George Phillips, Ph.D.

“I want my students to find profound connections with literature. This starts with reflecting on and refining our own practices of critical reading, and leads to enjoying new ways of approaching texts in their cultural and historical specificity, and to delighting in discovering how and why reading an old text matters today.”


Associate professor of English and chair of English

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., University of Kentucky – Lexington, KY
  • M.A., University of Kentucky –Lexington, KY
  • B.A., Emory University – Atlanta, GA

Study abroad at Harlaxton College, Grantham, England

Year joined Franklin



19th– and 20th-century British literature; modernism and modernity; colonial and postcolonial literature; visual culture studies; literary theory

What do you emphasize in your teaching?

My priority is for my students to become more aware of how they approach the world. When we read a book—or when we interpret a painting, or a symphony, or a tweet, or any thing that captures our attention—we are usually bringing a set of expectations about how we should understand that thing. I want my classes to be mindful of those expectations, and to consider what new approaches are available.

Why is studying English important?

An English degree will help prepare you for the rest of your life. Studying English develops vital skills, all of which are important to employers in virtually every field as well as being necessary for a good life: clear written and oral communication, critical thinking, research methods, ethical decision-making, empathy, and applying your knowledge to complex and dynamic problems. And, I would add, studying English is a lot of fun. We share ideas, have lively debates about big questions, commune with the dead (we call this reading), and more. And this—enjoying what you are doing with your life—is important, no?

What is undergraduate research in English? Can I conduct it at Franklin?

The faculty in English and creative writing at Franklin are eager to mentor undergraduate research at all levels by helping students form, pursue, and answer the questions that are most meaningful to them. The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) defines undergraduate research as “an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline.” In the field of English, this could take several forms, from using archival material or theoretical insight in order to shed new light on an author or literary work, to developing digital text-mapping tools. In creative writing, students have worked on imitation or apprentice projects, long-form creative works, and independent studies of particular genres. Studies show that undergraduate research benefits students at all levels, so no matter where you are in your education, if you have a question you want to pursue or a desire to collaborate with faculty on research, let us know.

Selected Professional Accomplishments


Entries on George Lamming; The South African (Anglo-Boer) War (1899-1902); Georg Simmel; and The Machine Age. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. Ed. Stephen Ross. London: Routledge. Under contract (expected release date: 2016).
“Structures of Irony: Curiosity and Fetishism in Late Imperial London.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 44.3 (Winter 2011): 424-43.
Entry on Louis MacNeice. The Facts on File Companion to British Poetry, 1900 to the Present. Ed. James Persoon and Robert R. Watson. New York: Facts on File, 2009.
“Memory, War, and Emotion: disClosure Interviews Jay Winter.” disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory 16 (2007): 23-34. Co-conducted with Brandon Absher.
Review of Nietzsche on Gender: Beyond Man and Woman by Frances Nesbitt Oppel. disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory 15 (2006): 128-9.
“The Protean Text of Ulysses and Why All Texts Are Equally Definitive.” Hypermedia Joyce Studies 4.2 (December 2003/January 2004): n. pag. Web.
Review of The Cure (poetry) by Sarah Gorham. Wind 92 (2004): 101-5.

Selected Conference Papers and Invited Presentations

Keynote address, University of Kentucky’s Graduate Symposium on Bound Books: Literature of the Long and Wide, Mar. 2016. (invited)
“Modern Values: Global Modernisms and the American Humanities Debate,” South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Atlanta, Nov. 2014.
“Lamming, Deforestation, and the Limits of the Human,” West Indian Literature Conference, University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Bridgetown, Barbados, Oct. 2014.
“Slow Violence, Forms of Witness, and In the Castle of My Skin,” The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, Feb. 2014.
“Transnational Mediations: Woolf, Lamming, and the Space Between,” seminar paper (topic: Modernism and the Sea), Modernist Studies Association, Las Vegas, Oct. 2012.
“Curiosity as Ironic Response: E. M. Forster at the British Empire Exhibition,” The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900, Feb. 2011.
“Henry James and the Poetics of Authentic Display,” Midwest Association of British Studies, Cleveland, Oct. 2010.
“Recognition and Its Discontents: Yinka Shonibare’s Dorian Gray,” New Narrative Conference, University of Toronto, May 2010.
“Impressionism, Modernism, and Postcolonialism, 1950-Present: A Literary Perspective,” University of Kentucky Art Museum, Apr. 2010. (invited)
“‘All the sins you have never had the courage to commit’: Oscar Wilde, Ethics, and Representation.” Modernist Studies Association, Long Beach, CA, Nov. 2007.
“Irony, Intimacy, and the Crisis of Selfhood in T. S. Eliot’s Early Poetry,” Modernist Studies Association, University of Tulsa, Oct. 2006.

Something My Colleagues Don’t Know about Me

Something my colleagues don’t know about me: I’ve done three triathlons (one as part of a team). Other things they may or may not know: I am a fervid believer of being immersed in beautiful and/or intellectually powerful things; in working hard; in treating people with kindness; in listening carefully; in considering how my light is spent; in setting a good example; and in thinking before doing (or, at the very least, thinking-while-doing, then reflecting, and doing better next time). Taken together, that is an incomplete list of why I want to spend my life teaching at the college level.