1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Mark Edmundson

University Professor

208 Bryan Hall

Office Hours:

On leave Spring 2018.


Ph.D. Yale, 1985
B.A. Bennington, 1974


19th C American, 19th C British, Poetry, Romanticism


“The Heart of the Humanities: Reading, Writing, Teaching”, forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press, 2018
Why Write?, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016
Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals, Harvard University Press, 2015
Why Teach?, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013
The Death of Sigmund Freud, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2008
The Death of Sigmund Freud, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007
Translations: French, German, Dutch, Chinese, Hebrew, Korean, Turkish, Portuguese (Brazil), Greek.
Why Read?, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004
Nightmare on Main Street, Harvard University Press, 1997
Literature Against Philosophy, Plato to Derrida , Cambridge University Press, 1995
Wild Orchids and Trotsky, Penguin, 1993
Towards Reading Freud, Princeton University Press, 1990

Selected Essays

  • "My Perfect Season": Harper's Magazine, July 2016.
  • "Profanity as Weltanschauung": Los Angeles Review of Books, December 29, 2015.
  • "Test of Faith": American Scholar, Fall 2015.
  • "If Everything's So Amazing, Why's Nobody Happy?": VQR on-line, October 5, 2015.
  • "The Idealist versus the Therapist": New York Times, August 18, 2015.
  • "Football: The Lure of the Game": The Los Angeles Review of Books, Sept. 8, 2014.
  • "A Paint Factory Education": Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2014.
  • "The Gift" (fiction): Raritan, Fall 2014.
  • "Pay Attention": The Hedgehog Review, Summer 2014.
  • "Poetry Slam: The Decline of American Verse": Harper's Magazine, September 2013.
  • "Imagination: Powers and Perils": Raritan, Fall 2012.
  • "Do Sports Build Character or Destroy It?": The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 15, 2012.
  • "Under the Sign of Satan: Blake in the Corporate University": The Hedgehog Review, Spring 2012.
  • "Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? / A Message in a Bottle for the Incoming Class": Oxford American, Fall 2011. Chosen for Best American Essays 2012.
  • “Dwelling in Possibility”: The Chronicle of Higher Education (cover story), March 21, 2008.
  • “Alone at the Movies”: The American Scholar, Winter, 2008.
  • “The Zen Ten,” in University of Virginia Teaching Resource Center Bulletin, Fall, 2005.
  • “Humanities Past, Present and Future”: New Literary History, Winter 2005.
  • “Freud (and Shakespeare) in Love”: Raritan, Summer 2004.
  • "My First Intellectual": Lingua Franca, March, 1999.
  • "The Uses of a Liberal Arts Education": Harper's Magazine, September, 1997.
  • "Novel Characters: Don DeLillo Rewrites the Self": Yale Review, April, 1995.
  • "Coleridge" in The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism (Johns Hopkins University Press,1993).
  • "Vital Intimations: Wordsworth and the Promise of Criticism": SAQ, Summer, 1992.
  • "Criticism Now: the Example of Wordsworth": Raritan, Fall, 1990.
  • "Salman Rushdie: Prophet of a New Post-Modernism": Harper's Magazine, September, 1989.
  • "A Will to Cultural Power: Deconstructing the De Man Scandal": Harper's Magazine, July 1988.
  • "Keats's Mortal Stance": Studies in Romanticism, Spring 1987.
  • "Edmund Wilson: The Last American Scholar?": The Bennington Review, No. 12, Winter 1982.

Selected Recent Lectures

  • "Freud and the Future," a discussion: 92nd Street Y, New York City, March 22, 2016.

  • "The Life of the Ideal": King College, September 14, 2015.

  • "Real Life or Ideal Life?": Mary Washington College, August 26, 2015.

  • "Attention and Distraction Now": New York University, May 14, 2015.

  • "Why Football Matters": Lowell lecture, Boston College, October 15, 2014.

  • "The Soul of the Humanities": Phi Beta Kappa Lecture, University of Alabama, September 4, 2014.

  • "The Soul of the Humanities": Amherst College, April 16, 2014.

  • "The Soul of the Humanities": Ohio State University, March 26, 2014.

  • "Self and Soul": Cloud Lecture, William and Mary College, March 19, 2014.

  • “Terrible Beauty: Football in America”: Princeton University, McCandless Lecture, December 11, 2012.

  •  “Self and Soul: The Mortal Dilemma”: Houston Lecture, University of Houston, April 19, 2012.

  • “What Is a Romantic?” Department of English, University of Houston, April 18, 2012.

  • “Self and Soul: The Mortal Dilemma”: Knoll Lecture, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; March 27, 2012.

  • Scholar in Residence / Monterey Bay Community College / presenting three lectures:

  • “Are Football Stars Heroes?”  March 8, 2012.

  • “Can Music Save Your Life?” March 7, 2012.

  • “Why Does Love Have to Be So Sad?” March 5, 2012.

  • “Why Read?” Suffolk University: October 6, 2011 (Teacher chosen as first year reading for entering class).

  • “Why Read?”  Wartburg College (Convocation Address) – March 22, 2011.

  • “Self and Soul: The Modern Dilemma,” Portland State University (Keynote Address, NUCLA Conference), March 4, 2011.

  • Kings of Rock and Roll! Princeton University (Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers Conference), November 6, 2010.

  • “The Common Reader Now,” Princeton University  (ALSCW Conference), November 5, 2010.

  • “Why Read?” Simpson College (Convocation Address), September 5, 2010.


  • Contributing Editor, Raritan, 1991-

Honors and Awards

  • "Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? / A Message in a Bottle for the Incoming Class." Oxford American, Fall 2011. Chosen for Best American Essays 2012.
  • Kings of Rock and Roll named one of the best memoirs of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews.
  • "On Bores" named a Notable Essay of 2009 by Best American Essays.
  • Guggenheim Fellow for 2005-2006.
  • NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor, 2004-2007.
  • The New York Times Notable Book of the Year Citation for Teacher, 2002.
  • Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellowship, Fall 2001.
  • "Game Time" named a Notable Story of 2002 by Best American Short Stories.
  • NEH / Harry Jack Gray Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Hartford, Spring, 2001.
  • Sesquicentennial Fellowship, University of Virginia, Spring 2000.
  • NEH Summer Grant, 1999.
  • Sesquicentennial Fellow, University of Virginia, 1994 - 1995.
  • Senior Fellowship: Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change Fellow, 1992-1993.
  • Virginia Arts Council Grant for Fiction Writing, 1992.
  • Junior Faculty Fellowship, sponsored by the University of Virginia, Spring 1988.
  • Keats / Shelley Association Award, 1987, for the essay "Keats's Mortal Stance."