United States Air Force Academy

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Dr. Daniel Couch

Associate Professor of English

Department of English and Fine Arts

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Daniel Couch is Associate Professor of English at the U.S. Air Force Academy. From 2016-2017 he was a postdoctoral visiting scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and from 2015-2016 he was a dissertation fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

His first book, American Fragments: The Political Aesthetic of Unfinished Forms in the Early Republic, was released with University of Pennsylvania Press in 2022. American Fragments examines the years between the independence of the colonies from Britain and the start of the Jacksonian age, when American readers consumed an enormous number of literary texts called “fragments.” It recovers this archive of the romantic period to raise a set of pressing questions about the relationship between aesthetic and national realities: What kind of artistic creation was a fragment?, And how and why did deliberately unfinished writing emerge alongside a country that was itself still unfinished? Through discussions of eighteenth-century transatlantic aesthetics, the Revolutionary War, seduction novels, religious culture, and the construction of authorship, American Fragments argues that the literary fragment was used as a means of representing individuals who did not fit neatly into the social fabric of the nation. Time and again, fragments asked what kind of identity marginalized individuals had, and how fictionalized versions of their life stories influenced the sociopolitical circumstances of the emergent nation. In their most progressive moments, the writers of fragments depicted their subjects as being “in process,” opting for a fluid version of the self instead of the bounded and coherent one typically hailed as the liberal individual.

A co-edited collection (with Matthew Pethers) titled The Part and the Whole in Early American Literature, Print Culture, and Art  (Bucknell University Press, 2024) considers the significance of varied early American fragmentary genres and practices—from diaries and poetry, to almanacs and commonplace books, to sermons and lists, to Indigenous ruins and other material shards and fragments—often overlooked by critics in a scholarly privileging of the “whole.”

Dr. Couch has also started drafting a second project examining the affective role of confusion in the democratic politics of the early nation.


Ph.D., UCLA (2016)

Bachelor of Arts, UCLA (2007)

Professional Experience

Prof. Couch has taught American literature in the English departments at UCLA and the U.S. Air Force Academy. His teaching focuses on early and nineteenth-century American literature.

Honors & Awards

Filson Fellowship, The Filson Historical Society (2024)

2021 Hennig Cohen Prize for the best article, book chapter, or essay in a book about Herman Melville (awarded in 2023)

Reese Fellowship in the Print Cultures of the Americas, William L. Clements Library (2022)

William T. Buice III Scholarship, University of Virginia Rare Book School (2021)

McDermott Award for Research Excellence in the Humanities, US Air Force Academy (2020-2021)

Dean of Faculty Humanities Research Grant, US Air Force Academy (2018 & 2021)

Reese Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society (2020)

Robert L. Middlekauff Fellowship, The Huntington Library (2019)

Lillian Gary Taylor Visiting Fellowship in American Literature, University of Virginia (2018)

Barra Foundation/Edward C. Carter II Fellowship, American Philosophical Society (2016)

Mellon Advisory Committee in Pedagogy Fellowship, UCLA English (2015-2016, declined)

Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship in Early American Literature and Material Texts, McNeil Center for Early American Studies & Library Company of Philadelphia (2015-2016)

George Chavez Endowed Graduate Dissertation Fellowship, UCLA English (2014-2015)

Mellon Foundation Pre-Dissertation Fellowship, UCLA Graduate Division (2014)

Mellon Advisory Committee in Pedagogy Fellowship, UCLA English (2013-2014)

English Department Conference Travel Grant, UCLA English (2011, 2013-2016)

Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, UCLA Graduate Division (2010 & 2011)

Eugene V. Cota Robles Fellowship, UCLA Graduate Division (2009-2013)

Research and Scholarly Interests

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America, affect studies, the history of aesthetics, theories of form and formalism, political philosophy in the early republic, the history of the book



“Fragments, Scraps, and the Formalism of the Historical Imagination,” in The Part and the Whole in Early American Literature, Print Culture, and Art, eds. Matthew Pethers and Daniel Diez Couch (Bucknell: Bucknell University Press, 2024): 95-115.

“Setting Fires with Hawthorne: 'Earth's Holocaust' and Book Burning in Nineteenth-Century America,” Nineteenth-Century Literature 78.2 (2023): 87-113.

“Silent Eloquence: Literary Extracts, the Aesthetics of Disability, and Melville’s ‘Fragments’” with Michael Anthony Nicholson, Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 23.1 (2021): 7-23. *Winner of the 2021 Hennig Cohen Prize for the best article, book chapter, or essay in a book about Herman Melville*

“Poe, Sympathetic Ink, and Chemical Landscapes in Nineteenth-Century America,” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 75.3 (Fall 2019): 1-26.

“Printing Emma Corbett: Revolutionary Violence and the Prosthetics of Typography,” The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation 59.4 (Winter 2018): 449-469.

“Erasure,” Early American Studies, Special issue on “Keywords for Early American Literature and Material Texts” 16.4 (Fall 2018): 665-671.

“A Syntax of Silence: The Punctuated Spaces in ‘Bartleby the Scrivener. A Story of Wall-Street,’” Studies in American Fiction 42.2 (Fall 2015): 167-190.

“Eliza Wharton’s Scraps of Writing: Dissipation and Fragmentation in The Coquette,” Early American Literature 49.3 (Fall 2014): 683-705.


The New Melville Studies, ed. Cody MarrsNineteenth-Century Literature 78.4 (2024): 324-327.

Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge by Richard OvendenAmerican Literary History Online Review, Series XXX.

Collected Writings of Charles Brockden Brown, vol. 4: Political Pamphlets edited by Mark L. Kamrath, Stephen Shapiro, and Maureen Tuthill, Early American Literature 56.1 (2021): 307-309.

Herman Melville: Among the Magazines by Graham Thompson, Nineteenth-Century Literature 73.3 (Winter 2018): 418-422.

The American School of Empire by Edward Larkin, Early American Literature 53.3 (Fall 2018): 981-985.

“The Year In Conferences—2012,” Co-author. ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 59.1 (2013): 113-230.