Dr. Stephen Ahern
Position: Professor and Writing Centre Coordinator
Office: Beveridge Arts Centre 417
Phone: (902) 585-1517
Credentials and Fellowships:
Doctor of Philosophy, McGill University (1999)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University (1999–2001)
Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University (2013–2014)
Research Interests: British literature of the long eighteenth century; history and theory of the novel; cultural theory; affect theory and history of emotions.
Teaching Areas: Restoration and eighteenth-century literature; nineteenth-century literature; literary theory. (Current students can access course materials at acorn.acadiau.ca)
Professor Ahern's research is focused on British literature and culture from the Restoration to the early nineteenth century. His recent book, an edited collection titled Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic, 1770–1830 (Routledge 2013), investigates the uses of discourses of feeling 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 English Studies in Canada.
Professor Ahern’s current research investigates the usefulness for literary studies of insights emerging from the turn to affect across the humanities and social sciences. Publications resulting from this research program so far include: Affect Theory and Literary Critical Practice: A Feel for the Text, an edited collection with Palgrave Macmillan (2019); “Nothing More than Feelings? Affect Theory Reads the Age of Sensibility,” an article in The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation (2017); and “Professing the Ineffable: Love in Excess, Affect Theory, and the Matter of Romance,” a chapter in Approaches to Teaching the Works of Eliza Haywood, ed. Tiffany Potter (MLA, 2019). Current projects include writing a chapter for The Routledge Companion to Gender and Affect, and contributing the section on Affect Theory to The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory for upcoming volumes (2021–2024). Professor Ahern is also guest editor of the next volume of Lumen, the annual journal of the Canadian Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies.
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.