Ben Bascom is a teacher and scholar of early and nineteenth-century American literature and LGBTQ studies. In his research and in the classroom, he draws upon queer studies methodologies to interrogate the relationship between power and desire, gender and sexuality, to better understand the history and cultural impact of norms and conventions. He is currently finishing up his book manuscript, "Feeling Singular: Queer Masculinities in the Early United States" (under contract with Oxford UP), which analyzes a series of eighteenth-century life narratives of figures who aspired to become important, memorable citizens through print but failed in epic and fabulous ways. This project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (2019) and Penn State University's Center for American Literary History's First Book Institute (2018).
Building from his work on the intersection of queer studies and material text studies, his second major book project seeks to interrogate the relationship between mental health and eccentricity in the nineteenth century, focusing in particular on the literary, cultural, and material signs of such interrelations. This project is tentatively titled "Eccentric Queers: Celebrity and Debility in Nineteenth-Century America" and has been awarded a research fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia for May 2023; additionally, a portion of it (on Rufus Griswold's queer panic) has been accepted for publication in J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. In many ways, this project responds to how our contemporary discourses around mental health are shaped by theorizations about social environments.
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research and Publications
- “Groping Toward Perversions: From Queer Methods to Queer States in Recent Queer Criticism.” American Literary History 32.2 (Summer 2020): 396–404.
- “Queer Anachronism: Jeffrey Brace and the Racialized Republic.” Arizona Quarterly 75.1 (Spring 2019): 23–47.
- “‘A thought struck me’: John Fitch and the Federal Republic.” Early American Literature 48.1 (Spring 2013): 153–76