Jeffrey Hole, Assistant Professor of English, teaches introductory and advanced courses in American and WorldLiteratures, including special topics on U.S. Empire, Slavery, and the field of Literature and Law.
His scholarship has covered a range of subjects but principally focuses on early and nineteenth-century American literature. His recent essays address writers such as Herman Melville, Frederick Douglass, and Quobna Cugoano, and have appeared in the journals American Literature and Review of International American Studies (RIAS). He has written on the stakes of the "transnational turn" in American Studies as well as focused on the works of Edward Said and the role of humanistic literary criticism within the managerial models of the neoliberal university.
His current book project, Cunning Inventions and the Force of Law, explores how writers and intellectuals responded to the passage and enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This work gives particular attention to the concomitances between fugitive tactics and literary intelligence that emerged out of and coincided with the strategies of containment, the violent protection of property, and the regime of domination made possible and enforced under the auspices of U.S. power, especially as this form of power evinced an unprecedented reach and intensification with the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.
Whether I am working with advanced English majors in an upper-division course or first-year students in the Pacific Seminar, my underlying goal is to facilitate students' growing awareness of themselves as intellectuals—people who use their minds to find connections, to read situations critically and historically, and to think about the relationship between literature and important questions that arise in the current moment.
To keep students engaged, I tend to deliver brief, extemporaneous lectures about our readings and discussions of literature, film, or other texts. I often ask students to offer brief presentations that pose observations, ask questions, or contribute knowledge and further context to our reading. I encourage student participation on multiple levels. For example, in some courses students formulate final projects, which demonstrate their abilities to design, organize, and carry out assignments that began as intellectual curiosities.
In all my courses, careful and close reading is a principal component of our work together. Sometimes the most fruitful class sessions have occurred when we have abandoned the task of "covering the material" and instead have yielded to the force of the words on the page, slowly reading and rereading, meditating on a single phrase or word—tracing its rich etymological and philological meanings. These have been moments of pedagogical and intellectual grace.
As Edward Said reminds us in one of his final books, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (2004), philology was practiced by some of the most radical and intellectually audacious minds of the last 150 years. It is this radical audacity that I hope to inspire in students.
Interaction with Students
I value the incalculable ways that students respond to my courses and to me as a teacher. It is not uncommon for former students to stop by my office and speak about the kinds of work or activities they are currently pursuing or to query about their future prospects of entering graduate school or other fields.
Students often note that they value these characteristics about my teaching:
- I provide detailed, useful, and timely feedback on their completed papers and drafts.
- I am accessible and easy to approach.
- My courses have sharpened their abilities to identify, think through, develop, and write effectively about their own ideas.
I enrich the classroom experience by providing examples from sources and media that students might readily connect with. For instance, in Introduction to the English Language, I replayed an episode of the "Colbert Report" to illustrate how closely the show's critique of the news media and political "spin" resembles ideas in George Orwell's essay "Politics of the English Language."
On other occasions, I have used clips from the film "Office Space" during our reading of Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener." Analyzing both the film and story together allows students a critical and theoretical access that may not have been possible otherwise.
Areas of Interest and Expertise
Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature, World Literature, Criticism and Theory, Law and Literature, U.S. Empire, Liberalism and Neoliberalism
Jeffrey Hole, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of English
Office: WPC 105
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211