The Female Enthusiast: Nineteenth-Century Women and the Poetics of Inspiration (Ph.D. Dissertation, UNC-Chapel Hill, under the direction of Jeanne Moskal)
My dissertation project traces the figure of the female enthusiast in nineteenth-century British women’s writing. Familiar but amorphous, she fosters women writers’ interrogation, (re)definition, and (re)construction of feminine genius as prophetic, improvisational, poetic, and, eventually, professional. As a figure of interest and identification, she thus represents an intersectional, self-stylized process of becoming. The marginalized female enthusiast catches imputations of power and authority, but also of hysteria and heresy, from all angles. She is subject to the regulatory efforts of classical, Christian, and Romantic-era literary histories. And for women writers confronting similar authorities and limitations, she becomes at once standard-bearer and target of critique. Instead of reprising their foremothers’ overtly religious or political claims, many second-generation women worked across ideological and generic boundaries to infuse a largely religious female enthusiasm with the safer, more secular alternative of Italian improvisation. With uneven success, women like Mary Shelley, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Maria Jane Jewsbury, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning worked to authorize feminine voices against a Romantic narrative that had marginalized them as hysterical, irrational, and unprofessional.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
“Prophetic Poetics and Enthusiasm in Mary Shelley’s Valperga,” Studies in Romanticism 58.1 (2019): forthcoming.
“John Watson Dalby’s Poetic Reception of Mary Shelley’s Valperga,” Keats-Shelley Review 32.1 (2018): 11-16.
“‘Do you think I can’t read between the lines?’: Discourse of the Unsaid in J. M. Coetzee’s Diary of a Bad Year,” The Journal of Commonwealth Literature 53.1 (2018): 7-20.
“‘Habituat[ing] to Reflection’: Hannah More’s Romantic Novel,” Essays in Romanticism 23.1 (2016): 95-112.
“Caroline Fry’s Death, and Other Poems in Conversation with the Night Thoughts of Edward Young,” New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century 2.1 (2014): 63-74.
“‘With Faithful Pencil’: Pastoral and Picturesque Composition in Beachy Head,” in Placing Charlotte Smith, ed. Jacqueline M. Labbe and Elizabeth A. Dolan (Lehigh University Press), forthcoming.
“The Remorseless Assassin; or The Dangers of Enthusiasm,” in Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, 1660-1820, ed. April London (Cambridge University Press), forthcoming.
“Theodore; Or, The Enthusiast. In Four Volumes,” in Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, 1660-1820, ed. April London (Cambridge University Press), forthcoming.