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Mollie Barnes, Ph.D.Mollie Barnes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of English, Theater, and Liberal Studies
Library 255
Bluffton campus

My specialty is nineteenth-century U.S. literature—a field that invites us to trace dynamic changes in our world, globally and locally, at the same time. At USCB, I have the pleasure of teaching courses about this cultural moment but also about the broader contexts and periods that transcend my research focus and made me love English studies in the first place. This year, in addition to the first-year composition sequence and our American Literature Survey, I'm excited to offer seminars in African-American Literature (fall 2015: our special focus will be the relationship between literacies and civic liberties) and American Literature 1860–1910 (spring 2016: we'll read Emily Dickinson, Frances Harper, Henry James, Walt Whitman, and many more favorites…). In varying ways, all of these courses challenge me to grapple afresh with debates that motivate my scholarship. While my current projects first began as studies of place, I have come to appreciate the ways transatlanticism (an approach to critical reading) urges me to pose more encompassing questions: What intellectual borderlines define "American Literature"? How do our critical dispositions affect how we read what we read? Finally, what do transatlantic studies do, and how might we think of them as historically located reading practices (not just as theoretical perspectives)?

I'm working now on essays about Margaret Fuller and Edith Wharton that address these kinds of issues as they surface both in fiction and nonfiction. I'm also revising my book project, "Unifying Ambivalence: Transatlantic Histories, Italian Temporalities," which studies "problem" texts written by Anglo-American expatriates during the Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy, and the years immediately following this revolutionary period. In the process of researching and editing this project, I became totally absorbed with other stories that I want to tell about some of these writers' works and cultural afterlives. I'll turn next, then, to a series of pieces on nineteenth-century women writers whose private lives became infamously public—and whose essays, journals, and letters powerfully shaped transatlantic debates about social reforms ranging from immigration to abolitionism. Fuller is the heart of my current scholarship: her weekly conversazione drew people to her work and into her circle, and with well-known intensity that matches the respect she now garners as an author and editor, an activist and feminist. I count Fuller's love of conversation as just one of many literary pearls reminding me how fortunate I am to think and talk about ideas with good people every single day. In fact, that's my very favorite part of teaching and working with students, especially English and Theater Folks, at USCB.

Dr. Hoffer and I are the founding faculty sponsors of The May River Review, USCB's Interdisciplinary, Critical Journal (sign up for English 211: Editing and Publishing Practicum!). I also run The English and Theater Show (check out our upcoming events on the English and Theater Facebook page and join us next time!).


"Historical Imagination in Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Casa Guidi Windows." Forthcoming in Victorian Poetry.

with Rebecca Weber, "Lions and Tigers and Bears and Environmentalists, Oh My: An Ecocritical Reading of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The Oswald Review 7 (2005): 1–45.

with Kristin Boudreau, "Early Nineteenth-Century Literature." American Literary Scholarship.Durham: Duke UP, 2007. 257–279.

with Kristin Boudreau, "Early Nineteenth-Century Literature." American Literary Scholarship. Durham: Duke UP, 2006. 221–250.


"Newport, Still: Interiority and Temporality in Emma Lazarus's Revisionist Elegy." Upcoming Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, November 2015.

"Margaret Fuller's Illegibilities: Afterlives of an Unreadable, Unrecoverable Manuscript." Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference, April 2015.

"Inscriptions and Social Media: Teaching Reading Practices through Tweets." Georgia Tech Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Engaging Conversations Series, October 2013.

"'I think I should write a book about the Austrians': Effie Ruskin's Ambivalent Venetian Letters." British Women Writers Conference, June 2012.

"'A Strange, Strange Contrast': Risorgimenti Hauntings in Vernon Lee's Polite Stories." British Women Writers Conference, April 2011.

"Remembering Rightly: Fictional Narrative in Henry James's Italian Hours." American Literature Association Fiction Symposium, October 2010.

"Heavenly Belongings, Earthly Belongings, and Felicia Hemans's The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy." British Women Writers Conference, April 2010.

"Imagination Like Likeness: The Copyist Aesthetic in The Wings of the Dove." American Literature Association Fiction Symposium, October 2009.

"Photographic Mourning: Amy Levy's The Romance of the Shop and the Development of Feminine Subjectivity." British Women Writers Conference, April 2009.


NEH Summer Institute: Transcendentalism and Social Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller, 2015.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Society Travel Grant

Emerita Faculty Award for Dissertation Research