Lee Konstantinou is an assistant professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research and teaching areas include twentieth and twenty-first century American fiction, postmodernist art and theory, comics, science fiction, and popular culture, as well as literary and cultural sociology.
His recently completed first academic book Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction (Harvard University Press, forthcoming) is a literary history of irony in the U.S. since 1945. This project tells the story of the rise of an oppositional ethos of irony, the incorporation of irony into mainstream media and political culture, and the development of an alternative “postironic” sensibility. Dominant debates about irony, this book argues, have treated irony not only as a trope but also as an ethos: that is, as a way of life, an attitude, or a total orientation toward the world. Each chapter therefore analyzes an important postwar characterological model that has a significant relationship to irony: the hipster, the punk, the believer, the coolhunter, and the occupier. Cool Characters interprets works by authors including Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon, William S. Burroughs, Kathy Acker, David Foster Wallace, Zadie Smith, Jennifer Egan, Michael Muhammed Knight, William Gibson, Jonathan Lethem, and Rachel Kushner.
He co-edited The Legacy of David Foster Wallace (University of Iowa Press) with Samuel Cohen. He wrote the novel Pop Apocalypse (Ecco/HarperCollins) and contributed a short story, "Johnny Appledrone vs. the FAA," to Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future (HarperCollins). He has published essays, chapters, and reviews in a range of journals and collections, and is an associate editor with the Los Angeles Review of Books.
He is currently working on a co-edited essay collection called The Comics of Art Spiegelman with Georgiana Banita and is completing a monograph on Helen DeWitt's novel, The Last Samurai. He is in the preliminary stages of a book project on the history of comics and the graphic novel since 1970.
ACLS New Faculty Fellows Award, 2011.
PWR Annual Research Award, Stanford University, 2010.
Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship, Program in Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University, 2009–2011.
Graduate Research Opportunities—Modern British History and Culture Award, Stanford University, Spring 2009.
Killefer Fellowship, Stanford University, 2007–2008.
Graduate Research Opportunities Award, Stanford University, Summer 2007.
Fellowship, Department of English, Stanford University, 2002–2007.