Renee Bergland

Visiting Professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies
Hazel Dick Leonard Professor of English, Simmons College

Like every cultural critic worth her salt, I am curious about everything. My research and writing tend to focus on nineteenth-century America, but in every piece I push against national and historical boundaries, trying to find (or make) connections and to think outside of disciplinary boxes. My first three monographs may seem to be on wildly different subjects: Native Americans, Women in Science, and Emily Dickinson. But there is a methodology to my madness. All of my work tends to span broad expanses of time, to offer slightly startling juxtapositions, to rely on close readings of both literary and historical texts, and to explicitly advocate a dialogic ethics of analysis. I keep trying to connect the past to the present.

[show more]

My writing always reflects my commitments to transnational, transhistorical, cross-cultural analysis. I believe that Geronimo's captivity at Fort Marion offers insight to the current captivities at Guantánamo Bay. A recent review essay on early American sex frames the scholarship in terms of current court decisions about homosexuality and gay marriage, while the article about Emily Dickinson's Civil War poetry discusses nineteenth-century balloon surveillance alongside twenty-first century satellite surveillance. Other essays juxtapose Shakespeare's poetry with Aztec poetry, and Dickinson and Melville's poems with the strange cultural history of women scientists in the nineteenth century and now.

 

[show less]
+1 646 342 0099
HB 6038
Department:
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Education:
B.A. St. John's College- Annapolis, MD
PhD, Columbia University

Selected Publications

“A Damned Mob of Corinnes: Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Daughters of DeStaël.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, forthcoming 2016.

“Women’s Novels and the Gendering of Genius.” Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. 5, The American Novel to 1870. Eds J. Gerald Kennedy and Leland S. Person (New York: Oxford University Press 2014) 449-46

The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subjects. University Press of New England, 2000.

Philosophies of Sex: Critical Essays on Julia Ward Howe’s Hermaphrodite. Edited with Gary Williams (Columbus: Ohio State University Press 2012).

Maria Mitchell and the Sexing of Science: An Astronomer Among the American Romantics (Boston: Beacon Press, 2008).

Works in Progress

Planetary Poetics: Emily Dickinson and the Theory of Literary Relativity.
Planetary Poetics: Emily Dickinson and the Theory of Literary Relativity, brings the new formalism (exemplified by Caroline Levine and Jonathan Culler) into conversation with multiple iterations of planetary theory from critics including Wai Chee Dimock, Gayatri Spivak, Paul Giles, Paul Gilroy, Ursula Heise, Tim Morton, and Jedediah Purdy.  I use Emily Dickinson’s work to theorize planetary poetics, which I define in terms of elliptical, sometimes astronomical forms, shifting time/space perspectives, and materialist/environmentalist ontologies of the planet.  Essays drawn from the manuscript have been published in Signs and the Blackwell's Companion to Emily Dickinson.

American Genius, Hawthorne to Hemingway: Men Writing in a Women’s World.
 I see my other book in progress, American Genius, Hawthorne to Hemingway: Men writing in a women’s world, as more of a general audience book; the goal is to offer rigorous feminist literary history to a wide readership. I conducted much of the research for the genius book in Europe, since Italy and France were the settings for Hawthorne, James, and Hemingway’s defining relationships with women of genius. The book reads four major figures—Hawthorne, Melville, James, and Hemingway—in the context of a transatlantic literary marketplace dominated by women authors and readers.  Essays drawn from the manuscript can be found in the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review and the Oxford History of the Novel in English.

Selected Works and Activities

“Cold Stone: Sex and Sculpture in the Hermaphrodite,” Philosophies of Sex: Critical Essays on Julia Ward Howe’s Hermaphrodite, Eds. Renee Bergland and Gary Williams (Ohio State University Press 2012) 157-185.

"Urania's Inversion: Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and the Strange History of Women Scientists in Nineteenth-Century America," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 34:1 (Autumn 2008) 75-100.

"Julia Ward Howe," in The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Sixth Edition. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin 2008).

"The Eagle's Eye: Emily Dickinson's View of Battle," in Blackwell's Companion to Emily Dickinson, Ed. Mary Loeffelholz and Martha Nell Smith (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 2008).

"The Native American Nineteenth Century: Rewriting the American Renaissance," (Special Issue Afterword) ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 52:1-2 (Winter 2006) 141-154.

"Looking Back: Scholarship in Early American Sex," American Literary History, 17:1 (New York: Oxford University Press, Spring 2005) 148-159.

"Toltec Mirrors: Native Americans and Europeans in Each Other's Eyes," in Companion to the Literatures of Colonial America, Ed. Susan Castillo and Ivy Schweitzer (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 2005).

"Diseased States, Public Minds: Indian Ghosts in Early National Literature," in The Gothic Other: Racial and Social Constructions in the Literary Imagination, eds. Ruth Anolik and Douglas L. Howard (Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2004).

"Roger Williams," in The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Fourth and Fifth Editions, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001, 2005).

"The Puritan Eyeball, or, Sexing the Transcendent," in The Puritan Origins of American Sex, eds. Tracy Fessendon, Nicholas Radel, and Magdalena Zaborowska (New York: Routledge, 2000).

The National Uncanny: Indian Ghosts and American Subjects, Hanover: University Press of New England, 2000

+ View 3 more

Awards & Honors

AHRC (British Arts and Humanities Research Council) Research Network, 2009-2010
     (AHRC Participants: Amherst College, University of Plymouth (UK) and University of Exeter (UK)) 

Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship for Faculty Career Flexibility, Simmons College, 2008-9

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2006-7

Fulbright Professor of American Studies (Norway), 2001-2

E. Geoffrey and Elizabeth Thayer Verney Fellow, Nantucket Historical Association, 2006

Caleb Loring, Jr. Fellow, Boston Athenaeum, 2005