Jerry Varsava, BA, MA, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Arts - English & Film Studies Dept


Professor, Faculty of Arts - English & Film Studies Dept
4-41 Humanities Centre
11121 Saskatchewan Drive NW
Edmonton AB
T6G 2H5



I hold a BA and MA in Comparative Literature and Aesthetics from the University of Helsinki, and a PhD in Comparative Literature from Vanderbilt University. I spent the first part of my career in the Department of English at Memorial University, moving through the ranks to the level of Full Professor in 1998. I joined the University of Alberta in 1999 as a department Chair. After an extended period of administrative service in a variety of roles at the departmental, Faculty, and university levels, I am now back to full-time teaching, and am greatly enjoying the experience. I am jointly appointed the Department of English and Film Studies and the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies, and teach courses in both departments. I take an interest in pretty much anything related to matters international--travel, current events, cultural developments, cuisine, etc.



During the early part of of my career, my research focused on American and continental postmodern fiction, e.g., Robert Coover, John Edgar Wideman, Thomas Pynchon, Peter Handke, Italo Calvino, among others. In recent years, I have turned my attention to a constellation of less experimental, but equally important writers. In line with this, I have published on such novelists as Don DeLillo, Michel Houellebecq, Jiang Rong, and Ha Jin. I review academic monographs on a regular basis. My current major research project examines the depiction of economic life in global fiction of the early twenty-first century, focusing on novels by, among other, Jonathan Franzen, Paul Auster, and Chan Koonchung.


My current teaching interests in American Literature are from the immediate post-bellum period to the twenty-first century, with a primary emphasis on fiction. I recently taught a first-year English course for the first time in a while, and greatly enjoyed the experience. On the Comparative Literature side, among other courses, I teach literary Science Fiction and, newly, Scandalous Fictions. I recently taught a graduate seminar in modern World Literature, with an emphasis on canon formation, to a group of quite wonderful students drawn from a number of countries; it was a richly rewarding pedagogical experience. In all of my courses, I emphasize the importance of engaging relevant socio-political issues, while calling for close attention to matters of literary form and rhetorical strategy. I am active in graduate studies, and encourage my students to energetically disseminate their research in various venues.


C LIT 242 - Science Fiction

An introduction to science fiction as an international genre and a survey of works and trends

C LIT 347 - Elements of Genre

Variable content. A detailed survey of the main features of one given genre, either narrative fiction, poetry, or drama. Not open to students who have completed C LIT 344, 345 or 346.

C LIT 350 - Literary Movements and Periods

Variable content. A study of an international literary movement or period in its historical, social, and cultural contexts.

ENGL 103 - Case Studies in Research

This variable content course introduces methods of literary research as an in-depth process through one or more case studies. Not to be taken by students with 6 units in approved junior English. This course can only be taken once for credit. Note: refer to the Class Schedule and the Department of English and Film Studies website for specific topics.

Browse more courses taught by Jerry Varsava

Featured Publications

Jerry Varsava

Amerikastudien. 2017 January; Forthcoming

Jerry Varsava

LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory. 2015 January; 26 (1):128-49

Jerry Varsava

Inquire: Journal of Comparative Literature. 2015 January; 4 (2)

Jerry Varsava

Studies in the Novel. 2014 January; 46 (4):517-518