Aaron R. Hanlon

Assistant Professor of English

Office: Miller Library 228 [ campus map ]
Phone: 207-859-5263
Fax: 207-859-5252
Office Hours:
Tu 4pm-5:30pm; W 10am-12pm and by appointment
Hanlon, Aaron R.


D.Phil., Oxford
M.A., Dartmouth
B.A., M.A., Bucknell

Areas of Expertise

  • British literature c. 1600-1815
  • US and transatlantic literatures to 1815
  • The Enlightenment
  • Literature and: history of science; epistemology; political theory
  • Knowledge organization
  • Conceptual engineering

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
EN120A ALanguage, Thought, and Writing: Styles of Persuasion
EN200 AFoundations of Literary Studies
EN200 BFoundations of Literary Studies
EN363 AThe Enlightenment and the Anthropocene
EN493K ASeminar: The Complications of Jonathan Swift

Professional Information

My research takes Enlightenment literary history as a basis for understanding how we organize knowledge, how the domains of reality and fiction interact in literature, and how science writing and the novel mutually construct our ideas of what we know and how we know it. I am particularly interested in literature's value for conceptual engineering, or its capacity to help us understand and refine knowledge concepts, like "data," "fact," "truth," and "knowledge" itself.

My first book, A World of Disorderly Notions: Quixote and the Logic of Exceptionalism, forthcoming in May 2019 from the University of Virginia Press, is about refining and engineering the concept of "quixotism," an important concept in eighteenth-century British and early-US politics and cultures that still resonates today in our descriptions of idealistic or misguided politicians as "quixotic."

My second book (in progress) is a study of the concept of "data" from its introduction into the English language in the 1600s to the end of the Enlightenment, and the role of narrative, especially fiction, theological writing, and natural philosophy, in shaping the meaning and methods associated with "data."

My courses at Colby are grounded in literature and literary history, but are also highly cross-disciplinary, drawing on knowledge and resources from history and philosophy of science, information theory, economics, and political theory. I believe the most effective way to pursue knowledge is to cultivate disciplinary strengths while working together across disciplines.

NOTE: I am on sabbatical for AY 2018-19.


A World of Disorderly Notions: Quixote and the Logic of Exceptionalism (University of Virginia Press, forthcoming in May 2019)

Order a copy of A World of Disorderly Notions here: https://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/5267

Journal Articles (peer-reviewed)
"Fanny Hill and the Legibility of Consent." ELH (accepted and forthcoming).

"Perlocutionary Verse in Augustan England." Modern Philology 114.3 (2017): 657-79.

"Quixotism as Global Heuristic: Atlantic and Pacific Diasporas." Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 46 (2017): 49-62.

"Margaret Cavendish's Anthropocene Worlds." New Literary History 47.1 (2016): 49-66.

"Toward a Counter-Poetics of Quixotism." Studies in the Novel 46.2 (2014): 141-58.

"Maids, Mistresses, and Monstrous Doubles: Gender-Class Kyriarchy in The Female Quixote and Female Quixotism." The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 55.1 (Spring 2014): 77-96.

"Re-Reading Gulliver as Quixote: Toward a Theory of Quixotic Exceptionalism." Connotations: A Journal for Critical Debate 21.2-3 (September 2012): 278-303.

"Unworthy Global Citizens: Quixotic Influence and the Underhill Legacy in The Algerine Captive." Comparative American Studies 9.2 (June 2011): 119-30.


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