- B.A, M.A., Ph.D. (Comparative Literature), Yale University
Areas of Expertise
British fiction, 1850-present. History of the novel in England and France. Literature and morality. Realism, satire, and theory of genre.
- The Novel and the Problem of New Life. Cambridge UP, 2021.
- Satire in an Age of Realism, Cambridge UP, 2010 (paperback 2013).
Aaron Matz teaches and writes about the English and French novel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His first book, Satire in an Age of Realism, traces the blurring of realism into satire in the late Victorian period. Focusing on the novels of Eliot, Hardy, Gissing, and Conrad, and the theater of Ibsen, Satire in an Age of Realism argues that the transformation of Victorian realism into a more caustic mode helped grant it immense moral authority, but also led to its demise.
His second book, The Novel and the Problem of New Life, turns to a related question lurking in the history of the novel. The novel since the nineteenth century has displayed a thorny ambivalence toward the question of having children. In its representation of human vitality it can seem to promote the giving of life, but again and again it betrays a nagging doubt about the moral implications of procreation. The Novel and the Problem of New Life identifies this tension as a defining quality of modern British and European fiction. Beginning with the procreative-skeptical writings of Flaubert, Butler, and Hardy, then turning to the high modernist work of Lawrence, Woolf, and Huxley, and culminating in the postwar fiction of Lessing and others, the book chronicles the history of the novel as it came to accommodate greater misgivings about the morality of reproduction. This is the first study to examine in literature a problem that has long troubled philosophers, environmental thinkers, and so many people in everyday life.
Professor Matz’s essays on English and French literature have appeared in the London Review of Books, Bookforum, and elsewhere; his academic articles have been published in Victorian Studies, Novel, ELH, and other journals.
At Scripps he teaches courses on the Victorian novel, the modern British novel, the literature of the fin de siècle, modern drama, realism in fiction and painting, the history of satire, and the idea of character in fiction. He also teaches senior seminars on Hardy, Lawrence, and Woolf, and a graduate course on the Victorian novel at Claremont Graduate University.