Jonathan Arac's main teaching interests are US literature and culture since 1820; British literature and culture 1740-1940; literary criticism and theory; Milton and Shakespeare; the novel. At Pitt he has directed 19 PhD dissertations and served on the committees of 36 other completed dissertations. In 2018 he received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring.
Jonathan Arac first taught at Pitt in 1986, joined the faculty in 1989, and then returned to Pitt in 2006 after five years at Columbia University, where he served as department chair. Since 1979 he has participated in the editorial group of boundary 2: an International Journal of literature and culture, which since 1989 has been edited at Pitt.
While at Pitt he has also served in visiting or summer faculty positions at The School of Criticism and Theory, Oxford University (UK), Northwestern University, University of Augsburg (Germany), Columbia University, University of Naples “L’Orientale,” World Literature Institute (Harvard University).
He is author of five published books on American and British fiction, poetry, and social criticism. He has also edited seven published volumes or special issues of original essays by many hands on topics in criticism. He is currently working on two books: one on the novel in the US and on questions of language in American writing, in relation to issues of migration and world literature; and one on the history of English-language literary criticism since the 1960s . Most recently he organized and edited Gender, History and the Novel: “Desire and Domestic Fiction” after Thirty Years, special issue of MLQ 80.1 (2019).
From 2006 until 2018, he collaborated on The Keywords Project as a member of the Steering Committee. See www.keywords.pitt.edu This joint project between Pitt and Jesus College of Cambridge University (UK) culminated in Keywords for Today by The Keywords Project, ed. Colin MacCabe and Holly Yanacek. (Oxford UP, 2018). Since 2019 the Keywords Project has entered a new phase, halted by pandemic, of collaboration with colleagues at Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka.
In 2008 he founded The Humanities Center at the University of Pittsburgh, a project of the School of Arts and Sciences to foster advanced research, and he directed it through May, 2020.
Dissertation Workshop; Keywords; US Novel, 1850-1950
Introduction to Critical Reading; American Literary Traditions
Seminar on British Literature and Criticism 1740-1940; Seminar on Literature and the Sublime