Photo of Pat Whiting

Pat Whiting

Degrees:Ph.D., English, University of Ottawa M.A., English, Carleton University B.A., English, Franconia College, New Hampshire,
Phone:613-520-2600 x 6702
Office:1810 Dunton Tower

Research Interests

  • 18th-century literature
  • The novel and human rights
  • The Comic Novel

Current Research

My project investigates the intersection of the literary imagination and actual large-scale historical situations of oppression.  Specifically, I am looking at novels written by authors who were actively involved in those situations and who wrote from a sense of responsibility to their readers and to the truth of events and history as they experienced them. Such “insider” novels are inevitably ideologically inflected, but, curiously, the case-study novels on which I’m currently working are united in their persistent refusal of the reductive tendency to situate people and events uncritically on one side or the other of an assumed binary situation. In legal or judicial discourse, human rights are generally considered categorically in terms of victims and perpetrators and of right and wrong. Courts find human rights abusers guilty or not guilty. By contrast, novels by literary writers who have experienced oppression first-hand reveal that such situations are never black and white but overwhelmingly gray, characterized by complication, contradiction and complicity. These novels provide insights into the workings of oppression and suggest a unique and important role for the novel in current discourses of human rights, one not limited to bearing witness, truth-telling, or confessing guilt.


Fifteen entries for the forthcoming Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, 1660-1820. Ed. April London, projected publication date 2019.

Review of The Orphan in Eighteenth-Century Law and Literature: Estate, Blood, and Body by Cheryl Nixon. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2011. Eighteenth-Century Fiction 25:3 (Spring 2013).

“Literal and Literary Representations of Family in The Mysteries of Udolpho.” Reprinted in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, 106 (2002).

Review of An Introduction to Eighteenth-Century Fiction: Raising the Novel by John Skinner (Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Palgrave, 2001). Eighteenth-Century Fiction 15:1 (2002), 182-84.