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David Russell

Associate Professor, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles

Fellow, Society of Fellows, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (2012–2013)

Headshot of David Russell

David Russell is an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he teaches nineteenth and twentieth-century literature, and on the essay, the history of criticism, and psychoanalysis. He was previously an Associate Professor of English at the University of Oxford (2015-2023) and prior, a Lecturer in English at King’s College London. He obtained his PhD from Princeton University in 2011, and since then his work has been supported by the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard, and the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. David has work published or forthcoming in ELH, Raritan, and Victorian Studies.

His first book Tact: Aesthetic Liberalism and the Essay Form in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Princeton, 2018) is about the development in nineteenth-century Britain of a new mode of feeling one’s way with others in complex modern conditions. The book traces how the essay genre came to exemplify this sensuous new ethic and aesthetic. It argues that the essay form provided the resources for the performance of tact and analyses its techniques in the writings of Charles Lamb, John Stuart Mill, Matthew Arnold, George Eliot, and Walter Pater. Offering fresh approaches to thinking about criticism, sociability, politics, and art, Tact concludes by following a legacy of essayistic tact to the practice of twentieth-century British psychoanalysts like D. W. Winnicott and Marion Milner. His book, Essay Form in Nineteenth-Century Britain and of Marion Milner: On Creativity, is forthcoming in June 2024.