Fiona Coll

Assistant Professor


315 Marano Campus Center

Office hours

FALL 2019
Tuesday 3:45-4:45
Wednesday 1:15-3:15
or by appointment 


Fiona Coll is Assistant Professor of Literature and Technology at SUNY Oswego. She is also Editor-in-Chief of The Floating Academy, an online collaboration of scholars who share interests in nineteenth-century literature and culture. Her research focuses on the intersections of literature, science, and technology; she is currently working on a monograph that explores how the automaton, a technological object that gave material form to fantasies of human exceptionalism, emerged as a discursive tool in nineteenth-century writing about the limits of human agency. Coll's published writing includes "'Just a singing-machine': The Making of an Automaton in George du Maurier's Trilby" and "The Victorian Automaton as Imaginary Prosthetic." Coll received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Toronto. 

Classes taught


ENG 204/800 MW 4:35-6:00 336 Sheldon Hall
ENG 265/800 MW 3:00-4:25 332 Sheldon Hall
ENG 362/800 MW 6:10-7:35 336 Sheldon Hall

ENG 204 WRITING ABOUT LITERATURE: In this course, we will explore how literature challenges us to embrace intellectual uncertainty. The radically indeterminate nature of literary writing offers us a chance to grapple with our responses to interpretive failure, lack of closure, and a mode of knowing the world that remains perpetually in progress. We will first read a series of short stories that play with our expectations of narrative interpretation and closure, alongside theoretical explorations of narrative form and function. We will then turn our attention to three longer works about what happens when attempts to master particular domains of knowledge go wrong: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831), Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (1921), and Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl (2005).

ENG 265 SOPHOMORE SEMINAR IN GENRE: 19th Century Gothic & Detective Fiction- How did the “surface realism” of detective fiction, with its investment in rationalism and empirical evidence, evolve from the uncanny, supernatural inflections of the gothic tradition? In this class, we will study the uneasy filiations between these two genres by comparing how each imagines knowledge, evidence, sensory experience, the lives of objects, technologies of observing, and the relationship between the past and the present, among other possibilities. We will also consider gothic and detective genres alongside theories of literary interpretation in order to ask how reading is like haunting and/or detecting.

ENG 362 THEORY, HISTORY, GENRE: In this course, we will explore the concept of genre as a historical, social, and technological phenomenon, taking into consideration issues of production, transmission, and reception of particular texts. That is to say, we will consider the material world of objects, economies, and bodies as it relates to the intellectual world of ideas, metaphor, and imagination. To do this, we will read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1831) as an anchor text to examine how an enduring Gothic classic came to be. We will contrast the print production of popular fiction in the nineteenth century with the digital production of electronic literature in the twentieth and twenty-first in order to ask what work—practical, political, and conceptual—is performed by the concept of genre today.


ENG 220/800 TR 12:45-2:05 306 Marano CC
ENG 322/800 TR 2:20-3:40 306 Marano CC
ENG 522/800 TR 2:20-3:40 306 Marano CC

ENG 220 MODERN CULTURE AND MEDIA-“The Meaning of Monsters.” In this section of ENG 220, we will analyze a variety of cultural forms that share an interest in examining what it means to be human. Using Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (1920), Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), and Daryl Gregory’s Raising Stony Mayhall (2011) as anchor texts, we will explore how humanist notions of embodiment, affect, and political subjectivity are questioned and complicated in stories about almost-humans. We will also read theoretical works that challenge humanist ideas from a group of perspectives that have come to be called posthumanist. Your work in this class will include discussion, staying current with your reading assignments, completing several short writing assignments and tests, and producing a research-based analytical paper.

ENG 322/522 19th CENTURY ENGLISH NOVEL-The nineteenth century has often been described as the “golden age” of fiction, a time in which the novel form took on a shape and function that we now consider conventional. In this class, we will explore how the emergence of the novel in Britain in the nineteenth century both reflected and constructed ways of thinking about a world that was in the midst of enormous cultural, political, and material change. Through our reading of representative nineteenth-century novels, we will analyze narrative techniques, approaches to characterization and emplotment, the concept of the novel as a site for ethical engagement, and the changing aims of authors and readers across the century. Your work in this class will include discussion, staying current with your reading assignments, completing several short writing assignments and tests, and producing a research-based analytical paper