John S. Gordon
Professor of English
Joined Connecticut College: 1980
On sabbatical 2014-2015 academic year
B.A., Hamilton College; M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University
Modern British literature
James Joyce - Finnegans Wake
"Literature is made of language, and language is one of mankind's two really stupendous inventions, the other one of course being money. Especially in the hands of someone with a special command of its resources — someone, say, like Shakespeare — it will always repay, with interest several times compounded, anything you choose to bring to it. Which is more than you can say for money." - taken from the conclusion of Gordon's privately-distributed guide to writing papers titled Summa Contra Boring.
Most of John Gordon's work has been on the writing of James Joyce. His two books published on the subject are James Joyce's Metamorphoses and Finnegans Wake: A Plot Summary and a monograph, Notes on Issy. He has also published some fifty articles and notes on the subject, and has delivered a comparable number of papers and numerous reviews.
He has been elected as a member of the board of the International James Joyce Society.
Gordon's book, Sensation and Sublimation in Charles Dickens, was published 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan. He is also the author of Joyce and Reality: The Empirical Strikes Back (Syracuse University Press, 2004.) The National Library of Ireland also published his monograph, Almosting It: Joyce's Realism.
Gordon's book, Physiology and the Literary Imagination, discussed the medical component of the works of English and American authors ranging chronologically from William Wordsworth to Sylvia Plath (University Press of Florida, 2003.) His operating principle has been that an author's work is likely to reflect his or her idea of what is happening inside his or her body and brain at certain critical moments, and that this idea in turn will often reflect contemporary medical theories on the subject. Two excerpts from the book, on T. S. Eliot and Gerard Manley Hopkins, have been published in scholarly journals. Various annotations of his have been incorporated into the Finnegans Wake database called FWAKE-L, a refereed user group on the Internet.
Earlier in his Connecticut College career, he did some writing of a popular, non-scholarly nature on contemporary issues of politics and literature, including a book, The Myth of the Monstrous Male and Other Feminist Fables, some twenty articles and reviews, many for the magazine Inquiry, and appeared on a number of radio and television talk shows and interviews.
Another work is "Summa Contra Boring," a college writing guide based on a document of the same name, which he has been distributing to his lower-level English classes for several years .
In addition to the introductory courses taught by all members of the English department, he has taught courses in Modern Poetry, Contemporary Literature, and most recently, "Modernism and Its Discontents," which alternates between canonical texts of the period, sometimes called High Modernism, and popular novels of the same time.