Alex Eric Hernandez is an Associate Professor in the Department of English where he specializes in 18th-century literature and culture and serves as Associate Chair, Director of Undergraduate Studies. His scholarship aims at an interdisciplinary approach to the period, balancing an attention to historical detail alongside theoretical frames that privilege reparation, description and anthropological curiosity.
His first book, The Making of British Bourgeois Tragedy: Modernity and the Art of Ordinary Suffering (Oxford), offers an innovative reading of how 18th-century tragedy developed in relation to the emotions of ordinary people. In it, he argues that a new crop of tragedies concerned with the misfortunes of the middle class imagined a particularly modern form of suffering across page and stage. New research continues to explore interests in religion, affect, critique and Enlightenment and looks to the materials through which encounters with the sacred were and are mediated across a long, wide, and deep 18th century. Among these materials: William Cowper’s sofa, a lady’s patchwork screen, Mohawk prayerbooks, and the contemporary Jane Austen devotional.
A former fellow with the Social Sciences Research Council, the Lewis Walpole Library and the Clark Library, for the past several years he has led an interdisciplinary working group on the theme of Postsecular or Postcritique?: New Approaches to Reading Religion which began as a working group funded through the Jackman Humanities Institute.
In 2021, he was awarded the Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Award.
Professor Hernandez was appointed Special Advisor on Liberal Arts Education in January 2023. He will lead the strategic planning to enhance liberal arts education and programming in the Faculty of Arts & Science. He will work closely with members of the Dean’s Office — including the Office of the Faculty Registrar — as well as with faculty colleagues from across Arts & Science.