Peter Gibian

 Peter Gibian
Contact Information
514-398-4400 Ext. 00956
Email address: 
peter.gibian [at]

Arts 315
Arts Building
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Faculty Members
Associate Professor
Specialization by geographical area: 
United States
Specialization by time period: 
History & Theory of the Novel
Sociology of Literature
On Sabbatical
Areas of interest: 

American literature and culture before 1900 (especially mid-19th-c. "American Renaissance"); short story; public sphere theory; oral models for writing (oratory, conversation); cosmopolitanism, internationalism, transnationalism; critical theory.


Ph.D. (Stanford)
M.A. (New York University)
B.A. (Yale)

Current research: 

Two ongoing book projects: 1) one tracing the emergence of a “cosmopolitan tradition” in American thinking and writing over the course of the long 19th century; 2) the other exploring the influence of two competing oral modes of public verbal expression—oratory and conversation—on Whitman’s written poetics, defining contrasting but also complementary notions of the “public” and also of “public life.”

  • “Voicing Whitman: Poetry and Public Life in an Age of Oratory and Conversation.”
  • “‘American Cosmopolites’: Recovering a Cosmopolitan Tradition in American Writing and Experience.”
Selected publications: 


Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Culture of Conversation (Cambridge University Press, 2001; reprint 2009)

  • Awarded the Best Book Prize in 2001-02 by NEASA, the New England American Studies Association 

Editor and contributor, Mass Culture and Everyday Life (Routledge, 1997)

Articles and Chapters

“Writing between Worlds: Washington Irving and the Cosmopolitan Tradition in American Literature and Art” (In Progress)

“Competing Spatial Impulses in the Cosmopolitan World of George Washington Cable’s New Orleans,” special issue of Romantisme, on “New Scales of Regionalist Writing,” (Winter 2018).

“Beyond Aesthetic Tourism: Travelers and Locals in Sargent’s Self-Reflexive Subject Pictures,” in A Seamless Web: Transatlantic Art in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Marian Wardle and Cheryll L. May (2014). Link to chapter: 

“The Lecture Room as Contact Zone: Bayard Taylor’s Travel Lectures,” in The Cosmopolitan Lyceum, ed. Thomas Wright (2013)

“Anticipating Aestheticism: The Dynamics of Reading and Reception in Poe,” in Short Story Theories: A Twenty-First-Century Perspective, ed. Viorica Patea (2012)

“Hale’s ‘The Man Without a Country’ and America’s Postwar Crisis of National Belonging,” CRAS (Canadian Review of American Studies) (2012)

“The Image and Its Discontents: Hawthorne, Poe, and the Double Bind of ‘Iconoclash’,” Journal of the Short Story in English 56 (Spring 2011)

“Levity and Gravity in Twain: The Bipolar Dynamics of the Early Tales,” reprint of 1994 journal article, in Mark Twain’s Short Stories, ed. Harold Bloom (2011)

“Dr. Holmes: The Life in Conversation,” Oliver Wendell Holmes: Physician and Man of Letters, (Harvard University Medical School, 2009).

“Herman Melville, Cosmopolitanism, and Traveling Culture,” The Blackwell Companion to Herman Melville (2006)

"The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table," American History through Literature, 1820-1870 ( 2006)

“L’implicite, l’implication, et la complicité dans deux contes d’Edgar Poe,” L'Implicite dans la nouvelle de langue anglaise (2005)

"Conversations with Whitman," The Mickle Street Review (October 2004). 

"A 'Traveling Culture': Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature," Annals of Scholarship (Spring 2002)

"The Old Order on the Threshold of the Modern: James, Wharton, Adams," in The American Century (1999)

"People Movers: Snow, Pound, Muybridge and the Stop-Action Arts of Consumer Culture," in American Modernism Across the Arts (1999)

"Defining the Oratorical Culture of Victorian America: Elocutionary Style and Political Stance in Walt Whitman and Edward Everett," Intellectual History (Fall 1994)

"The Art of Being Off-Center": Shopping Center Spaces and Spectacles," Signs of Life in the U.S.A. (1994)

"Opening and Closing the Conversation: Style and Stance from Holmes Senior to Holmes Junior," in The Legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1992)

Book Reviews 

in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Journal of American History, New England Quarterly, American Historical Review, Modern Philology.

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 
  • Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 2009 (McGill University)
  • Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Research Grant, 2006-2009
  • Louis Dudek Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2007-08 (English Dept., McGill University)
  • Lois Rudnick Prize for Best Book in 2001-02 (given by New England chapter of the American Studies Association)
  • NASSA Teaching Award, North American Studies Student Association, McGill University, 2005
  • H. Noel Fieldhouse Award for Distinguished Teaching (given by Faculty of Arts, McGill University, 2003)
Taught previously at: 

Stanford University (Palo Alto, California)
Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts)

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