Associate Professor of English
University Hall Room 415
Telephone: (847) 491-7187
Fax: (847) 467-1545
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."
For the academic year 2011 – 12, she was an NEH Fellow at the Newberry Library, where she worked on a book entitled "Fictional Matter: Empiricism, Secondary Qualities, and the Novel." This project explores corpuscular philosophy, the particulate matter theory advanced by Robert Boyle and adopted by John Locke, to argue for its influence on the eighteenth-century novel's representations of human identity, qualities, and perception. Her recent articles on secondary qualities and the novel 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.” She anticipates a project on utopian thought in American second-wave feminism.