Brian Goodman, Assistant Professor (Literature)
An east coast transplant, Brian Goodman is a new assistant professor in the Department of English. He arrived at ASU in August 2017, with a few intermediate stops after leaving his native New Jersey.
Goodman’s first stop in the west was Stanford University, where in 2006, he earned a BA in American studies with a minor in creative writing. He followed that degree with a Master of Studies (MSt) in English from the University of Oxford in 2007, and a PhD in American studies from Harvard University in 2016. Immediately afterward, he spent a year as a post-doc at the University of Chicago’s Pozen Center for Human Rights.
Last fall at ASU, Goodman taught “Literature of the United States Post-1860” (ENG 242) and “American Ethnic Literature” (ENG 333), in which he focused on American Jewish literature during the Cold War.
Goodman also serves as affiliate faculty of the ASU Center for Jewish Studies.
He united his passion for post-war literature with his interest in human rights in the “Literature and Human Rights” (ENG 494) class that he launched this spring. He is also at work on a book project, which is under contract for publication. The book examines the history of literature exchange during the Cold War, particularly the collaboration between American and Czechoslovakian writers.
“In the future, I would like to research post-war literature and the rise of discourses about the freedom of expression,” he said. “This issue is very timely.” One inspiration for him in this area is Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson, his mentor at Stanford. (Editors’ note: Adam Johnson is an ASU journalism alumnus and a Swarthout Award winner).
Goodman’s favorite author is fellow New Jersey native Philip Roth. Roth is the topic of one of the chapters in Goodman’s forthcoming book, and Goodman’s article, “Philip Roth’s Other Europe: Counter-Realism and the Late Cold War,” appeared in the December 2015 issue of American Literary History. He incorporates some of Roth’s work, including an excerpt from the novel Portnoy’s Complaint and the short story “Defender of the Faith,” in his ENG 333 course.
“‘Defender of the Faith’ is a good way to introduce students to post-War Jewish literature,” Goodman said. The story, which appeared in the The New Yorker in 1959, is about the interaction of two Jewish soldiers at a U.S. training camp in 1945, after the fighting has ended in Europe.
Goodman admitted that his fantasy course would take him back to his roots: a look at New Jersey authors and artists. “There are so many good ones to study. Roth, Springsteen,” he rattled off. But, he wonders, “Would enough students sign up for it?”
Image: ASU photo of Brian Goodman