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David Mazella specializes in eighteenth-century British Literature. His first book, a cultural and conceptual history of the “cynic” and “cynicism” in Great Britain, is entitled The Making of Modern Cynicism (University of Virginia Press, 2007). A number of articles related to this research have appeared or are forthcoming from such journals as Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation and Texas Studies in Literature and Language. He has also published articles on Laurence Sterne, Thomas Hobbes, and George Lillo.
As a member of the department's Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, he helped to design and teach the now-required gateway course for the major, Introduction to Literary Studies. Subsequently, he published an article about the development of this course and its implications for curricular reform in Profession '98, the MLA's official forum for professional issues. He was named Teacher of the Year in 1997 by Sigma Tau Delta, the undergraduate English Honor Society. His contributions to undergraduate teaching were recognized in 1999, when he won the University of Houston Cooper Teaching Excellence Award, a university-wide teaching prize. He is a member of the UH Faculty Senate, and is currently Chair of its Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee.
He has held fellowships at the Huntington Library ('93) and the Thomas Reid Institute, University of Aberdeen ('98), and received research support from the Whiting Foundation ('94-'95) as well as several University of Houston internal grants. Most recently, he has worked at the Folger and the Huntington Libraries with support from the English Department's Martha Gano Houstoun Fund. This summer he will be in London researching his latest project, a literary history of the year 1771 (see below for description).
- Ph.D., Columbia University
- M.A., Columbia University
- B.A., Columbia College
Research Interests: ancient and modern cynicism; eighteenth-century British literature and culture; the historical reception of Enlightenment thought; history of rhetoric, literary criticism, and critical theory.
Current Book Project
1771: A Geography of Feeling
This is a literary history of a single year, as found in the Anglophone writings produced in a series of metropolitan or colonial settings: e.g., London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Philadelphia, Williamsburg, or Jamaica. Each chapter of the book will be organized around a single city as a site of cultural production, with some attention paid to its readers and writers, its prisons and playhouses, its schools and its coffee-houses, its pleasure-gardens and its public assemblies, so that the reader can develop a richer sense of each city’s literary, political, and intellectual life—the environment from which these writings sprang. By sampling the year’s writings and events in this way, this study aims to reveal the constitutive tension between some of the universalizing discourses of the Enlightenment’s polite, metropolitan culture and the countervailing pressures of local, regional, and “peripheral” cultures across the world. As a result, readers might be able to recognize the geographic dispersion of concepts like “commerce” or “feeling,” as these were communicated across greater and greater distances to ever-increasing numbers of people.
- “Diogenes the Cynic in the Dialogues of the Dead of Thomas Brown, Lord Lyttelton, and William Blake.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.2 (Summer 2006): 102-22.
- "'Justly to fall unpitied and abhorr'd': Sensibility, Punishment, and Morality in Lillo's The London Merchant." ELH 68.4 (Winter 2001): 795-835.
- "Some Implications of Curricular Change at the University of Houston." Profession (1998): 89-10.
- ENGL 3301: Introduction to Literary Studies
- ENGL 8353: Age of Johnson and Boswell