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Frank Felsenstein

Reed D. Voran Honors Distinguished Professor in Humanities and Professor of English

RB 254   Phone: 765-285-8405  

Department of English
Robert Bell Building (RB), Room 297
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

My teaching and research have been closely interwoven. I believe passionately in the notion of teaching through research as the perfect model for instruction and learning.

While preparing for a new class on the History of the Book, I was fortunate in discovering in the Muncie Public Library the intact records of the day-to-day reading of the town’s citizens in the late nineteenth century. Muncie, Indiana, was the chosen site of the celebrated Middletown Studies started in the 1920s by Robert and Helen Lynd. It is arguably the most closely studied small city in the United States. With Dr. James Connolly, Director of Ball State’s Center for Middletown Studies, I am the recipient of an award of $160,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete the database of “What Middletown Read,” and to write an accompanying book. The database was launched in March 2011 (www.bsu.edu/libraries/wmr), and the typescript of the book has now been completed. The project was featured in The New York Times Sunday Book Review Section and in SLATE, the on-line arts review magazine. Emerging out of WMR, the NEH is also sponsoring a forthcoming international conference at Ball State on “Print Culture Histories Beyond The Metropolis” (15-16 March 2013). My class, “From Gutenberg to Google: What Kind of Future for the Book?” includes a significant section on What Middletown Read.

Changing fields, I have been editing the correspondence between Moritz and Vera Felsenstein, my own parents, when they were refugees from Nazi Germany during the 1930s. Working from approximately one thousand letters and several journals, I have pared down this sizeable archive into a chronicle that reflects the ostracism of German Jewry under the Nazis. I have been able to share their experience with students in classes on Holocaust literature. Canonical texts of this era generally describe the concentration camp experience and insufficient has been told about the situation of those who escaped. I am at present exploring publishing options for the manuscript of the work, which is provisionally entitled “No Life Without You”: A Refugee Love Story.

Lastly, I secured a contract with Broadview Press to re-edit and update my first published book, an edition of Tobias Smollett's Travels through France and Italy. More than thirty years later, newly available digital resources have enabled the discovery of new dimensions to the text that were not available during my first outing. The re-edited text was published in November 2011 (ISBN 978-1554810314). The edition appears on my course, “Constructions of Otherness.”

Previous books include Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture, 1660-1830 (Johns Hopkins U.P., 1995), English Trader, Indian Maid: Representing Gender, Race, and Slavery in the New World -- An Inkle and Yarico Reader (Johns Hopkins U.P., 1999), and Incle and Yarico and The Incas: Two Plays by John Thelwall, co-edited with Michael Scrivener (Associated University Presses, 2006).

Areas of Specialization:

  • Honors humanities
  • Literature and ethnicity
  • History of the book
  • Eighteenth-century studies


  • Graduate: John Locke and Eighteenth-Century Literature (ENG 650); Constructions of Otherness (ENG 608 and ENG 664); The Age of Milton (ENG 660); Remembering the Holocaust (ENG 650); Shakespeare (ENG 663); From Gutenberg to Google: What Kind of Future for the Book? (ENG 650); English Romanticism (ENG 665).
  • Undergraduate: Literary History (ENG 399); World Masterpieces (ENG 206); Three-Semester World Literature sequence (Honors 201, 202, 203); Constructions of Otherness (Honors Colloquium); From Gutenberg to Google (English Dept. and Honors Colloquium); Remembering the Holocaust (Honors Colloquium); The Age of Milton (ENG 472); Shakespeare (Honors Colloquium); British Literature II (ENG 280); Shakespeare (ENG 464)

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