Nancy Armstrong has devoted her career to explaining how novels imagine a world that can be inhabited (or not) in specific ways by historically and culturally variable readerships. She teaches eighteenth through twenty-first century literature and critical theory, and she serves as editor of the journal Novel: A Forum on Fiction, a position she has held since 1996. At the moment, she is co-authoring a book with Leonard Tennenhouse titled "The Conversion Effect: Early American Aspects of the Novel" and writing essays about contemporary fiction.
18th-20th century Anglophone literatures and cultures
How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism 1719-1900.
Columbia University Press,
Fiction in the Age of Photography: The Legacy of British Realism.
Harvard University Press,
The Imaginary Puritan: Literature, Intellectual Labor, and the Origins of Personal Life.
University of California Press,
Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel.
Readers may be divided into four classes: 1. Sponges, who absorb all that they read and return it in nearly the same state, only a little dirtied. 2. Sand-glasses, who retain nothing and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time. 3. Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read. 4. Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge