Joshua Brorby

Graduate Student, Literature

My research focuses on translation, religion, and secularity in the British Empire of the nineteenth century, from its novels and artists to its workaday translators and far-flung travelers. My dissertation, Faith in Translation: Rewriting Secularity in the British Empire, searches the translational projects that redefined faith and the secular in nineteenth-century Britain. With attention to texts as disparate as novels by George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë and English newspaper reports on religious uprisings in China, my dissertation centers on the people who labored to introduce faiths novel to English readers, and whose translative programs shaped these faiths’ receptions. These exchanges, negotiated across uneven power structures, were often undertaken with a surprisingly earnest desire to be changed by the source text as much as to change the text itself. My research exhibits how, despite its messiness, translation has been imagined as the best tool we have for attempting to be truly plural. For translation challenges readers; it enlists the imagination; and it is the heightened grounds for defining faiths as much as finding their place in an evolving yet still exclusionary democracy.


“Seeming as Believing: Epistemological Uncertainty and the World of Annus Mirabilis.” Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700, vol. 43, no. 1, 2019, pp. 29-50.

Awards and Fellowships:

  • Mellon Seminar Fellowship, Fall 2019 "The History of Ideas," with Wolfram Schmidgen
  • Mellon Seminar Fellowship, Summer 2019 "Exploring the Social Life of Ideas," with Matt Erlin
  • Cornelison English, 1st Prize, 2017
  • Humanities Digital Workshop Summer Fellowship, 2016, 2017
  • Critical Language Scholarship, Summer 2011. Xi'an, China.

Courses Taught

  • E Lit 317: Topics in English Literature: Gothic Traditions: From Frankenstein to Dracula (Instructor) Spring 2019
    • Co-instructor: William McKelvy, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Writing 103: What is Justice? (Instructor), Fall 2017-Spring 2018
  • E Lit 324: Selected Writers: Jane Austen (Teaching Assistant), Fall 2019
    • Instructor: Amy Pawl
  • English Lit 3525: Topics in Literature: 19th Century Science Fiction (Teaching Assistant), Fall 2018
    • Instructor: Gary Wihl

Departmental Service

Peer Mentor, 2016-18

contact info:

research interests:

  • 19th-Century British literature
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