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David Mazella

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Associate Professor

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). He has also published articles on Laurence Sterne, Thomas Hobbes, and George Lillo.

As a member of the UH Faculty Senate, he was also one of the founders of the UH Center for Teaching Excellence in 2010, and  served as its Director for two years, until spring 2013.  In this vein, he has published on curricular reform and eighteenth-century studies, inquiry-based pedagogy in literary studies, and the political stakes of assessment and organizational learning in higher education.  In spring 2014, these contributions were recognized when he received the University of Houston's Distinguished Leadership in Teaching Excellence Award.

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.


  • Ph.D., Columbia University
  • M.A., Columbia University
  • B.A., Columbia College

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Research Interests

Research Interests: eighteenth-century British literature and culture; the history of the British Empire; the historical reception of Enlightenment thought; history of rhetoric, literary criticism, and critical theory; historical and contemporary pedagogy.

Current Book Project

1771: A literary history

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, Philadelphia, and Kingston, Jamaica. It treats the writing produced in that year as part of a collectively authored text in the British Empire.  It focuses upon the year’s passage in each of these imperial cities and depicts a wide range of writers and readers producing and consuming literary works, periodicals, pamphlets, letters, and journals during that brief period. It attempts to reconstruct something of the everyday life of writing and reading in each city, and to draw connections between the everyday reading and rhythms of the city’s population and the more abstract literary, philosophical, and political genres that emerged from the cultural life of each city and region. When taken together, these chapters should help to reveal the diffuse imperial perspective created when these cities’ readers and writers become increasingly aware of one another.

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Selected Publications


  •  “English Departments, Assessment, and Organizational Learning,” (28 pp.; in Literary Study, Measurement, and the Sublime: Disciplinary Assessment, ed. Donna Heiland and Laura Rosenthal (Teagle Foundation, 2011), 228-255.
  • “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.

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