Jon Najarian

My work concentrates on the intersection of modernist literature, visual art, and philosophy. I’m interested in understanding how formal experiments in verbal and visual representation come to both reflect and inform philosophical aesthetic discourse, especially in works that combine word and image and don’t fit comfortably into traditional distinctions between literary and visual art. To this end, I’m interested in how certain canonical authors sought to align their work with the visual arts (Joyce’s initial enthusiasm for Matisse’s notoriously bad illustrations of Ulysses, Woolf’s fascination with her sister Vanessa Bell’s painting); and also in how under-studied writers and artists, such as the painter Rockwell Kent and visual artist Lynd Ward, used the form of the book to experiment with pictorial narrativity. My dissertation, The Rhythm of the Visible World: Literary and Pictorial Narrative from Stein to Spiegelman, considers texts that seem uncomfortable with their medium—novels that label themselves portraits, wordless sequences of woodcut or other images that refer to themselves as novels—to understand how modes of pictorial representation came to inform literary practices like narrative voice, description, and stream of consciousness. Drawing on Wittgenstein’s writings on aspect perception, as well as on theoretical work in visual culture studies, I argue for an understanding of modernist fiction that is deeply uncomfortable with and yet revels in the absence of its own visuality.

Ph.D. in English and American literature, Boston University, in progress
M.A. in English and American literature, Boston University, 2013
B.A., Marywood University

“Is Comics Literature?” Review Essay. Forthcoming. Twentieth-Century Literature.

“Seeing Selves and Imagining Others: Aesthetic Interpretation and the Claim to Community in Cavell.” Conversations: A Journal of Cavellian Studies issue 5 (2018).

“‘Pressing the Wrong Button’: Pynchon’s Postmodernism and the Threat of Nuclear War in The Crying of Lot 49.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, 59.1 (2017), 41-56.

“How the Built Environment Shapes Spatial Bridging Ties and Social Capital.” Co-author with Joseph Cabrera. Environment and Behavior 47.3 (2015), 239-267.

“Can New Urbanism Create Diverse Communities?” Co-author with Joseph Cabrera. Journal of Education Planning Research 33.4 (2013), 427-441.

“(Re)Fashioning the Self: L’Epistre au Dieu d’Amours, The Legend of Good Women, and the Narrative Frame Tradition.” Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism (Winter 2012).

Selected Presentations
Organizer and Presider for special session, “Graphic States of Insecurity.” MLA, New York City, January 4-7, 2018.

“The Image of Ireland in ‘Cyclops’.” Diasporic Joyce, 2017 North American James Joyce Conference, Toronto, June 21-25, 2017.

“Aspect Perception and Visual Anachrony in Henry James’ The Ambassadors.” International Society for the Study of Narrative Conference, March 23-26, 2017.

“‘As None Perceived’: Omniscience and Perception in Joyce’s ‘Ithaca.’” MLA, Philadelphia, January 5-8, 2017.

Organizer and Presider for special session, “Limits of the Diaphane: Modernism and the Boundaries of the Human.” MLA, Philadelphia, January 5-8, 2017.

Courses Taught
English 170: The Graphic Novel, Boston University, Fall 2017, Spring 2018
English 120: Haunted: Literature Dead and Undead, Boston University, Fall 2016
English 120: Philosophy of Literature, Boston University, Fall 2015
Writing 150: Freshman Writing Seminar: Paranoia and the American Conspiracy Theory, Boston University, Spring 2015
Writing 100: Freshman Writing Seminar: Madness and the American Conspiracy Theory, Boston University, Fall 2014
English 125: Readings in Modern Literature, Boston University, Spring 2014