Tony C. Brown

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Cultural Stdy/Comparative Lit .
Rm 206 Nicholson Hall

216 Pillsbury Dr SE

Right now I am completing a book on statelessness. Primarily I approach statelessness as a problem of thinking existence outside of the political state, especially in Enlightenment philosophy, though the project began with thinking on the future: at some point, quite soon, as sea-levels continue to rise, certain nation-states (Tuvalu and the Maldives, among others) will be underwater. Citizens of these states face the prospect of belonging to a state that will, one day, no longer exist, at least in the conventional sense of a territorially-defined (more-or-less) sovereign nation-state. In a world ordered, as it is, into states, national or otherwise, they will have nowhere to stand. As a measure of how far-reaching our state-based world-ordering is, bear in mind that even if the citizens of no longer existing, underwater states could stand on water, the only place on earth they could thus stand without being within the official territory of one or another state is the high seas, in international waters, where it is nonetheless criminal to be without a nationality--one must be able to prove it--which is also what those from sunken states may have trouble securing. So the problem I began with was this: what does it mean to be stateless in a world ordered into states? In the Enlightenment, prior to the completion of our global states system, one could live outside of state; the globe had yet to be coloured with the reds and yellows of European empires as Conrad’s Marlow would have pointed out. Between Hobbes and Kant, stateless multitudes, under the heading of “savages,” become what philosophers, moralists, historians and political economists, among so many others, obsessively try to think, what they cannot put to the side, what they cannot stop talking about. I focus most specifically on the tendency to conceive stateless multitudes as not fully discernable from animals, and so as not indubitably human--which also turns out to mean being radically imperfect, almost to the point of not existing.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of Chicago, 2005.


  • Early Modern and Enlightenment Philosophy, Anthropology and Literature
  • Continental and Political Philosophy
  • Deconstruction
  • Aesthetic Theory and the Sublime
  • Marxism
  • Colonialism and Imperialism, with particular emphasis on the Americas and the South Pacific
  • The State and Statelessness
  • The Animal, the Human and the Non-Human
Courses Taught
  • Sublime Politics and the End of Existence
  • Statelessness
  • The Animal in Literature and Philosophy
  • Theory's Philosophical Background: Descartes to Hegel
  • Thinking the Unthinkable
  • The Sublime in Literature and Theory
  • Concepts of Literary Study
  • Literature
  • The Animal
  • Moby-Dick!
  • Literary Theory and Criticism
  • The Theory of the Novel
  • The Exotic, the Savage, and the Primitive in the Eighteenth-Century Novel
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Executive Board, American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies: 2018 - 2020
  • Books
  • Statelessness: On Almost not Existing (in progress)
  • The Primitive, the Aesthetic, and the Savage: An Enlightenment Problematic (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).
  • Articles
  • "Aristotle's Stateless One." Critical Inquiry 46 (Autumn 2019): 118-39
  • "How Savages Came into the World (Bernard Mandeville)." The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 59 (Winter 2018): 471-491
  • “Sides Views Split (A Response to Jodi Dean’s ‘A View from the Side').”Cultural Critique 94 (Fall 2016): 102-112.
  • “The Non-Representational Force of Exotic Figures.” In L’Europe et le monde colonial au XVIIIe siècle, ed. Luigi Delia and Aurélie Zygel-Basso, 137-47 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2013).
  • "The Time of Globalization: Rethinking Primitive Accumulation." Rethinking Marxism 21 (October 2009): 571-84.
  • "The Barrows of History." Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 37 (Spring 2008): 39-63.
  • "Joseph Addison and the Pleasures of Sharawadgi." ELH 74 (Spring 2007): 171-93.
  • "Cultural Psychosis on the Frontier: The Work of the Darkness in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Studies in the Novel 32 (Spring 2000): 14-28. (Reprinted in Heart of Darkness: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism, ed. Ross C. Murfin, 3rd ed. [New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011].)
  • Reviews
  • Review of Peter DeGabriele, Sovereign Power and the Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Literature and the Problem of the Political (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2015). Studies in the Novel 48 (Summer 2016): 244-46.
  • Review of Donna J. Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006). Cultural Anthropology 24 (November 2009): 747-51.
  • Single-Semester Research Leave, University of Minnesota, 2012
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, Huntington Library, 2007-2008
  • College of Liberal Arts Research Fellowship Supplement, University of Minnesota, 2007 - 2008
  • Faculty Residential Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Minnesota, Fall 2006
  • Faculty Summer Research Fellowship/McKnight Summer Fellowship, University of Minnesota, Summer 2006