I was born in April, 1958, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto Star headline for that day read, triumphantly, “Brett Zimmerman born! Great day for Canadians!” I grew up in east Toronto — Scarborough (just like Mike Myers!)—and attended the Scarborough Campus of the University of Toronto from 1977 to 1981. I married in February of 1980 (have since divorced), not before having had a hand in the conception of three beautiful children: Justin, Jesse, and Ashley. I graduated with a B.A. in English in ’81 and thereafter moved to York University, in the northwest part of Toronto. As a graduate student at York, I received an M.A. in 1982 and a Ph.D. in 1988, after which I was a contractual professor there until 2007 when I was converted to an assistant professor; a few years later I was promoted to associate professor. I am still joyfully at York and my website features several photographs of the campus, as well as the syllabi of the courses I have taught recently.
I specialize in American literature, particularly nineteenth-century, though I have taught twentieth-century U.S. lit. and have designed a course on pre-1800 American fiction and nonfiction. I have a special fondness for Herman Melville (on whom I wrote a book, Herman Melville: Stargazer—about his interest in and literary uses of astronomy) and Edgar Allan Poe, on whom I wrote two books. Using stylistics and classical rhetoric, in Edgar Allan Poe: Rhetoric and Style I defend Poe as a prose technician. My latest book is Master of the Madhouse: Edgar Allan Poe as Amateur Psychologist, which examines and demonstrates Poe’s knowledge of coeval psychological theories (mainstream and phrenological) and psychiatric treatments. I have also published extensively in magazines and academic journals (see the bibliography).
As you can see, my interests vary widely, taking me from literature into fields such as psychology, astronomy, and paleontology; my website illustrates my interests in those areas. Another passion of mine, as this website also shows, is photography, and I have practiced several types, including Astrophotography and High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. My website provides samples of most of the subjects in my gallery and provides a link to my page on the website Deviant Art which features a much more extensive gallery.
You can contact me at my York University address by clicking on the link: