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Richard C. Sha Professor Department of Literature

Additional Positions at AU
Affiliate Professor of Philosophy
Member, Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
PhD, English Literature, University of TX at Austin
MA, English Literature, U TX at Austin
BA with Honors, U. Pennsylvania

Languages Spoken
French and Spoken Mandarin
Some Italian
Book Currently Reading
Catherine Malabou, The New Wounded
Professor Sha is the author of three books, the latest of which is Imagination and Science in Romanticism (Johns Hopkins, 2018). This book won the 2018 Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize for the best book published in Romanticism. His new book project, Modeling Emotion: Romanticism and Beyond, considers how scientific models and models of the self shape our understanding of emotion, and the costs and benefits of this shaping. His previous books are on the relation of aesthetics to sexuality in Romantic culture (Johns Hopkins 2009), and on the rise of sketching in Romantic culture (Penn 1998). With Joel Faflak he has edited Romanticism and the Emotions, published by Cambridge University Press. They are at work on Romanticism and Consciousness 2.0.

Professor Sha teaches courses on zombies and consciousness, why we need ideals and theories, the emotions, and on sexuality and literature. He has garnered three teaching awards, including the 2012 Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, and Outstanding Professor, bestowed by the Undergraduate Student Confederation of American University. In 2020 he will be a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bologna.
See Also
Literature Department
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Spring 2023

  • CORE-105 Complex Problems Seminar: The Examined Life

  • LIT-262 Literature & the Ethical Life

Fall 2023

  • CORE-107 Complex Problems Seminar: Are We All Zombies?

  • LIT-262 Literature & the Ethical Life

Partnerships & Affiliations

  • Eighteenth-Century Fiction, PMLA, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, European Romantic Review, Journal of the History of Sexuality

  • SUNY Press, U Delaware Press, John Hopkins  UP

  • Tenure and Promotion Reviews, Journal of the Social History of Medicine

  • Wellcome Trust History of Medicine Grants
    Evaluator of Grants

  • Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net
    Advisory Board

  • Keats-Shelley Association

  • Wordsworth Coleridge Association

  • North American Society for the Study of Romanticism

  • ACLS

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

  • Science and Imagination in Romanticism, 1750-1850,  focuses on how the sciences understood the imagination in the British Romantic period, and on how this understanding changes the ways in which Romantic critics should think about the imagination. 

Work In Progress

  • "Byron, Polidori, and the Epistemology of Romantic Pleasure” in Romantic Pleasure, eds. Michele Faubert and Tom Schmidt  (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming November 2010)  30pp.
  • "The Brain Science of Emotions:  Romantic and Modern Forms.  Back to the Future"
  •  Entries  "Ann  Batten Cristall,"  "John and William Hunter," "Sir Charles Bell," and   "Figuration in Romantic Scientific Prose" in Blackwell's The Encyclopedia of Romanticism (forthcoming)
  • "On the Romantic Imaginations we want and those we don't " in Blackwell's Handbook to Romantic Studies, ed. Joel Faflak and Julia Wright
  • Romanticism and the Emotions, a volume co-edited with Joel Faflak.  Contributers include:  Thomas Pfau, Rei Terada, Jacques Khalip, David Collings, Tilottama Rajan, David Clark,    and  Julie  Carlson.

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • American Philosophical Society, Benjamin Franklin Research Grant, 2008
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend for senior scholars, 2004
  • Andrew Mellon Fellowship, Huntington Library, 1999
  • Giles and Elise Mead Fellowship, Huntington Library, 1999
  • Andrew Mellon Fellowship, Huntington Library, 1992
  • Yale Center for British Art Fellowship, 1992
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2012-2013

Media Appearances

  • Cited in William Safire’s Column, New York Times Magazine, October 2007

Selected Publications

  • "John Keats and Some Versions of Materiality," forthcoming in Romanticism (fall 2014)
  • Romanticism and the Emotions , ed. with Joel Faflak (Cambridge UP, 2014)
  • "Blake and the Queering of Jouissance," in Queer Blake, eds. Helen Bruder and Tristanne Connolly.  Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 40-50.
  • Perverse Romanticism:  Aesthetics and Sexuality in Britain, 1750-1832 Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins UP, 2009.
  • "Volta's Battery, Animal Electricity, and Frankenstein," European Romantic Review 38pp. ms.
  • "The Imagination as Inter-Science," European Romantic Review Vol. 20 #5 (December 2009):  661-669.
  • "Towards a Physiology of the Romantic Imagination," Forthcoming in Configurations, 2010.
  • “Blake, Liberation, and Medicine,” in Liberating Medicine, eds. Tristanne Connolly and Steve Clark. (Pickering and Chatto, 2009)
  • “Othering Sexual Perversity: England, Empire, Race and the Science of Sex.” In The History of the Human Body in an Age of Empire, ed. Michael Sappol. (Oxford: Berg, July 2010)
  • “The Use and Abuse of Historicism: Shelley and Halperin on the Otherness of Ancient Greek Sexuality,” Romantic Praxis (January 2006)
  • “Romanticism and the Sciences of Perversion,” Wordsworth Circle 36 #2 (spring 2005): 43-48.
  • “Scientific Forms of Sexual Knowledge in Romanticism.” Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 23 (August 2001)
  • The Visual and Verbal Sketch in British Romanticism (U Pennsylvania, 1998)

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • 2004 American University Undergraduate Student Confederation Excellence in Teaching award
  • 2002 American University University Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in General Education

Professional Presentations

            "Romantic Science and the Im/Materiality of the Imagination,” MLA San Francisco, 2009

  • “Imagination as Inter-science,” NASSR 2008, Bologna, Italy, 2008
  • “Transcendence as Ideology:  Rethinking the Imagination through Science,”  British Association of Romantic Studies, Bristol, UK 2007
  • “The Romantic Imagination:  Physiology, Pathology, Neurology,” National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Seminar, 2007
  • “Towards a Physiology of the Imagination:  Romanticism and the Science of Mind,” NASSR 2006
  • “Artificial Insemination in the Eighteenth Century,”  Vital Matters Conference, Los Angeles, 2005


  • “The Romantic Imagination: Physiology, Pathology, Neurology,” National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Seminar, 2007 (DVD) in NLM Collection

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

Emotions and their histories, 19th-century science, literature and culture, Romanticism, Mary Shelley, William Blake, imagination, history of sexuality, the sublime

Additional Information

Richard C. Sha is the author of Imagination and Science in Romanticism, which was awarded the Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize for the best work published in Romanticism; Perverse Romanticism: Aesthetics and Sexuality in Britain, 1750-1832; and The Visual and Verbal Sketch in British Romanticism. Sha is an affiliate of the Department of Philosophy and Religion and a member of AU's Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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