Claire Class’s research sits at the intersection of literary studies and sociology. Her book project, “Beyond the Chicago School: Literature, Gender, and Sociology in Modern America,” focuses on a cluster of reformers who deployed modernist techniques, such as linguistic collage and iteration, in their fiction and life writing to disrupt the institutionalization of sociology in the United States. It argues that Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman rejected the essentialism of early academic sociologists and instead sought to expose the knowledge sociology provides as contingent and to contextualize the experiences of African Americans, immigrants, and women. Ultimately, “Beyond the Chicago School” demonstrates how literary modernism allowed American progressives to rethink the ways knowledge is presented.
Class was formerly a Volkswagen Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Freiburg in Germany and an Assistant Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology campus in Nanjing, China. While completing her PhD, she researched at L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales in France and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She has also presented at conferences in London, Utrecht, and Dubrovnik. An enthusiastic globetrotter, Class is delighted to be back in St. Louis, jogging in Forest Park and sampling toasted ravioli in The Hill.
Class has taught courses in multi-ethnic American literature; feminist science fiction; film; gender and sexuality studies; critical thinking; and developmental, basic, and advanced writing. She enjoys helping students discover and interpret unusual texts, from neglected utopian novels to music videos to Twitter threads.