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Adam Potkay

Adam Potkay specializes in eighteenth-century and Romantic literature at the College, where he has taught since 1990; his appointment as William R. Kenan Professor of Humanties began in August 2009, and his term as Chair of the department in July 2013. 

Professor Potkay is the author of four monographs, most recently Wordsworth's Ethics (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).  The Story of Joy from the Bible to Late Romanticism (Cambridge UP, 2007) won the Harry Levin Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association for the best book in literary history and literary criticism, 2007-8; it has been translated into Romanian and Portuguese, and a portion of it has been published in Polish. 

Potkay's other books are The Passion for Happiness: Samuel Johnson and David Hume (Cornell UP, 2000) and The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Hume (Cornell UP, 1994).  He is co-editor, with his former graduate student Sandra Burr, of Black Atlantic Writers of the Eighteenth Century: Living the New Exodus in England and the Americas (St. Martin's, 1995), and editor of Fielding's Joseph Andrews (Longman Cultural Edition, 2008)

He has authored over fifty articles; recent pieces include "Contested Emotions: Pity and Gratitude from the Stoics to Swift and Wordsworth" (PMLA, October 2015);  "The Humanities in the American University: A Belle Epoque?" (Ethos [Poland], 2015); "Wordsworth's Ethical Thinking," in The Oxford Handbook of William Wordsworth (2015); "The Virgilian Way from Milton to Wordsworth" in The Blackwell Companion to British Literature, vol. 3, 2014;  "Discursive and Philosophical Prose," in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, vol. 3, 2012;  "The British Romantic Sublime" in The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present, Cambridge UP, 2012; and "Eye and Ear: Counteracting Senses in Locodescriptive Poetry" in The Blackwell Companion to Romantic Poetry, 2010.   Several of these articles appear in pdf on his page for

     Professor Potkay serves as book-review editor of Eighteenth-Century Life, a journal he has worked on since 1990.