Damien Schlarb, Ph.D.

wiss. Mitarbeiter, Abteilung Scheiding

I am a literary scholar of nineteenth-century romanticism. My current book project focuses on Herman Melville’s mediation of Old Testament wisdom literature in his oeuvre. Methodologically grounded in literary studies, the project is situated at the intersection of literature and theology. It seeks to revise the scholarly commonplace that Melville exclusively expresses personal religious resentments in his writing. In contrast, I read Melville’s fiction and poetry as productively engaging the moral tradition of wisdom literature through a hermeneutics of contemplation. In a broader sense, I am interested in the American romantics’ reception of religious paradigm changes in the Atlantic world during the long eighteenth century up to the Civil War. Melville’s texts reflect upon the multilateral theological debates within American Protestant Christianity during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Melville’s texts stage a productive intervention in these debates by juxtaposing academic specialist as well as laity voices. He problematizes the way the modernist discourses of history, charity, and commerce have usurped Biblical forms and language while eroding the moralizing influence of its literary forms. In doing so, Melville’s writing casts in relief that which has been lost in the wake of disciplinary specialization and compartmentalization that emerged around the 1850s. His texts articulate nostalgia for the moralizing comfort conveyed through the Bible’s literary forms.

Current Research

  •  Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • American Renaissance
  • Herman Melville
  • Theology and Literature
  • Philosophy of Religion

Service

My service credentials include academic administration, editorial work, research assistance, and interdepartmental exchange. Currently, I serve as the assistant editor for Amerikastudien/American Studies, the quarterly of the German Association for American Studies (GAAS/DGfA). I have previously worked as layout editor for the South Atlantic Review (2006-09), the journal of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA). Because of my bi-national education, advancing international collaboration on the student level is a passion project of mine. My work as an administrative assistant to GSU’s Global Initiatives division at the College of Arts and Sciences (2010-11) allowed me to further this cause, and I remain actively involved in JGU and GSU’s respective graduate-exchange efforts.

Teaching

I have taught classes in literary studies, literary theory, as well as rhetoric and composition at both GSU and JGU.

  • Early American Literature
  • Literary Theory & Methodology
  • Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • American Literature Survey (ENG 2130)
  • Introductory and Advanced Academic Composition (ENG 1101, 1102)
  • Culture Studies (Historical Survey)

My teaching pedagogy is process-oriented and conversational. I engage with students in a semester-long dialog about their research and writing by creating a series of feedback loops. Continuous dialog and self reflection strengthen students’ understanding of their own growing skills. At the same time, this practice helps me see my subject in new ways. In the literature classroom, I encourage students to articulate their research interests and practices in their own language and on their own terms in individual conversations with me. Students then can take ownership of their ideas and projects by engaging in peer-review.

Meanwhile, in the composition classroom, students learn to see themselves as part of a community of writers. I challenge students to challenge themselves and each other to improve argumentative strategies, structure, and idiomatic expression. Having taught at institutions with strong international student contingencies, I am confortable teaching in an ESL environment.

Publications

“American Romanticisms I: William Cullen Bryant’s ‘The Prairies’ and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ‘The Rhodora; On Being Asked, Whence is the Flower.’” The History of American Poetry. Eds. Oliver Scheiding, Rene Dietrich, and Clemens Spahr. WVT, Forthcoming 2015. 65-78. Print. Mosaik.

Contact

Damien Schlarb, Ph.D.
Philosophicum II
Jakob-Welder-Weg 20
Room 02.229

Phone: +49-6131-39-20296
schlarbd@uni-mainz.de

Office hours:
Wednesdays, 13-15

 

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