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Dr. Thomas  Manganaro
Dr. Thomas Manganaro
Associate Professor of English

In his research, Thomas Salem Manganaro focuses especially on eighteenth-century and Romantic-era British literature with particular focus on the relations between literature & philosophy, literature & science, intellectual history, and aesthetic theory. He also maintains intellectual and personal interests in the Arab world and its relations to the European Enlightenment as well as to contemporary American culture. He teaches courses on the history of the novel, eighteenth-century literature, Romantic-era literature, literature and empire, Arab-American literature, literature and the environment, and literature and philosophy.

Manganaro’s book, Against Better Judgment: Irrational Action and Literary Invention in the Long Eighteenth Century, was published with the University of Virginia Press in 2022 and was awarded the Walker Cowen Prize for outstanding work of scholarship in eighteenth-century studies. Against Better Judgment focuses on people in literature who freely and knowingly know what they should not do — a condition known as “akrasia” or “weakness of will” in philosophy. While such conditions posed problems for Enlightenment philosophy, they also present authors with opportunities for literary innovation. The book traces how English novelists, essayists, and poets of the period sought to represent “akrasia” in ways philosophy cannot, leading them to develop techniques and ideas distinctive to literary writing, including new uses of irony, interpretation, and contradiction. Manganaro is also currently working on a new project on worldbuilding in the early realist novel.

He has essays published in The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Studies in Romanticism, and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture.

Selected Publications

Against Better Judgment: Irrational Action and Literary Invention in the Long Eighteenth Century. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022.


“Free Indirect Discourse and the Problem of the Will in Two Novels by William Godwin.” Studies in Romanticism vol. 57.2 (Summer 2018).

“Incoherent Intentions and the Need for Narrative.” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, vol. 47 (2018).

 “Akrasia and the Explanation of Action in Rousseau and Sterne.” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, vol. 58.1 (Spring 2017).


Jess Keiser, Nervous Fictions: Literary Form and the Enlightenment Origins of Neuroscience (University of Virginia Press, 2020). Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 54.4 (Summer 2021).

Daniel M. Stout, Corporate Romanticism: Liberalism, Justice, and the Novel (Fordham UP, 2017). Nineteenth-Century Contexts, vol. 40.5 (2018).

Sean Silver, The Mind Is a Collection: Case Studies in Eighteenth-Century Thought (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015). Configurations, vol. 25.1 (Winter 2017).

Ph.D., Duke University 2016
A.B., University of Chicago 2009
Contact Information
347 Humanities Building
(804) 289-8289
Areas of Expertise
18th-century and Romantic literature
Literature in relation to intellectual history and ethics
Literature and science
The novel
Arab-American literature and culture