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Professor Snapshot: Claire Jarvis


The Daily e-mailed faculty a short questionnaire that strayed beyond their work at Stanford. Here is a glimpse into the personalities behind your professors.

Claire Jarvis

Hometown: Shelby, N.C.

Undergrad: UNC-Chapel Hill, English and Creative Writing Major

Grad school: Boston University, master’s in poetry; Johns Hopkins, Ph.D. in English literature

Hobbies: I have pretty elaborate cooking projects, but I also like seeing art of all kinds, so I spend a lot of time in galleries and at concerts.

#1 on your playlist: I like the new Nite Jewel EP, “Am I Real?” and the new Thee Oh Sees LP, “Warm Slime.” I’m curious to hear the new Kanye West — the songs on his website have been fascinating — I think he’s a real formalist!

Currently reading: I just picked up the first volume of Anthony Powell’s “A Dance to the Music of Time,” which is my favorite kind of leisure reading — the comic/realist novel.

Favorite book: “Wuthering Heights”

You wouldn’t mind being a character in: I’d like to channel the narrating Werner Herzog, but I don’t think I have the accent or the idiosyncrasy down, so let’s say I’ve felt like a character in “Freaks and Geeks” more times than I want to say.

If you could live in any time period, it would be: The near future

You have never: Learned to drive

If you hadn’t gone into academia, you’d be: Before going to graduate school, I worked as a book designer, though my fictional alternative career would be “music journalist.”

Department: English

Classes Taught: I’m currently co-teaching Medievalisms with Michelle Karnes and leading a seminar on The Marriage Plot. In the winter quarter, I’ll be re-teaching Victorian Sex and developing a new class, The Major Victorian Novel.

Primary research interest/project: The manuscript I’m working on focuses on a character system prevalent in the 19th-century novel, the sexualized (but unmarried) dyad made up of a strong, imperious woman and an enthralled, submissive man. I suggest that the cultural currency of this pairing alters as woman’s status in the social and political world changes and, more, that it offers a useful formal lens through which we can see the centrality of the sexual to the novel’s marriage plot. In other words, by focusing on these pairings, we begin to see the importance of the sexual body in marriage plots that at first glance focus on less embodied personal characteristics (like character, temperament and complexity). This project focuses on the British novel, from Emily Bronte to D. H. Lawrence. I’m also interested in mid-20th-century British comic realism and its tendency to mine 19th-century British literature as a body of knowledge.