Alexander Buckley

I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Virginia, where I study the novel with a special emphasis on British fiction from the 1680s to the 1890s. I am most interested in literature as a means of social imagination—as a set of tools with which we make sense of ourselves as at the same time discrete individuals and members of a wider collective world.
My dissertation theorizes one formal dynamic with which novels facilitate this sense-making. I call it the interpersonal field: a web of complex relations that forms between narrative personalities when these personalities purport to transcend the narrative discourse instantiating them them. These personalities include substantive characters, who claim an essential personhood irreducible to text; local narrators, who affect a narrowly circumscribed power with regards to the narrative world; and we readers, who stand outside the narrative and peer in at the other personalities swimming inside it. The resulting narrative experience, I argue, is one of fluid engagement between character, narrator, and reader, its ultimate truth a provisional negotiation.
I also take pride in being a teacher. At the University of Virginia, I have designed and taught standalone courses in composition and Victorian literature. I have also served as a teaching assistant for our department’s survey courses, covering more than one thousand years of English and North American literary history, and encompassing virtually every major genre: from poetry to drama, prose fiction, autobiography, and more.