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Caroline Levine

David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities

Caroline Levine

Goldwin Smith Hall


Seminar: Formalist Methods, Political Consequences

Caroline Levine has spent her career asking how and why the humanities and the arts matter, especially in democratic societies. She argues for the understanding of forms and structures as crucial to understanding links between art and society. She is the author of three books, The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt (2003, winner of the Perkins Prize for the best book in narrative studies), Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts (2007), and Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network (2015, named one of Flavorwire’s “10 Must-Read Academic Books of 2015”). She is currently the nineteenth-century editor for the Norton Anthology of World Literature and has written on topics ranging from formalist theory to Victorian poetry and from television serials to academic freedom. She taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before coming to Cornell, where she was co-founder of the Mellon World Literatures Workshop. She is a native of Syracuse, NY.

Graduate Fields

  • English Language and Literature


  • Victorian Literature and Culture
  • Detective Fiction
  • Formalism
  • Literary and Cultural Theory
  • World Literature
  • The Relations Between Art and Politics
  • Narrative Theory