Faculty Profile

Wendy Moffat

Professor of English; John J. Curley '60 and Ann Conser Curley '63 Faculty Chair in Global Education (1984)

Contact Information


East College Room 408


Her teaching interests include modernism, literature and sexuality, biography, and literary theory. Her biography, A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster, received the Biographer’s Club Prize in 2010 and was runner-up for the PEN Biography Prize in 2011.


  • B.A., Yale University, 1977
  • M.A., 1979
  • M.Phil., 1981, Ph.D., 1986

2017-2018 Academic Year

Fall 2017

ENGL 321 James Joyce's Ulysses
Now you can tell your grandchildren that you have read, finished, and (partially) understood the Great Modern Novel almost every serious reader has picked up and attempted. The text of Ulysses (1922) is the linchpin for intertextual explorations; we will read Ulysses slowly, throughout the whole term. In addition, we will read around the novel, considering alternative contexts for understanding this complex, yet wonderful work. Other readings will include versions of Joyce's autobiography (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Stephen Hero), biography (Richard Ellman and Edna O'Brien on Joyce and Brenda Maddox on Nora Barnacle, Joyce's lover and wife), Joyce's fiction (The Dubliners), the mythic context (The Odyssey, The Bible, Celtic myth), and Irish social history. A presentation, annotated bibliography, short research paper, and final exam.

ENGL 403 The Subject of Biography
Permission of Instructor Required.Life writing--especially critical biography-- is at the forefront of several pressing and central questions in literary study right now: how culture frames and shapes meaning; the relation of the critic to the text; the coherence and stability of subjectivity itself. We’ll read some biographies that probe these problems (including --a partial list) Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 , my own A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster, and Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer). We’ll also explore questions of subjectivity in literary theory and biographical criticism, in work by Richard Holmes, Lauren Berlant, Ralph Rader, Claire Tomalin, Hermione Lee, and Eve Sedgwick. The course will focus on developing skills for 403 and innovative forms of analysis and writing, including a research paper in the form of a biographical sketch.

Spring 2018

ENGL 101 Jane Austen in Her Time
We will read all the major novels of Jane Austen in the context of biography and social history. Not open to students who have taken English 399 of the same title.) May not be taken pass/fail.

ENGL 220 Intro to Literary Studies
In literary studies, we explore the work texts do in the world. This course examines several texts of different kinds (e.g., novel, poetry, film, comic book, play, etc.) to investigate how literary forms create meanings. It also puts texts in conversation with several of the critical theories and methodologies that shape the discipline of literary study today (e.g., Marxist theory, new historicism, formalism, gender theory, postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, etc.). This course helps students frame interpretive questions and develop their own critical practice. This course is the prerequisite for 300-level work in English.

ENGL 404 Senior Thesis Workshop
A workshop requiring students to share discoveries and problems as they produce a lengthy manuscript based on a topic of their own choosing, subject to the approval of the instructor. Prerequisites: 300 and 403.