation of the body to writing?
The history of the novel in America has always been intertwined with the production of an image of the American man. From Hawthorne's attempt to best the "mobs of scribbling women" to the idealized loner cowboy, from the hard-boiled journalistic prose of Hemingway to the misogynist rantings of Roth, we might say that the epitome of the American self-made man is the novelistic protagonist. In this course, we will combine literary study and gender theory to begin to examine the myth of the American man, considering both how it is constructed and undermined in American literature. We will pay particular attention to the function of sexual and racial difference - and its erasure - in the idealization of the male protagonist (and author). Readings will draw from a range of texts from the 19th-century to the present, including short stories and novels by Melville, Hemingway, Cather, Wright, Baldwin, Roth, Diaz, Welch and Kushner.
In this course, we will read novels with protagonists who die young. How does early death shape plot? Why do abbreviated lives make the most fascinating stories? Is there a literary history of dying young? Though we often think literature contains the meaning of life, we don't ask whether it might give us the meaning of death. But what could be more meaningless than the death of someone cut off in the prime of life? Through a survey of European and American literature, this course will explore the pathos and desire that turn so many plots into death sentences for young men and women. We will read novels in conjunction with philosophical and theoretical texts to examine how death makes meaning in literature and how literary death reframes issues of identity such as race, gender, and class.
Is beauty useless, or does art serve a (moral) purpose? The role of art in Western culture has often been under debate, especially with the rise of literacy, accessibility, and democratization that came in the period of industrialization. These questions are particularly pertinent now in the ongoing debate over liberal arts education and the future of the humanities. This course will combine readings in aesthetic philosophy with literary works to investigate the way art figures in a society of consumption. We will ask whether art can serve the role of preservation formerly afforded to religion in a secularized world, or if it disrupts economies of sufficiency. In addition, we will look at the politics of representation in the Western tradition that privileges certain bodies and ignores others. Finally, we will interrogate the process of interpretation itself as it relates to the preservation of cultural products. Our readings will begin with Symbolism and Decadence and move through Modernism and contemporary works. Authors may include Schiller, Ruskin, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Wilde, Mauss, Bataille, Eliot, Genet, Pynchon, Duras, Derrida, and Mbembe.