Nancy Armstrong

Gilbert, Louis, and Edward Lehrman Professor of English in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

External Address: 
304C Allen Bldg, English Dept., Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90015, Durham, NC 27708-0015
(919) 668-0314

Nancy Armstrong has served as editor of the journal Novel: A Forum on Fiction since 1996 and serves as co-organizer of The Novel Project at Duke, a faculty research seminar. Her scholarship explains how novels imagine a world that can be inhabited (or not) in specific ways by historically and culturally variable readerships. Currently focused on the contemporary novel, she continues to address questions of how modern cultures imagine themselves as a political society: Have, do, or can novels imagine alternative social formations?  What narrative mechanisms make it possible for them to do so?  How do novels presume to change their readers in the process?  How do these "arguments" against the status quo engage political theories that attempt the same feat? Can any such alternative leave the formation we call "the family" intact?


  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison 1977
  • B.A., State University of New York at Buffalo 1966
  • Undergraduate, Biology, Wellesley College 1956 - 1958

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. The Conversion Effect: Aspects of the American Network Novel. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016.

The Ideology of Conduct: (Routledge Revivals) Essays in Literature and the History of Sexuality. Ed. L Tennenhouse and N Armstrong. Routledge, 2014. (Edited Book)

The Violence of Representation (Routledge Revivals): Literature and the History of Violence. Ed. N Armstrong and L Tennenhouse. December 2, 2013. (Edited Book)

Theories of the Novel Now, I, II, III. Ed. N Armstrong. 2011. (Edited Book)

The Future of the Human. Ed. N Armstrong and W Montag. 2009. (Edited Book)

The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature. Ed. DS Kastan and N Armstrong. Oxford University Press, 2006. (Edited Book)

Armstrong, N. How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism 1719-1900. Columbia University Press, 2005.

Armstrong, N. Fiction in the Age of Photography: The Legacy of British Realism. Harvard University Press, 1999.

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. The Imaginary Puritan: Literature, Intellectual Labor, and the Origins of Personal Life. University of California Press, 1992.

Deseo y ficción doméstica: Una Historia Política De La Novela. Trans. N Armstrong. Universitat de València, January 1991.


Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. "How to Imagine Community Without Property." de Homenagem a Maria Irene Ramalho Santos: American Literature In a Comparative Context. Impressa da Universidade de Comimbra, 2016. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "A Gothic History of the British Novel." New Directions in the History of the Novel. Ed. P Parrinder. Palgrave, February 1, 2014. 103-120. (Chapter) Full Text

Tennenhouse, , and Armstrong, N. "The Network Novel and How It Unsettled the Domestic Fiction." Ed. S Arata, J Wicke, and J Hunter. Blackwell’s, 2014. 103-120.

Armstrong, N. "On Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man, 24 February 1871." BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. D Felluga. 2013. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "The Sensation Novel." The Oxford History of the Novel in English Volume 3: The Nineteenth-Century Novel 1820-1880. Ed. J Kucich and JB Taylor. Oxford University Press, 2011. 137-153. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "The Other Side of Modern Individualism: Locke and Defoe." Individualism: The Cultural Logic of Modernity. Ed. Z Meer. Lexington Books, 2011. 111-120. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "When Sexuality Meets Gender in the Victorian Novel." The Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel. Ed. D David. Cambridge University Press, 2010. 97-124. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "Afterword." Modernist Star Maps. Ed. J Goldman and A Jaffe. Ashgate, 2010. 237-244. (Afterword)

Armstrong, N. "1798: Mary Rowlandson and the Alien and Sedition Acts." A New Literary History of America. Ed. G Marcus and W Sollers. Harvard University Press, 2009. (Chapter)

Armstrong, N. "The Gothic Austen." A Companion to Jane Austen. Ed. C Johnson and C Tuite. Blackwell’s, 2009. 237-247. (Chapter) Full Text


Armstrong, N. "Do Wasps Just Want to Have Fun? Darwin and the Question of Variation." differences 27.3 (December 2016): 1-19. Full Text

Armstrong, N. "Introduction: Property and Heterotopia." Novel 49.1 (May 2016): 1-4. Full Text Open Access Copy

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. "Recalling Cora: Family Resemblances in The Last of the Mohicans." American Literary History 28.2 (April 2016): 223-245. Full Text

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. "Recalling Cora: Family Resemblances in the Last of the Mohicans." American Literary History 28 (2016): 1-23. (Essay)

Armstrong, N, and Tennenhouse, L. "Novels before Nations: How Early US Novels Imagined Community." Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 42.4 (2015): 353-369. Full Text

Armstrong, N. "The affective turn in contemporary fiction." Contemporary Literature 55.3 (January 1, 2014): 441-465.

Armstrong, N. "Hawthorne on the Paradox of Popular Sovereignty." Ed. N Ruttenberg. Novel: A Forum on Fiction 47 (2014): 24-42. (Essay)

Armstrong, N. "When Sympathy Fails: The Affective Turn in Contemporary Fiction." SPELL: The Journal of the Swiss Professors of English Literature and Language (2014): 27-49.

Armstrong, N. "Gender Must Be Defended." SOUTH ATLANTIC QUARTERLY 111.3 (2012): 529-547. Full Text

Armstrong, N. "The Victorian Archive and its Secret." NINETEENTH-CENTURY CONTEXTS-AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL 34.5 (2012): 529-547. (Essay) Full Text


Kavanaugh, JB, Armstrong, and N, . "Reviews: Emily Brontë by James Kavanagh; Victorian Women’s Freedom: Marriage, Freedom, and the Individual by Shirley Foster." Victorian Studies 29.3 (1986): 292-294. (Review)

Armstrong, and N, . "Review of Charlotte Brontë and Sexuality; Sexuality and Victorian Literature by John Maynard." Victorian Studies 29.3 (1986): 483-485. (Review)