Humberto Garcia is an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Merced who specializes in British Romanticism and eighteenth-century literature, with a focus on Romantic Orientalism, postcolonial criticism, and global/transnational studies. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007, along with a certificate in Criticism and Interpretive Theory, and then taught at Vanderbilt University for seven years (2007-14). His book, titled Islam and the English Enlightenment, 1670-1840 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), offers a corrective addendum to Edward Said’s Orientalism; Garcia argues that British authors as diverse as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Edmund Burke, Samuel T. Coleridge, Robert Southey, and Percy and Mary Shelley not only were influenced by international events in the Muslim world but also saw in that world and its history a viable path to interrogate, contest, and redefine British concepts of liberty. He has published numerous articles on this subject in peer-reviewed journals such as Studies in Romanticism, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, and Studies in English Literature. He has also presented at many national and international conferences. His teaching and research seek to encourage intercultural dialogue between East and West, drawing attention to the formative role played by Islamic ideas, histories, and cultures in shaping English enlightenment discourses during the long eighteenth century.
He is writing a second book, titled England Re-Oriented: How Asian Travelers from India Imagined the West, 1750-1857, supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2015-16. This study considers how Asian travelers from India—Joseph Emin, Mirza Sheikh I’tesamuddin, Sake Dean Mahomet, Mirza Abu Taleb Khan, Yusuf Khan Kambalposh, and Lutfullah Khan—manipulated British guest-host relationships to develop a critical agency. Whereas postcolonial critics have focused extensively on European travel writings in analyzing the power-knowledge nexus Edward Said has theorized as “Orientalism,” Garcia considers much-neglected Indian and Asian writers who traveled to late Georgian and Victorian Britain. Far from expressing any inferiority, they adapted Britain’s vibrant entertainment media—drama, visual art, museum exhibits, postal letters, newspapers, and periodicals—to articulate their own vision of a Europe commensurable with Asia. These assertive cosmopolites thereby revitalized an Islamic-Persianate ethos of hospitality toward strangers to counter a chauvinistic British nationalism with an exuberant xenophilia: a love of the other-as-self. Garcia’s work revises British imperial and literary history by stressing generative cross-cultural exchanges at a crucial moment when ideas of East and West were still in flux yet gradually emerging as distinct social categories with the consolidation of British rule in India.
Journal articles related to this book project have been published in Common Knowledge (2017) and Huntington Library Quarterly (forthcoming). See the “Article Publications” tab above for electronic copies of these and other articles.
Courses Professor Garcia Teaches at UC Merced: ENG 067: Environmental Ethics in Beast Fables; English 102: Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century; ENG 10: Engaging Texts; ENG 107: The Age of Enlightenment in the Long Eighteenth Century; ENG 108: Romanticism and Apocalypse; ENG 109: Encounters with Islam in 18th and 19th c. British Literature; ENG 137: Islam in Literature; ENG 190: William Blake and Enlightenment Media.