Chancellor’s Professor and Distinguished Professor of English
Director, UT Humanities Center
Amy J. Elias is UT Chancellor’s Professor and Distinguished Professor of English and since 2017 has served as Director of the University of Tennessee Humanities Center. Her work primarily focuses on interdisciplinary arts aesthetics, narrative theory, contemporary literature, science fiction and speculative literatures, eco-arts, and humanities engagement with publics and sciences, particularly in relation to digital and environmental humanities. The principal founder of ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, she served as first President, Past President, Secretary, and Communications / Media officer and hosted the association’s launch conference in Knoxville in 2009. She is also the founding co-editor-in-chief of ASAP’s award-winning scholarly publication, ASAP/Journal, (published by the Johns Hopkins University Press) and its affiliated open-access site ASAP/J . She is the author of Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction (Johns Hopkins, 2001), winner of the George and Barbara Perkins Book Prize from the International Society for the Study of Narrative. She is also co-editor of The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the Twenty-First Century (Northwestern, 2015), co-editor of Time: A Vocabulary of the Present (NYU Press, 2016), and editor of the forthcoming Speculative Light: The Arts of Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin (Duke University Press) as well as the author of more than 35 articles and book chapters. Her current book in progress concerns how the arts enact dialogue across boundaries, including the boundaries of language itself.
Elias has served on the executive boards of the International Society for the Study of Narrative and the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present; chaired the Modern Language Association’s Division on Prose Fiction; served on book prize committees for the MLA, the ISSN, and ASAP; served as a judge for such competitions as the American Academy in Berlin; and serves on the editorial boards of Liquid Blackness, Contemporary Literature, and ASAP/Journal.
- Ph.D. and M.A., The Pennsylvania State University (American Studies minor)
- B.A. Wilkes University (summa cum laude)
Board Memberships, Public Scholarship, and Community Engagement
- Board Member, Big Ears Festival, Knoxville, TN. 2020- present.
- Council Member, “Gathering Light: The Delaney Project,” Knoxville, TN. 2018-present.
- Board Member, Humanities Tennessee, 2019-present.
- Public symposium, “In a Speculative Light: The Arts of James Baldwin and Beauford Delaney.” Knoxville, TN, February 20-21, 2020, https://baldwindelaney.org/. Partnered with The Delaney Project and the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN.
- Co-organizer with Michelle Commander, public symposium, “The Futures of Afrofuturism,” University of Tennessee, Knoxville, March 30-31, 2017, https://humanitiescenter.utk.edu/afrofuturism/.
- Interviews and community/university partnerships around hosted public lectures: Robert Bullard, Terry Tempest Williams, Michael Witmore and Vint Cerf, Christopher Newfield, Tracy K. Smith, J.D. Vance, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Anton Vidokle.
Books and Journal Special Issues:
- Speculative Light: The Arts of Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin. Duke University Press, forthcoming. 22 essays.
- Special Issue Co-editor (with Melissa Lam, Hong Kong; Jonathan P. Eburne, Pennsylvania State University), “Rules of Engagement: Arts, Process, Protest.” ASAP/Journal, Issue 3, no. 2, May 2018.
- Time: A Vocabulary of the Present. Eds. Joel Burges and Amy J. Elias. New York University Press, 2016. 20 essays.
- Sole Special Issue Editor, “Art and the Commons: Tract, Circuit, Sphere,” ASAP/Journal, Issue 1, no. 1 (launch issue of the journal), January 2016.
- The Planetary Turn: Relationality, and Geoaesthetics in the 21st Century. Eds. Amy J. Elias and Christian Moraru. Northwestern University Press, 2015. 12 essays.
- Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. Perkins Prize Award winner.
Articles/Book Chapters since 2010:
- “Realist Ontology in William Gibson’s The Peripheral.” In William Gibson and the Future of Contemporary Culture, edited by Mathias Nilges and Mitchell R. Murray, 167-178. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2021.
- “Context Rocks!” PMLA 134, no. 3 (2019): 579-86.
- Elias, Amy J., Jered Sprecher, and Fred Wilson. “Objects and Identities: An Interview with Fred Wilson.” ASAP/Journal 2, no. 1 (2017): 3-28.
- “Past/Future.” In Time: A Vocabulary of the Present, edited by Joel Burges and Amy J. Elias, 35-50. New York: NYU Press, 2016.
- Elias, Amy J.; Matthew Hart; David James; Samuel Cohen; Mary Esteve. “Postmodern, Postwar, Contemporary: A Dialogue on the Field.” In Postmodern/Postwar—and After, edited by Jason Gladstone, Andrew Hoberek, and Daniel Worden. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2016.
- “Historiographic Metafiction and Metahistorial Romance.” In The Cambridge History of Postmodern Literature, edited by Len Platt and Brian McHale, 293-307. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- “Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Teslapunk, Dieselpunk, Salvagepunk: Metahistorical Romance and/vs the Technological Sublime.” In Metahistorical Narratives and Scientific Metafictions: A Critical Insight into the Twentieth-Century Poetics, edited by Giuseppe Episcopo, 201-220. Napoli: Edizioni Cronopio, 2015.
- “The Commons . . . and Digital Planetarity.” In The Planetary Turn: Art, Relationality, and Geoaesthetics in the 21st-Century, edited by Amy J. Elias and Christian Moraru, 37-69. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2015.
