David Alff

David Alff.

David Alff

David Alff

Placement Director, Associate Professor


17th and 18th-century Anglophone writing and performance, infrastructure, public works, projects and projection

I am an associate professor of English at SUNY-Buffalo, where I research the eighteenth-century Anglophone world. I received my PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. My academic writing has appeared in Critical InquiryELHPMLA, Eighteenth-Century StudiesThe Eighteenth CenturyPhilological Quarterly, and various critical collections. I have also written essays for The Washington PostThe Boston Review, Time, Avidly, and Book Post.

My new book, The Northeast Corridor, is coming out from the University of Chicago Press in April 2024. It’s about trains, and how they make the places that make us.  

train ticket.

I am currently writing a monograph, Rights of Way: A Literary Approach to Infrastructure, which finds the conceptual origins of our built world in early modern debates over the legality of passage. I have delivered invited talks from this project at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Iowa.

Title page "of Public Spirit".

My first book, The Wreckage of Intentions: Projects in British Culture, 1660-1730 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017) investigated the origins of projects, concrete yet incomplete efforts to advance British society in a period defined by revolutions of finance and agriculture, the rise of experimental science, and the establishment of constitutional monarchy.

The Wreckage of Intentions book cover.

I am currently co-editing with Jo Guldi, a special issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies, on infrastructure. I am also co-editing with Danielle Spratt a critical collection, Histories of Science, to be published by the University of Virginia Press.