Areas of Research:
18th and 19th century British literature, Romanticism, Scottish literature and the Scottish Enlightenment, gender and postcolonial theory, children in literary culture, the emergence of popular and national literary culture in late 18th- and 19-century Britain.
British Romanticism and Childhood. Forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, 2011.
“The Childish Origins of Literary Studies,” Child’s Children: Ballad Study and its Legacies, ed. Barbara Hillers and Joseph Harris, Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2011.
“Sentimental Fiction.” The Cambridge Companion to Romantic Fiction, ed. Katie Trumpener and Richard Maxwell, 2008.
“Romantic Poetry and the Romantic Novel.” The Cambridge Companion to Romantic Poetry, ed. James Chandler and Maureen McLane, 2008.
“’The Fause Nourice Sang’: Childhood, Child Murder and the Formalism of the Scottish Ballad Revival.” Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, ed. Ian Duncan, Leith Davis, Janet Sorensen, 2004.
“Wordsworth’s Children of the Revolution.” Studies in English Literature, vol. 41 (Autumn 2001).
“Scott, Scotland and Romantic Nationalism.” Co-editor, Special issue of Studies in Romanticism, vol. 40 (Spring 2001).
American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant; American
Association of University Women Postdoctoral Research Fellowship; Conger-Gabel
Teaching Professor; Mortar Board National Honor Society Outstanding Educator.
In all my work, I am interested in the social construction and cultural work of literature: how literary texts are framed, read, given value, as well as how they act on and produce other literary and cultural forms. The major focus of my recent research and scholarship has been on childhood and Romantic literary culture. In the Romantic period, the child came fully into its own as the object of increasing social concern and cultural investment and, at the same time, the development of a vernacular, national literary tradition was a significant pre-occupation of a variety of writers. I have just finished a book that examines the intersections of these historical developments. In that study, I analyze how new ideas of childhood (theories of infancy and development, notions of childhood language and memory) enabled new conceptions of history and literary culture, at the same time that a newly expanded sense of national literature (one that included popular, trivial and native literary forms) brought the child and childhood into the arena of cultural production and reproduction. In short, I investigate the ways in which modern literary culture and modern childhood emerged together in the years of cultural transformation we know as the Romantic period.
I am currently beginning a new project on Keats’ nineteenth-century American reception, investigating a group of Boston writers and collectors who raised money in American to erect a monument to Keats in Hampstead and played a formative role in Amy Lowell’s career as Keats’ major biographer and collector. Here I am interested in the question of what role American readers and writers played in shaping Keats’ reputation as a major Romantic poet and shaping the literary values we have traditionally associated with Keats and with “English Romanticism.” I am also interested in the question of what it means to “collect” literature and literary artifacts and how acts of collection shape literary history and biography.