Current Research

Dr. Jean Lutes is editing the first-ever print collection of writings by legendary American stunt journalist Nellie Bly (1864-1922), who had herself committed to an asylum to expose the mistreatment of female patients and later raced around the world in seventy-two days.  Dr. Lutes is also working on a monograph about mass print culture, emotionality, and women's narratives in early twentieth-century America.

Dr. Megan Quigley delivered the annual East Coker lecture in July at the T. S. Eliot Summer School in the U.K.  The lecture, entitled, "Why East Coker is Still Shocking," is part of a new project on Eliot and his influence on 20th-century fiction, and stems from archival work completed on two recent fellowships: at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA, and at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, TX.  Dr. Quigley will also present a paper entitled "Woolf, Wittgenstein, and Nonsense: The Voyage Out as Therapy," at the Modern Language Association in Chicago in January 2014, a talk connected to her current book project: Modernist Fiction and Vagueness.

Dr. Alice Dailey's recent book, The English Martyr from Reformation to Revolution, studies one of the most popular genres of the English Middle Ages and Renaissance, the martyr story.  Observing how martyrdom is constituted through the interplay of historical event and literary form, Dr. Dailey explores the development of English martyr literature through the period of intense religious controversy from the heresy executions of Queen Mary to the regicide of 1649.  Her current research focuses on violence and the representation of human bodies in Shakespeare's history plays.

Dr. Crystal Lucky has a forthcoming critical edition of the autobiography of Charlotte Riley, a nineteenth-century preacher of the A.M.E. Church who was born a slave in Charleston, SC (Univ. of Wisconsin Press).  She is currently working on two new projects: an article on the complexities of black- and white-women authored contemporary novels of slavery and a book on the ways that black women's piety functions in various cultural spaces in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Dr. Joseph Drury is working on a book about the impact of machines and new technologies on the form of the 18th-century British novel.  He is also working on a journal article about idolatry and iconoclasm in early gothic fiction for a special issue on Bruno Latour and the 18th century.

Dr. Lauren Shohet is researching the long history of media change and its impact on literary form.  Recent and current work focused on 17th- and 18th-century aspects of this project includes publications and presentations on poetry of Andrew Marvell, church paintings in southern Germany, and Milton's Paradise Lost.  She is the content director for the Luminary Shakespeare iPad app of Othello, a project in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Prof. Robert O'Neil is researching Union soldiers' constructions of race during the Civil War.  How, specifically, were these constructions challenged or magnified by Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863?  In addition to the formation of racial attitudes and beliefs, Prof. O’Neil plans on analyzing these constructs through language itself.  How did Union soldiers represent these ideological shifts?  What new words or phrases surfaced to reflect soldiers' growing interaction with African Americans of the South, both as slaves and later as fellow soldiers? 

Dr. Deborah Thomas's article "Vibrations in the Memory: Bleak House's Response to Illustrations of Becky in Vanity Fair" appears in the 2013 volume of Dickens Studies Annual.  Dr. Thomas argues that Dickens was more aware of the acclaimed novel Vanity Fair by his contemporary and rival Thackeray than has been commonly recognized and that three prominent female characters in Dickens's own great novel Bleak House can each be seen as embodying but rewriting a particular facet of Vanity Fair's multifaceted Becky Sharp that is suggested in certain of Thackeray's illustrations—illustrations that appear to have triggered Dickens's imagination.  Dr. Thomas's current long-term project is a book in progress on archaeology and Victorian fiction.

Dr. Evan Radcliffe is working on an essay about William Wordsworth’s play The Borderers, exploring how the play engages with discussions of justice and benevolence in contemporary polemics on the French Revolution as well as in 18th century philosophical writing, with particular attention to the conflicts between these two ideals.  This essay is part of Dr. Radcliffe’s series of studies of British responses to the French Revolution in the 1790s. 

Prof. Alan Drew is currently completing his second novel, Santa Ana, which is set to be published by Random House.  His first novel, Gardens of Water, was published in North America by Random House in 2008.  The novel has been translated into ten languages and continues to be sold in over twenty countries.  Prof. Drew has also published stories in Glimmer Train, The Manchester Review, and a novella in Fogged Clarity.

Dr. Hugh Ormsby-Lennon is working on a book project: Mankind’s Epitome: Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Swift.  He has written extensively on Swift, early 17th-century English literature, and Irish literature, and has a forthcoming essay that investigates Joyce's use of Swift in Dubliners.

Dr. Heather Hicks is currently working on a book about the ways literary apocalyptic novels written since 2001 use the form of the apocalyptic novel to interrogate the category of modernity.  A chapter of this work, on the treatment of historicism in David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, was recently published in Postmodern Culture.  Another chapter, which analyzes the ways Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake uses the figure of the Whore of Babylon to critique the ongoing impact of modern colonialism as a legacy of the Book of Revelation, is forthcoming as an article in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature.

Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh has recently completed an essay called "Anne Sexton's Institutional Poetics" for an edited volume on the poet.  Dr. Javadizadeh is also at work on a book that connects the institutional structuring and theorizing of modern American poetry at mid-century to the institutionalization and mental illness of so many of the period's poets (Pound, Lowell, and Plath, for example) and argues that modernist and New Critical notions of impersonality underwrite postwar poems of mental breakdown.

Dr. Michael Berthold’s current research focuses on 19th-century literary representations of Johnny Appleseed.  He recently published an essay in The Journal of American Culture on Appleseed’s literary debut in James M’Gaw’s little-known 1858 novel Philip Seymour and is currently working on an article about St. Louis Hegelian Denton J. Snider’s extensive revision of the Appleseed legend.

Dr. Travis Foster is writing an article about Sarah Orne Jewett's use of Darwinian biology to think through Freudian questions about the origins of sexual diversity, a version of which he recently presented at Columbia University's Women & Society Seminar.  He is also presenting papers from his book-in-progress, on Civil War elegies and popular postbellum literary genres, at the upcoming conferences of the American Studies Association and the Modern Language Association.

Dr. Joseph Lennon is researching and writing about the origins of the modern hunger strikes in the early twentieth-century British Empire.  The work centers on the first “modern” hunger strike of Marion Wallace-Dunlop in 1909, and then examines the influences and repercussions of her strike in literary, cultural, and political circles in Britain, Ireland, and India.  Dr. Lennon has also recently completed an essay on the 19th-century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan, “Antiquity and Futurity in the Writings of James Clarence Mangan,” forthcoming in a book reevaluating Mangan and his influence.  The essay will also form a chapter in another book project on representations of Irish antiquity in the first half of the 19th century.

Dr. Lisa Sewell is working on a book of poems, currently titled" A Cartography of Reading," which explores the centrality of reading to the formation of identity.  She is also editing a third volume of American Women Poets in the 21st Century, a collection of essays that focuses on the work of important North American women poets.

Dr. Chiji Akoma is working on two research projects.  The first is co-editing a volume of essays on new and established issues on African oral performance traditions.  The second is a study of postcolonial discourses in popular drama in southeastern Nigeria.

Dr. Charles Cherry has just published "Quakers and Asylum Reform" in The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies.

Books By Our Faculty