David A. Zimmerman

Position title: Elizabeth Ritzmann Professor of English; Director of Undergraduate Studies

Pronouns: He/him/his

Email: dazimmerman@wisc.edu

Helen C. White Hall, Rm. 6187

Research Interests

19th- and 20th-century U.S. literature, with an emphasis on the 19th-c. American novel; economics and literature; moral philosophy and narrative

Degrees and Institutions

  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley 2000
  • M.Ed., George Washington University, 1992
  • BA, Yale University, 1986

Recent Publications

Complicity and the Antebellum Moral Imagination (forthcoming)

“Structure, Network, Apocalypse: The Complicity Fiction of George Lippard.” J19 6:2 (Spring 2018)

“Complicity, Restorative Justice, and Charles Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn.” Arizona Quarterly 72:3 (Winter 2016)

“Charles Brockden Brown and the Conundrum of Complicity.” American Literature 88:4 (December 2016): 665-93

Courses Taught

“Thomas Pynchon”; “The American Novel after 1965”; “Imagining Apocalypse”; “Time Travel” (a.k.a. Introduction to American and British Literature aftter 1900); “Counterfeits, Passers, and Posers” (a.k.a. Introduction to American and British Literature after 1900); “Monsters and Ghosts” (a.k.a. Introduction to American and British Literature before 1900); “Enchanted Objects” (a.k.a. Introduction to American and British Literature after 1900); “Misfits and Mass Culture” (a.k.a. Introduction to Modern American Literature); “The American Novel before 1914”; “American Literary Naturalism”; “American Literary Gothic”; “Crane, London, Dreiser”; “Wharton, Jewett, Norris”; “Modern American Literature and the Scripting of Everyday Life.” Graduate seminars: “Literature Pedagogy”; “American Capitalism and its Discontents”; “Literature and Blame”; “Conspiracy and 19th-Century American Literature”; “American Literature and the Marketplace before 1914.”


Prof. Zimmerman writes songs about the literature he teaches and performs them for his lecture students. Here are a few of them. Take a listen!


Entropy’s Daughter (on The Crying of Lot 49)

I’ll Pass (on Dracula)

Blessings (based on the Ron Wallace poem, “Blessings,” with his permission)

Zimmerman writes pop songs, too. Here are a few.

The Big Bailout (on the 2008 financial crisis)

Beyond Me

Party’s Over

Recent Books

  • Zimmerman, David A.“Panic!: Markets, Crises, and Crowds in American Fiction.” 2006: n. pag. Print.

    A Nota Bene selection of The Chronicle of Higher Education

    During the economic depression of the 1890s and the speculative frenzy of the following decade, Wall Street, high finance, and market crises assumed unprecedented visibility in the United States. Fiction writers published scores of novels in the period that explored this new cultural phenomenon. In Panic!, David A. Zimmerman studies how American novelists and their readers imagined–and in one case, incited–market crashes and financial panics. Panic! examines how Americans’ attitudes toward securities markets, popular investment, and financial catastrophe were entangled with their conceptions of gender, class, crowds, corporations, and history. Zimmerman investigates how writers turned to mob psychology, psychic investigations, and conspiracy discourse to understand not only how financial markets worked, but also how mass acts of financial reading, including novel reading, could trigger economic disaster and cultural chaos. In addition, Zimmerman shows how, by concentrating on markets in crisis, novelists were able to explore the limits of fiction’s aesthetic, economic, and ethical capacities. With readings of canonical as well as lesser-known novelists, Zimmerman provides an original and wide-ranging analysis of the relation between fiction and financial modernity.

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