Helen Thompson Associate Professor of English; Director of Graduate Studies - Department of English
Helen Thompson (Ph.D. Duke, English; M.A. Johns Hopkins, The Writing Seminars; B.A. Amherst College, English and Chemistry) teaches eighteenth-century British literature, philosophy, and the history of science. She is an affiliate of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, where she teaches feminist theory and second-wave feminism. She is author of Ingenuous Subjection: Power and Compliance in the Eighteenth-Century Domestic Novel (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005). She has published articles in Eighteenth Century Studies, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, ELH, Journal for Early Modern Studies, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction, and co-edited (with Natania Meeker) a special issue of ECTI (Fall 2007) on "Empiricism, Substance, Narrative." Thompson has been awarded the 2016 E. LeRoy Hall Award for Excellence in Teaching, and was placed on the 2015 Associated Student Government faculty honor roll.
As an offshoot of her interest in second-wave feminism, sustained by her lecture class for Gender & Sexuality Studies (GSS 231, Feminism as Cultural Critique: The Second Wave), Thompson hopes to undertake a study of second-wave representations of utopian corporeality.
For the academic year 2011–12, she was an NEH Fellow at the Newberry Library, where she worked on a book exploring corpuscular matter theory, the chemical account of particulate matter advanced by Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton, to argue for its influence on scientific and novelistic forms of knowledge. Recent articles related to this project include: "Secondary Qualities and Masculine Form in Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison” and "It was impossible to know these people': Secondary Qualities and the Form of Character in A Journal of the Plague Year.” Thompson's book, Fictional Matter: Empiricism, Corpuscles, and the Novel, will be published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in early 2017. She anticipates further work on eighteenth-century corpuscles and perception in relation to new materialist and feminist treatments of physical reality.