University of South Florida
College of Arts and Sciences
Office: CPR 360 D
Email: jflennon (at) usf.edu
I am an associate professor of English and the University of South Florida. At USF, I mainly teach courses in 20th-century American literature and film with a cultural studies orientation. As the Director of the graduate program for the English Department, I also teach the Introduction to Graduate Studies course for students in our Literature, Rhetoric and Composition and Creative Writing tracks.
My research interests are varied and I publish on a number of subjects: from working-class literature to social-movements to film. No matter what I am publishing on, though, there is usually one thread that connects them all: my work is principally concerned with how marginalized individuals exert a politicized voice in collectivized actions. For example, my book Boxcar Politics: The Hobo in Literature and Culture 1869-1956 (UMASS Press, 2014) reestablishes the hobo’s political thorns, examining this figure as part of a resistive working-class collective. Working Class Literature(s): Historical and International Perspectives is an open access co-edited collection that explores working class literature from a global perspective. My work has appeared in various edited volumes and journals including Cultural Studies Review, New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry, American Studies, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, and Acoma. Please see my Publications page for more examples of my work.
My current book project, Conflict Graffiti, examines graffiti as an evolving language of protest that is rooted in the specific material culture of a particular area but is read, interpreted and remixed by a global audience. Although ubiquitously (mis)used as a visual backdrop to media coverage of the world’s conflicts, little scholarship has focused on understanding graffiti from a comparative and global perspective. For this project, I am enormously grateful to receive various grants (including an NEH Summer Grant) to travel to Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, England, Sweden, Brazil, Germany and, within the U.S., New Orleans and Detroit. Please check out my evolving thoughts (and photos) here.
At USF, I have had the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses for English majors as well as General Education courses. These courses include: American Modernism, Film and Culture, Contemporary U.S. Literature, Film as Narrative Art and Cultural Studies and the Pop Arts. Since I have become Graduate Director, I currently only teach course in the Graduate Program. I look forward, though, to working with undergraduates again in the future.
In an effort to get to know all MA and MFA students entering the department, for the past few years I have not been teaching content courses but mostly service courses. I am in the process, though, of creating a number of courses focusing on working-class literature and film for the department and I plan on teaching these courses over the next two years. The first course will focus on Industrialization and the working-class (late 19th/ early 20th century), the second course will focus on Post-Industrialization and the working-class (1970 to the present). The third course will center on Working-class literature and Film from a global perspective. I plan on working with a colleague in Sweden and using different modalities, we will co-teach this course. Graduate students will have the opportunity to work on projects and papers with Swedish students.
I have chaired four MA students thesis portfolios. I find the process of working with the student to revise their papers with an eye to publication to be an exciting process. For students who wish to work with me (and please do!), we will discuss not only “how-to” issues directly connected to this paper such as research, strong-writing, and editing but we will also discuss professional concerns such as publication, conferences, and potential PhD writing samples. We will meet regularly while you revise, and you will have weekly check-ins with me to discuss your progress and issues (and successes) you are encountering. If you are interested in working with me, set up an appointment and I’ll be happy to discuss possibilities.
As you can see from my publications and research interests, I work with a wide variety of texts, time periods and methodologies in US literature and culture. One of the greatest pleasures for me as a researcher is to latch onto to a topic and then I chase the idea where ever it leads me. But one research thread—that is more like a rope—is my interest in examining how minority figures exert their political voices. Whether it is working with the working-class hobos collectivizing their labor to fight against unjust hiring practices or graffiti writers marking walls with anti-government sentiments during large demonstrations, I’m interested in that way individual acts of resistance are intertwined with collective movements.
I am a reader on a number of PhD committees where I am working with students involved in a number of exciting projects: from examining the politized spaces between science-fiction literature and environmental concerns of climate change to understanding the way literature of war recreates tropes of toxic masculinity. I am currently chairing two PhD dissertations: One examines the politicized spaces of slaughterhouses through a feminist lens, the other examines the environmental and social effects of national dam building projects in the U.S., India and China.
If you are interested in working with me on your dissertation, please make an appointment with me and we can chat.