David Kelman

Contact Information


Office: GH-438

Voice: 657-278-3315

Dept: 657-278-3163

David Kelman



My research is comparative and interdisciplinary: I investigate the relation between literature and other disciplines primarily in the Americas.  Part of my research focuses on the way politics gets redefined in 20th- and 21st-century narrative from Latin America and the United States.  I find that literary texts end up framing political discourse in terms of secrecy, conspiracy, and trauma.  However, I also address the very problem of relation, particularly the enigmatic question of comparison. I’m particularly taken by the way this question of comparison, which is of course central to the discipline of comparative literature, often emerges in crisis moments, when it is no longer clear what it means to engage in politics, to act ethically, to communicate with the other, or to respond to what is coming.  As a character from one of Ricardo Piglia’s last works states, “I compare what I do not understand.” 


2007, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, Emory University


2004, M.A. in Spanish, Middlebury College


2000, M.A. in Comparative Literature, University of Georgia


1995, B.A. in Political Science, Emory University   


Research Areas

20th- and 21st-century Latin American literature, 20th- and 21st-century American literature, political narratives and conspiracy theories, trauma and testimony, literary theory, theories of Walter Benjamin, theory and history of comparative literature.

Courses Regularly Taught

Latin American literature, 20th- and 21st-century American literature, world literature, 20th-century European novel, detective and crime fiction, film and literature, trauma and testimony, literary theory, comparative literature.


Trauma and Literature in an Age of Globalization.  Co-edited with Jennifer Ballengee.  London: Routledge, 2021.


“The Cut that Links: Paracomparatism in Caruth and Danticat.” Trauma and Literature in an Age of Globalization.  Eds. Jennifer Ballengee and David Kelman.  London: Routledge, 2021.


“Politics in a Small Room: Subterranean Babel in Piglia’s El camino de Ida.” Yearbook of Comparative Literature 63 (2017; published 2020): 179–201.


“The Discovery of Comparison: Transformations of Fortune-Telling from Philip K. Dick to Ricardo Piglia.” Angelaki 24.5 (October 2019): 73-87. 


“Spectral Comparisons:  Cortázar and Derrida.”  The Marrano Specter: Derrida and Hispanism.  Ed. Erin Graff-Zivin.  New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2018. 


“Comparative Literature in the Age of the Great Telematic Network.”  Special issue on “Literature: Secret: World.”  CR: The New Centennial Review 14.3 (Winter 2014): 111-138.


“To the Side of the Day: Comparison without Comparison in Pynchon (and…).”  Special issue on “Blindness.”  Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 46.3 (September

2013):  125-139.   


Counterfeit Politics: Secret Plots and Conspiracy Narratives in the Americas. Bucknell Series in Latin American Literature and Theory.  Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2012.


Walter Benjamin in Latin America, co-edited with Carl Good.  Special Issue of Discourse:  Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 32.1 (Winter 2010).


“Introduction: Walter Benjamin in Latin America.”  Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 32.1 (Winter 2010): 3-15.


“The Form of the Conspiracy: Ricardo Piglia’s Reading of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.”  Pynchon Notes 56-57 (Spring-Fall 2009): 57-73.


“The Afterlife of Storytelling: Julio Cortázar’s Reading of Walter Benjamin and Edgar Allan Poe.”  Comparative Literature 60.3 (Summer 2008): 244-260.


“The Theme of the Traitor: Disinheritance in Ricardo Piglia’s Artificial Respiration.” CR: The New Centennial Review 7.3 (Winter 2007): 239-262.


“The Inactuality of Aura: Figural Relations in Walter Benjamin’s ‘On Some Motifs in Baudelaire.’”  Actualities of Aura: Twelve Studies of Walter Benjamin.  Eds. Dag Petersson and Erik Steinskog.  Svanesund, Sweden: NSU Press, 2005.


“Diversiloquium, or, Vico’s Concept of Allegory in the New Science.” New Vico Studies 20 (2002): 1-12.


Office Hours

Spring 2024

T 2:30pm-4:30pm;

Th 2:30pm-3:30pm