Dr. Stephen Ahern

Photo of Dr. Stephen Ahern

Position: Professor and Writing Centre Coordinator

Office: Beveridge Arts Centre 417
Phone: (902) 585-1517
E-Mail: stephen.ahern@acadiau.ca

Research Interests: British literature of the long eighteenth century; history and theory of the novel; cultural theory; history of emotions and affect theory; pedagogies of reading and writing.

Teaching Areas: Restoration and eighteenth-century literature; nineteenth-century literature; literary theory.

Professor Ahern's research is focused on British literature and culture from the Restoration to the early nineteenth century.  His most recent book, an edited collection titled Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic, 1770–1830 (Ashgate 2013), investigates the uses of discourses of feeling and emotion for political ends in writings about slavery and abolition.  His first book, Affected Sensibilities: Romantic Excess and the Genealogy of the Novel 1680-1810 (AMS 2007), argues for the importance of an ethos of emotional excess at work far earlier than acknowledged in standard accounts of the rise of the novel.  He has also published articles on Behn's fiction and on Tennyson's verse, and contributed a chapter on the translation of early French novels to the Oxford History of Literary Translation in English.  His essay investigating "The Sex of Spleen and the Body of Sensibility in Early Romantic Lyric" appeared in the collection The English Malady: Enabling and Disabling Fictions, and the essay cluster he edited on the topic "Diagnosing Romanticism" featured in a recent issue of English Studies in Canada. Professor Ahern’s current project emerges out of his recent work in the burgeoning field of affect theory.  This project, an edited collection titled A Feel for the Text: Affect Theory and Literary Critical Practice, is being developed with Palgrave Macmillan for their new series “Studies in Affect Theory and Literary Criticism.”

As Acting Director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnocultural Diversity (ACSED), Professor Ahern works to foster interdisciplinary research on the Acadia campus and in the wider community. He was lead organizer of an International Workshop on migration issues hosted by ACSED in 2010.  Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, this event brought together scholars from many countries to discuss the pressing need for comparative perspectives on both external and internal migration of populations.  A lasting outcome of this meeting is the essay collection Migration, Globalization, and the State (Palgrave 2013), to which Professor Ahern contributed a lead article on the rhetoric of sentimental humanitarianism and the legacies of forced migration.

As Coordinator of the Writing Centre, Professor Ahern is also engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  He has completed a multidisciplinary project with colleagues in Psychology and History to study the academic achievement and well-being of international students whose first language is not English.

Credentials and Fellowships:

  • Doctor of Philosophy, McGill University (1999)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University (1999–2001)
  • Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University (2013–2014)