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Anne C. McCarthy

Anne C. McCarthy

Assistant Professor of English

421 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

University Park , PA 16802

Office Hours:

  • Spring 2019:
  • M, 2:30-3:30pm
  • W, 10am-12pm

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. B.A., New York University
  2. Ph.D., City University of New York

Professional Bio

I joined the faculty at Penn State in the Fall of 2012 to teach Romantic and Victorian literature, as well as critical theory. My first book, Awful Parenthesis: Suspension and the Sublime in Romantic and Victorian Poetry (University of Toronto Press, 2018), is about the way that suspension, broadly conceived as a form and practice, was understood by a group of nineteenth-century British poets: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alfred Tennyson, and Christina Rossetti. Suspended bodies and forms, practices of holding oneself in suspension and uncertainty, are ways of negotiating the crisis of a contingent reality, whether that reality is reflected in the contradictory nature of the self, the perilous ambiguity of a cataleptic body that may or may not be dead, or in a natural world whose laws are much less legible than they initially appear.

My second book project, Catastrophic Intimacies: Looking for Love at the End of the World, 1780-1830, maps the difficult crossing of the personal and the planetary. I'm exploring the limits and the possibilities of attachment, particularly attachments that don't involve a meeting of two relatively equal and well-suited minds--or even two human minds. I'm interested in bad romances, aberrant object relations, what it means to hang around after you aren't wanted, the ethics of setting yourself and your writing in relation to beings that exist only in your head, and how all of this changes when the world seems headed towards extinction. This seems to me to be a particularly pressing problem for theories of romanticism, since so many of what we could think of as "romantic" relationships are based on asymmetry.

Additionally, I am the co-editor of Romanticism and Speculative Realism (Bloomsbury, 2019), a collection of essays that uses the tools of speculative realist philosophy and object-oriented ontology to reread the romantic tradition, while also exploring how romanticism anticipates many of the most important insights of the "speculative turn." I am also one of the founding editors of the Keats Letters Project, a digital humanities initiative that is currently republishing and recirculating each of Keats's existing letters on the 200th anniversary of its composition, with new responses from scholars, poets, and Keats lovers.

My articles have appeared in Victorian Poetry, Romantic Circles, and Studies in Romanticism. My article, "Reading the Red Bull Sublime" (PMLA, May 2017), received the best essay prize for 2017 from the Keats-Shelley Association of America. As the title of this piece suggests, I also have an abiding interest in the persistence of romantic aesthetics in contemporary popular culture, a topic I have also recently explored in my essay, "'There has to be something deeply symbolic in that': Peanuts and the Sublime," in The Comics of Charles Schulz: The Good Grief of Modern Life (University Press of Mississippi, 2017).

Please note that I will be leaving Penn State at the end of the Spring 2019 semester.

Areas of Specialization

19th-century British Literature