Adam PotkayAdam Potkay
William R. Kenan Professor of Humanities
College of William & Mary
Jamestown, Virginia

Adam Potkay is William R. Kenan Professor of Humanities at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he has taught since 1990. He has also been a visiting professor at Columbia University and at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He holds degrees from Cornell University (B.A., 1982), The Johns Hopkins University (M.A. 1986), and Rutgers University (Ph.D., 1990). Professor Potkay is also an internationally recognized scholar of 18th-century literature and culture. His numerous publications include The Passion for Happiness: Samuel Johnson and David Hume (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2000) and The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Hume (Cornell University Press, 1994). His most recent work, The Story of Joy from the Bible to Late Romanticism, won the prestigious Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association for best book in literary criticism and history. He is the co-editor (with Sandra Burr) of a collection of autobiographies and sermons by some of the earliest black writers in English, Black Atlantic Writers of the Eighteenth Century: Living the New Exodus in England and the Americas (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995). He has published scholarly articles and more popular essays in a wide variety of journals, from 18th-Century Studies and Studies in Early Modern Philosophy to Philosophy Now and Raritan Quarterly.

Adam Potkay leads the following sojourns:

Fell Walking with the Romantic Poets

News & Updates:

The Story of Joy Is Awarded the Harry Levin Prize

Professor Adam Potkay’s recent book The Story of Joy has been named co-winner of the Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) for best book in literary history or criticism. A professor at the College of William and Mary for over twenty years, Potkay’s scholarship has also been recognized in other prestigious ways: he is the recipient of a Plumeri Award for Faculty Excellence and was recently named William R. Keenan Professor of Humanities. In presenting the award, the ACLA made the following citation:

“Beautifully written, with verve as well as precision, Adam Potkay’s The Story of Joy examines the changing meanings and fortunes of the concept of joy in history, literature, and film. Offering a substantial and scholarly treatment of a neglected topic, this book is also quirky, interesting, and a real pleasure to read. Its arguments are clear and cogent, and it makes very helpful discriminations between related affective states. The author deserves to be congratulated for an important, genuinely illuminating contribution to the study of emotion as well as to literary history.”

Scholarly Sojourns joins Professor Potkay’s many fans in wishing him a heartfelt congratulations on this distinct honor.

“With The Story of Joy, Adam Potkay has written a deep and humane book, a work of impressive learning and intellectual agility that is at once challenging, sophisticated and a pleasure to read.” -Darrin McMahon, Florida State University, Review of English StudiesThe Story of Joy is available at Amazon.com.

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