I completed a Ph.D. in English, with an emphasis in American Studies, in 1989, and since then have been teaching American and World Literature at Georgia Southern University. My dissertation was on the early American poet, Anne Bradstreet (1612-72), and for the past ten years have returned to my original work in Women’s Studies and the intersection of Religion and Literature in the lives of British and American Nonconformist women writers between 1650 and 1850. I have made some 50 research trips to the UK, focusing primarily on a variety of Dissenting ministers, writers, and lay persons (both men and women), as well as several Romantic writers and their interaction with religious Dissent, spanning the decades between 1720 and 1860. Since 1997 my work has dealt almost exclusively with manuscript sources and rare printed sources either unknown or misidentified. My work is a blend of literary criticism and history set within the context of British nonconformity, resurrecting previously unknown women writers (more than 20 to date) and reconfiguring such major figures as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry Crabb Robinson, and Mary Hays.
My interest in Mary Hays has grown from my work as General Editor of the Crabb Robinson Diary Project. I soon realized that she deserved a more complete and accurate edition of her correspondence and accounting of her life and her extensive social and familial networks. Since then I have published three essays on Hays: “Elizabeth Hays and the 1790s Feminist Novel,” The Wordsworth Circle 48.3 (2017), 137-51; “Mary Hays and Henry Crabb Robinson,” The Wordsworth Circle 46.3 (2015), 176-90; “Mary Steele, Mary Hays and the Convergence of Women’s Literary Circles in the 1790s,” Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 38.4 (2015), 511-24; and, co-edited with Felicity James, a modern edition of Elizabeth Hays's previously unknown novel, Fatal Errors (1819), through the Chawton House Series of Women's Novels and Routledge Press (forthcoming 2019).
My work has also been greatly enhanced by my affiliations as a Senior Visiting Research Fellow with the Centre for Baptist History and Heritage, Regent’s Park College, Oxford University; the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary University of London; and Dr. Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies, London; and a Summer Research Fellowship provided by the New York Public Library to work with the Hays Material in the Carl F. H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations, NYPL.
Georgia Southern University
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