Diving into Faculty Scholarship: Dr. Adam Potkay

Posted on March 16, 2022

Faculty at William & Mary make incredible contributions to academia with their research. In our recent blog series, we interview faculty with recent publications for insight into their scholarship.

Liz Bellamy, Instruction & Research Librarian and librarian to English, spoke to Adam Potkay, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities, about his recently published book, Hope: A Literary History

In 2-3 sentences, please describe your scholarship to someone unfamiliar with the field.
Hope for us has a positive connotation. Yet it was criticized in classical antiquity as a distraction from the present moment, as the occasion for irrational and self-destructive thinking, and as a presumption against the gods. If hope sounds to us like a good thing, that reaction stems from a progressive political tradition grounded in the French Revolution, aspects of Romantic literature and the influence of the Abrahamic faiths. In this book I examine the cases for and against hope found in literature from antiquity to

Front cover of Hope: A Literary History

the present.

Who might be interested in reading this book?
Lovers of great books, from the Bible and classical antiquity through to the twentieth century. Fans of history and those who want to know more about the role of hope in religion, specifically as a Christian theological virtue. Those who want to know more about the emotions and their place in a flourishing life. 

How did W&M Libraries help support your scholarship?
With thousands of print and online items! I love Swem. My relation to the library is long and deep--for years a book review editor, who received far more academic titles than the journal could review, I supplied Swem with hundreds (maybe overall a thousand?) new academic titles not in the library's holdings.

Is there anything else you want to share?
I'm genuinely excited that CUP has put the book out in a handsome trade format, with more or less trade pricing (book under $40). And the Cambridge University Bookshop in the UK devoted its whole display window with dozens of copies of my book when it was published in January.

Check out Hope: A Literary History from W&M Libraries!  

W&M faculty and staff who wish to be part of this series should complete the form available at https://guides.libraries.wm.edu/pubpromotion