The English Department is thrilled to announce that we have chosen Dr. Daniel Novak as our November Professor of the Month.
Dan Novak was born in Los Angeles, California. He received his B.A. at UCLA, and his M.A. and Ph.D at Princeton University. Previous to teaching at the University of Mississippi, he taught at Tulane and LSU. His academic interests include Victorian literature, visual culture, sexuality studies, and race studies. He is author of Realism, Photography, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction (Cambridge, 2008) and co-editor with James Catano of Masculinity Lessons: Men, Masculinity, and Women’s and Gender Studies (Johns Hopkins, 2011). His current projects include Victoria’s Accursed Race which analyzes nineteenth-century representations of the Cagots—an ethnic group of mysterious origins and indeterminate race—and Specters of Wilde, a book-length study of the origins of Wilde studies. He and his wife live in Oxford with their three dogs and will be welcoming a new puppy in December.
We recently asked Dr. Novak a couple questions concerning his background, his role models, and his aspirations.
- What inspired your love of English?
My parents are both Ph.Ds in English (as is my uncle and cousin) and had me reading literature from a very young age. My Mom studied American literature and my Dad British, so I split my time between each tradition but gravitated toward British lit for my focus in college. I envy people who are talented in both the sciences and humanities. I was (am) terrible at math and could just barely get through science classes. It’s a good thing I loved reading!
- How/why did you decide to become a professor of English?
Again, I’d have to point to my parents. Both were professors and it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to go into the ‘family business.’ I’m grateful for that because many aspiring students don’t have the kind of support for what may seem like ‘less practical’ choice of profession. I’m not a rebel by nature, but I did move one century away from my father’s specialization; he does the 18th century, and I do Victorian literature. Take that, Dad!
- How did you end up here at the University of Mississippi?
Before I came to the University of Mississippi, I was a professor at LSU. The Department was generous enough to consider me as part of a package deal in order for my wife to agree to take a position as the Chair of the department of Social Work. She was the real prize, and I feel honored that the English department was willing to take a chance on me!
- What are your feelings concerning the University of Mississippi’s English Department? Its faculty? Its students?
I’m amazed every day at how talented and congenial our faculty are from top to bottom. Having been at other universities, I can tell you that this is stellar group of scholars, teachers, and all-around human beings. They don’t get the publicity or praise they deserve. It’s also not easy to create an atmosphere as supportive and fun as we have here. I’m also impressed every day with our students. The best students at the University of Mississippi are as good as the best students anywhere. Frankly, I’ve rarely seen such accomplished, driven, and hard-working undergraduates as my students and advisees. I’ve had to tell some of them to have more fun and relax!
- Where do you see yourself in 15-20 years?
Standing (hopefully) in front of a class at the University of Mississippi!
Thank you, Dr. Novak, for all that y0u have done for the University of Mississippi English Department.