Thursday: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
& by appointment
- Nineteenth Century
- Science and Literature
- Atlantic Studies
Kieran Murphy is a native of Paris. After the Baccalauréat he moved to the United States to study engineering and fine arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Later, while completing his MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, he developed a strong interest in contemporary debates concerning the social and intellectual function of artistic productions in the modern world. He pursued this interest further as a doctoral student in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he specialized in French literature and philosophy, Haitian culture, and the interactions between literature and science. Before coming to Boulder he taught in the department of French and Italian at Dartmouth College.
- Electromagnetism and the Metonymic Imagination (Penn State University Press, AnthropoScene series, 2020)
How does the imagination work? How can it lead to both reverie and scientific insight? In this book, Kieran M. Murphy sheds new light on these perennial questions by showing how they have been closely tied to the history of electromagnetism.
The discovery in 1820 of a mysterious relationship between electricity and magnetism led not only to technological inventions—such as the dynamo and telegraph, which ushered in the “electric age”—but also to a profound reconceptualization of nature and the role the imagination plays in it. From the literary experiments of Edgar Allan Poe, Honoré de Balzac, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, and André Breton to the creative leaps of Michael Faraday and Albert Einstein, Murphy illuminates how electromagnetism legitimized imaginative modes of reasoning based on a more acute sense of interconnection and a renewed interest in how metonymic relations could reveal the order of things.
Articles and Book Chapters
"A Timeful Theory of Knowledge: Thunderstorms, Dams, and the Disclosure of Planetary History." Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 28.1 (2023): 87-98. Special issue on Water, Ed. Ewa Macura-Nnamdi & Tomasz Sikora https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0969725X.2023.2167786
“L’imagination volatile.” La Revue des lettres modernes. Écritures XIX 8 (2022): 337-350. Special issue entitled Le Réel invisible. Le Magnétisme dans la littérature (1780-1914), Ed. Victoire Feuillebois and Émilie Pézard. https://classiques-garnier.com/le-reel-invisible-2022-12-le-magnetisme-dans-la-litterature-1780-1914-l-imagination-volatile.html
“Flaubert's Encyclopedia, Table Turning, and Electromagnetic Rotation.” In Produire du nouveau ? Arts – Techniques – Sciences en Europe (1400-1900), edited by Jérôme Baudry, Jan Blanc, Liliane Hilaire-Pérez, Marc Ratcliff, Sylvain Wenger, 281-294. Paris: CNRS Editions Alpha, 2022. https://www.cnrseditions.fr/catalogue/histoire/produire-du-nouveau/
“What was Tragedy During the Haitian Revolution?” Modern Language Quarterly 82.4 (2021): 417-440. https://read.dukeupress.edu/modern-language-quarterly/article-abstract/82/4/417/293599/What-Was-Tragedy-during-the-Haitian-Revolution?redirectedFrom=fulltext
“Induction after Electromagnetism.” In Physics and Literature: Concepts – Transfer - Aestheticization, edited by Aura Heydenreich and Klaus Mecke, 179-196. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter GmbH, 2021. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110481112/html?lang=en#contents
- “Time and the Hydroelectric Dam.” KronoScope 20.1 (2020): 102-120. Ed. Raji C. Steineck
- “I am dead: Poe and French Theory.” Loxias 68 (2020). Special issue on L’influence de Poe sur les théories, Ed. Nicole Biagioli
- “Haiti and the Black Box of Romanticism.” Studies in Romanticism 56.1 (2017): 37-54.
Special issue on Black Romanticism, Ed. Paul Youngquist and Joel Pace
- “The Occult Atlantic: Franklin, Mesmer, and the Haitian Roots of Modernity.” In The Haitian Revolution and the Early United States: Histories, Textualities, Geographies, edited by Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Michael J. Drexler, 145-161. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.
- “Electromagnetic Thought in Balzac, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam and Joseph Breuer.” SubStance 40.2 (2011): 127-147.
- “Le Magnétisme, la grande chaîne des êtres et l’animal électromagnétique.” Epistemocritique. 7 (2011).
- “White Zombie.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies/Sites. 15.1 (2011): 47-55. Special issue on North America & the Caribbean, Ed. Alec Hargreaves and Martin Munro
- “Catastrophe Preparedness: ‘Eight Years Later.’” artUS. 26 (2008): 8-13.
- “Magic and Mesmerism in Saint Domingue.” Paroles Gelées: UCLA French Studies 24 (2008): 31-48.
- Editorial Board, Epistemocritique, 2013-present
Honors and Awards
- Dibner Fellowship in the History of Science and Technology, Huntington Library, 2022
- Schachterle Essay Prize, The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, 2012