Dennis Foster

Professor, Daisy Dean Frensley Chair in English Literature


Ph.D., University of California at Irvine

Dennis Foster holds the D. D. Frensley Chair in English and the Dedman Family Distinguished Professorship (2008-2009). He has chaired the Department of English (1996-2005) and has twice served as Director of Graduate Studies for English and once as President of the Faculty Senate. His research interests are in psychoanalysis and literary theory, particularly with regard to Modernist literature. Currently, he is exploring the relation of digital humanities to the development of literary studies and in the role of science and medicine in literature.

Areas of Interest

  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Critical Theory
  • Digital Humanities

Selected Publications


    • Perversion and the Social Relation l Essays edited with Molly Rothenberg and Slavoj Zizek.  Duke University Press, 2003. 
    • Sublime Enjoyment:  On the Perverse Motive in American Literature, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
    • Confession and Complicity in Narrative, Cambridge University Press, 1987.


      • "The Ambiguity of Perverse Analysis," with Molly Rothenberg, introduction to Perversion and the Social Relation, Duke University Press, 2003, 1-14.
      • "Fatal West: W.S. Burroughs's Perverse Destiny", in Perversion and the Social Relation, Duke University Press, 2003, 15-37.
      • ""The little children can be bitten':  A Hunger for Dracula," in Bedford critical edition of Dracula, 2002.  Reprinted in “Dracula: Bram Stoker 1847-1912,” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 144, ed. Janet Witalec (Farmington Hills MI: Gale 2004):246-364. 
      • "Pleasure and Community in Cultural Criticism," a review essay on Jean-François Lyotard and Jean-Luc Nancy, ALH (Spring 1994): 371-382. Reprinted in The Politics of Community," ed., Michael Strysick, The Davies Group, 2002.
      • "J. G. Ballard's Empire of the Senses," PMLA (May 1993): 519-532.
      • "Re-Poe Man: A Problem of Pleasure," Arizona Quarterly 46.4 (1990): 1-26.
      • "Alphabetic Pleasures: The Names," The South Atlantic Quarterly, 89 (1990): 395-411; a special issue on Don DeLillo. Volume republished as Introducing Don DeLillo, ed. Frank Lentricchia, Duke U.P., 1991.
      • "Interpretation and Betrayal: Talking with Authority," Reclaiming Pedagogy.  So. Illinois U.P., 1989: 35-48; a collection of essays on theory and the teaching of writing.
      • "Maisie Supposed to Know: An Amo(u)ral Analysis," The Henry James Review (1984):  207-215.
      • "All Here Is Sin: The Obligation in The Unnamable," Boundary 2 (1983):81-100.
      • "The Embroidered Sin: Confessional Evasion in The Scarlet Letter," Criticism 25 (1983):  141-163; reprinted in The Scarlet Letter, Norton Critical Ed., 1988.