Literary Studies

Literary studies research specialism with a specific interest and expertise in:

  • Jane Austen
  • Narratology
  • The Romantic-era novel
  • Women writers

Two Exemplar Research Initiatives
Ph.D. Dissertation: Imagining Publics, Negotiating Powers: The Parallel Evolutions of Romantic Social Structure and Jane Austen’s Free Indirect Discourse
My dissertation will consist of seven chapters plus an introduction and brief conclusion. Unlike traditional Austen-centric monographs that dedicate a single chapter to each of her major works, my dissertation will move through the texts thematically, pairing Austen’s works according to how they characterize class, voice, and space in order to establish a narrative arc. By tracing the evolution of her style, my dissertation privileges Austen’s construction of the modern novel as her works moved from the disjointed epistolary form, to a blend of psychological and sociological storytelling to, finally, polyvocal narratives that embrace the complexity of competing powers and malleable publics. Below is an excerpt from my dissertation prospectus that outlines the project’s argument and objectives:

My dissertation grapples with this question by investigating how Austen’s distinct narrative style and inimitable narrative voice reflected the stories of “3 or 4 families in a Country Village” in a manner and form that resonated with her contemporary audience (Letter to Anna Austen Lefroy). This project explores why Austen’s development and command of the free indirect style (a style that blends third-person and first-person narrative techniques) was necessary for the evolution of the novel and interrogates how this stylistic innovation catalyzed the emergence of the genre’s modern form. In order to accomplish this, my research will critically examine Austen’s literary lineage, the socioeconomic realities of early nineteenth century Britain, and the narratological features of free indirect discourse by answering the following questions: (1) How does Austen internalize and extend the narrative practices of eighteenth-century authors, specifically women writers? (2) How do the imagined social spaces of the texts and the evolution of Austen’s narrative style reproduce and critique the shifting social structures of Regency Britain, and what role does the evolution of Austen’s narrative style play in this critique? (3) How do the class positions of the characters and the relationships between them—as revealed through Austen’s use of a free indirect narrative style—both recreate and question the changing social spaces of this era? Overall, my dissertation hypothesizes that Austen’s particular, polyvocal narrative style allowed her to imagine the changing social spaces of her era and negotiate the conflicting ideals of Romantic publics, thereby establishing an intimate connection to the changing lives of her readers, and earning her an early place in the literary canon.

M.A. Project: The Common Place, formerly Digitizing Literature
For my final M.A. project, I developed a series of digital editions focused on lesser-known works by female writers in Britain’s Romantic age. This open-access anthology, The Common Place, formerly Digitizing Literature, began as a final assignment in an English graduate course on manuscript/print culture, and developed into a professional platform for examining and exploring great works by women writers. The project was designed as an undergraduate research resource; each edition is comprised of an author biography, critical introduction, annotated text, and several critical appendices. Thorough editorial theory and technical documentation for the project can be found here. The Common Place was conceived as an evolving research project and, in 2016, I participated in a Digital Humanities Summer Institute course focused on conceptualizing and creating digital editions with the goal of revising and relaunching the content. My objective in enrolling in this course is to discover ways to better leverage the affordances of a digital platform and to move away from the print-based model that the first version of the site closely followed. The Common Place is the result of this work — a new, non-linear approach to Romantic women writers and their works.

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