- “The Dialogical Avant-Garde: Relational Aesthetics and Time Ecologies in Only Revolutions and TOC.” Contemporary Literature (Special Issue: “Post-Millennial Commitments,” ed. David James and Andrzej Gasiorek) 53, no. 4 (2013): 738-78.
- “Virtual Autobiography: Autographies, Interfaces, and Avatars.” In The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, edited by Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons, and Brian McHale, 512-27. London and New York: Routledge, 2012.
- “Faithful Historicism and Philosophical Semi-Retirement.” In The Limits of Literary Historicism, edited by Allen Dunn and Thomas Haddox, 29-53. Tennessee Studies in Literature 45. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2012.
- “Metafiction.” In The Cambridge Companion to American Fiction After 1945, edited by John Duvall, 15-29. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
- “History.” In The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Pynchon, edited by Inger H. Dalsgaard, Luc Herman, Brian McHale, 123-35. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
- “Psychogeography, Détournement, Cyberspace.” New Literary History (Special issue, “What is an Avant-Garde?”) 41, no. 4 (2011): 822-46.
- “Plots, Pilgrimage, and the Politics of Genre in Against the Day.” In Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day: A Corrupted Pilgrim’s Guide, edited by Jeffrey Severs and Christopher Leise, 29-46. Delaware University Press, 2011.
- “The Narrativity of Postconvergent Media: No Ghost Just a Shell and Rirkrit Tiravanija’s (ghost reader C.H.).” SubStance (Special Issue: Graphic Narratives and Narrative Theory, eds. David Herman and Jared Gardner.) 40, no. 1 (2011): 182-202.
- “Narrative, Ideology, Critique.” In Teaching Narrative Theory, edited by James Phelan, Peter Rabinowitz, and Brian McHale, 281-94. New York: MLA of America, 2010.
Awards, Honors & Grants (selected)
- Chancellors University Professor, UTK, 2020-
- Co-PI, NEH Connections Grant (Planning Grant), with Hilary Havens and Amir Sadovnik ($35,000), “Designing a ‘Humanistic Computing’ Curriculum at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville,” 2021. NEH example narrative at grants site.
- Distinguished Professor, College of Arts and Sciences, UTK, 2020-25
- PI, NEH Collaborative Research Grant ($50,000), for the symposium “In a Speculative Light: The Arts of James Baldwin and Beauford Delaney,” Feb. 19-21, 2020. NEH example narrative at grants site.
- Lindsay Young Professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences, UTK, 2019-20
- UTK Leadership Program, Office of the Provost, 2019-20
- Excellence in Humanities Award, Office of Research and Engagement, UTK, 2019
- Association of American Publishers award, Prose Division, Best New Journal in the Humanities, ASAP/Journal, 2019
- Honorary Inductee, Phi Beta Kappa, 2019
- “Amy J. Elias Founder’s Award,” ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, 2018. (Named fund for international arts association to provide support for independent artists, adjuncts, and graduate students for whom it may be difficult to pay for conference attendance.)
- Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Award for Best New Journal, ASAP/Journal, 2018
- Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Award for Best New Journal Design, ASAP/Journal, 2017
- Lindsay Young Chair of Excellence in the Humanities, 2016-18
- UT Humanities Center Research Fellowship, University of Tennessee, 2013
- College of Arts and Sciences Senior Teaching Award, University of Tennessee, 2007
- George and Barbara Perkins Book Award for Sublime Desire: History and Post-1960s Fiction, 2002
- NEH Summer Seminar, “Literature and Values.” Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2001
- School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell University, 1998
- “Dialogic History.” Lifetimes Research Seminar, University of Oslo, Norway (via Zoom), Sept. 10, 2021.
- Keynote. “Dialogue as Euchronia.” Utopia 2021 Graduate Student Conference, Florida State University, via Zoom, April 2, 2021.
- “History as the Sideways Future Glance.” Conference: “Against Orthodoxies: Working with Hayden White,” November 1-2, 2020, University of California at Santa Cruz.
- Keynote. “The Futurity of Dialogue.” “Forming the Future: An Interdisciplinary Conference.” University of Plymouth, UK. September 2-3, 2019.
- “Dialogue and ‘The Character’ in a Time of Flow.” George Ford Lecture, University of Rochester, September, 2018.
- “Formal Dialogics: Glyphs, Remediation, and Media as Ecology.” Invited plenary talk for Research and Teaching New Media and Contemporary Literature: A Symposium. Queen Mary University, London, April 2017.
- “Time, A Vocabulary: Past/Future.” Project Narrative invited talk, Ohio State University, October 2016.
- “The Temporality of Dialogue: The Promise of Silence.” Global Studies Program year-long symposium, “Coevality: Global Ethics in a Time of Total Change.” University of Pittsburgh, April 2016.
- “Kindness and Zombies: The Queer Ethics of Dialogue.” Cagle Lecture, Rice University. October 16, 2014.
- “The Contemporary, As Soon As Possible: Periodization vs. Relationality.”
Stanford Colloquium on “The Contemporary.” Stanford Humanities Center, May 30, 2014.
- “Troping the Zeitgeist: Irony to Dialogue in the Contemporary Arts.” Invited public talk for Project Narrative Speakers Series, Ohio State University, April 24, 2012.
- “The Kynicism of Hayden White.” Symposium: “Between History and Narrative: Colloquium in Honor of Hayden White.” University of Rochester, April 2009.