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Thomas Augst

Associate Professor of English

Ph.D. 1996 (History of American Civilization), A.M. 1992 (history), Harvard; B.A. summa cum laude 1987 (literature and history), Yale

Office Address: 

244 Greene Street room 514 New York, NY 10003

Office Hours: 

Mondays: 2:00pm-4:00pm, Wednesdays: 11:00am-12:00pm; and by appointment

Areas of Research/Interest: 

American literature and culture; literacy, print culture, and the history of the book; 19th century social reform and the development of mass media; the cultural geography of humanist enterprise; graduate training and program development in digital humanities

External Affiliations:

Editorial board, American Studies


Thomas Augst teaches courses in American literature and culture. His writing focuses on literary history of the nineteenth-century, interpreting diverse forms of literacy and media in relation to questions about ethics and self-cultivation, the organization of knowledge, and the cultural politics of modern liberalism. He is the author of The Clerk’s Tale: Young Men and Moral Life in 19th Century America (Chicago, 2003), co-editor of Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States (UMass, 2007), and co-editor of Cultural Agencies and American Libraries (2001). He earned his doctorate from Harvard University, and has received research fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities.


National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; Finalist, Prize for a First Book of the Modern Language Association; Honorable Mention, Ralph Gabriel Dissertation Prize of the American Studies Association; Helen Choate Bell Dissertation Prize in American Literature, Harvard University; Charlotte Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship; Jacob K. Javits Fellowship.

The Clerk's Tale: Young Men and Moral Life in Nineteenth-Century America.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2003.

Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States (co-editor). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007.

Libraries as Agencies of Culture (co-editor).  Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.

“Temperance, Mass Culture, and the Romance of Experience,” American Literary History 19:2 (Spring, 2007).

“Faith in Reading: Public Libraries, Liberalism, and Civil Religion,” Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States. 

“Finding Barnum on the Internet,” Common-place 5:6 (October, 2005).

"The Commerce of Thought: Professional Authority and Business Ethics in Nineteenth-Century America," Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies 27 (2002).

“The Costs of Character,” ISSUE 6 (Fall, 2001).

"Frederick Douglass, Between Speech and Print," Professing Rhetoric: Selected Papers from the 2000 Rhetoric Society of America Conference, Antczak, Coggins, and Klinger, eds.  Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2002.
Updated on 09/12/2016