Vernon Shetley

Professor of English

Studies and teaches American poetry and film, focusing particularly on contemporary poetry and classic Hollywood cinema.

I'm at work on a book on film noir from the 1970s to the present, which focuses on the representation of economics within these films. I'm particularly interested in the way that trust, and the lack of trust, shape the economy of crime in neo-noir filmmaking; and in the way that the cinematic private detective embodies a transformation in the role of the professions within the larger economy.

I teach a wide range of courses, from first-year writing to advanced courses on literature and film. In recent years, I've taught Critical Interpretation, Shakespeare, and Literary Theory on the literature side, and courses on film noir, literary theory, and westerns and women's pictures on the film side. I'm looking forward to developing new courses on American film comedy and stardom in Hollywood cinema.

I'm interested in the application of cognitive science to literature and film, and hope to develop new courses and research projects in this area, perhaps in collaboration with colleagues in psychology and economics.


  • A.B., Princeton University
  • M.A., Columbia University
  • M.Phil., Columbia University
  • Ph.D., Columbia University

Current and upcoming courses

  • "Boy meets girl" has long been a classic starting point, in both literature and the movies. This course will focus on romantic comedy in American cinema, with significant looks backward to its literary sources. We will view films from the classic era of Hollywood (It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve), the revisionist comedies of the 1970s and beyond (Annie Hall, My Best Friend's Wedding), and perhaps some of the decidedly unromantic comedies of recent years (Knocked Up). We will also read one or two Shakespeare plays, and a Jane Austen novel, to get a sense of the literary precedents that established the paradigms within which cinematic comedy operates.