My name is Ben Murphy, and I’m a Lecturer in the English Department at Elon University (Elon, NC). In 2022, I earned my Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Elon, I teach classes in Writing, African American and American Literature, Film, Genre Fiction, Digital Humanities, and Medical Humanities. Broadly speaking, my research focuses on US literature, race, region, and science in the long 19th century (circa 1830-1930). In particular, I focus on African American and multiethnic literature in relation to the history of so-called “racial science.”
My dissertation, completed in 2022, centers on the racial politics and aesthetics of crowds and crowd violence. Primarily, I analyze literature written by Black and White American authors whose work spans the early 19th century to the early 20th century. Considering novels, stories, and essays in tandem with scientific discourse, I look at how writers attempted to represent and make sense of group behavior, especially as this behavior was filtered through discourses of race and racism. This project was supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, as well as several other competitive fellowships and awards. You can read more about it on my Research Page.
Related to my dissertation research, I contribute to UNC’s Red Record Project, a collaborative website that is working to document and map lynchings that occurred in the area of the former Confederacy.
My peer-reviewed articles are published in several journals, including:
- American Literature
- Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and the Arts
- Mississippi Quarterly: The Journal of Southern Cultures
Additional writing, including essays, reviews, and interviews, appears with: ASAP/J; boundary2o; The Carolina Quarterly; Chicago Review of Books; Full Stop; Gulf Coast; The Millions; Pedagogy and American Literary Study (PALS); PopMatters; symploke. For links to all the above work, see my Writing Page.
During my graduating training at UNC-Chapel Hill, I regularly taught undergraduate courses in literature, film, the Medical Humanities, and Writing & Composition. In total, I was the instructor of record for a dozen undergraduate courses. I also served as a Teaching Assistant, a Research Consultant, and a tutor in various capacities. Due to all this work in the classroom, I was fortunate to receive three major teaching awards, including the Tanner Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest recognition available to graduate instructors at UNC-Chapel Hill.
I have also served in several editorial positions. Most recently, I was an editorial assistant for American Literature, published by Duke University Press. Before that, I spent several years as Book Reviews editor for The Carolina Quarterly (out of UNC). And while an undergraduate, I was the editor-in-chief of my college’s literary magazine, The Lanthorn, out of Houghton College (Houghton, NY).
This is my dog, who is lazy but, as you can clearly see, also quite delightful.