Sarah Raff

Associate Professor of English
With Pomona Since: 2002
  • Expertise


    Sarah Raff’s scholarship seeks to define how authors foresee and shape their influence upon readers. Her first book, Jane Austen’s Erotic Advice (Oxford University Press, 2014), interprets didacticism as a seductive rhetorical mode and shows how Austen’s narrators use didactic speech-acts to elicit readerly devotion. Her current book-in-progress, supported recently with grants from the Lewis Walpole Library and the Huntington Library, tracks the rise of the novel in England against the cultural and legal history of guardianship. Tentatively called Author-Guardians in the English Novel, it identifies a strand of novels running from the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century in which fictional guardian/ward interactions prefigure novelist/reader relations.

    Research Interests

    • Acts, Representations, and Theories of Reading
    • Law and Literature
    • Guardians and Wards

    Areas of Expertise


    • 18th- and 19th-Century British Literature
    • History and Theory of the European Novel
    • Jane Austen


    • Psychoanalytic and Gender Theory
  • Work



    Jane Austen's Erotic Advice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014)


    Louis C. K. and Psychoanalytic Legal Thinking in the Age of #MeToo,” Symposium, Anne C. Dailey, Law and the Unconscious: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, vol. 31, 1 (January 2020).

    "Ghosts of the Guardian in Sir Charles Grandison and Bleak House," in Daniel Cook and Nicholas Seager, eds., The Afterlives of Eighteenth-Century Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

    "Teaching Jane Austen and the Literature of Love Advice," in Teaching Austen, eds. Emily C. Friedman and Devoney Looser, a special issue of Romantic Circles Pedagogy Commons (April 2015).

    "Blame Austen: Janeites, Emma, and the Betrayal of Fanny Knight," The Eighteenth-Century Novel 9 (2011), 271-318.

    "Procrastination, Melancholia, and the Prehistory of Persuasion," Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal 29 (2007):175-180.

    "Precepts, Quixotes, and Galateas: The Didactic Novel in Eighteenth-Century Britain," Comparative Literature Studies 43.4 (Winter 2006): 466-79.

  • Education


    Yale University

    Yale University

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Dickens and the Role of the Author
    • Enlightenment, Romantic, Victorian Literature
    • Jane Austen
    • British Novel I: Defoe to Austen
    • The Literature of Gambling
    • Punishment in Law and Literature
    • Legal Guardianship and the Novel