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Hester Blum

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Hester Blum

Professor of English

313 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

University Park , PA 16802

Office Hours:

  • Fall 2020: zoom office hours Mondays 11am-noon, Thursdays 2-3pm (email me for zoom link)

Curriculum Vitae

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  1. Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2002
  2. B.A., Princeton University, 1995 (magna cum laude)

Professional Bio


At Penn State I teach courses in nineteenth-century US literature and culture, oceanic studies, material text studies and the history of the book, popular fiction, Herman Melville, and the environmental humanities.

My most recent book, The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration, was published by Duke University Press in 2019; an open access edition is available here. My first book, The View from the Mast-Head: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives (UNC Press, 2008), received the John Gardner Maritime Research Award. I have also published a critical edition of Horrors of Slavery (1808), William Ray's Barbary captivity narrative (Rutgers UP, 2008). I have edited a special issue of Atlantic Studies on "Oceanic Studies," as well as a volume of essays entitled Turns of Event: American Literary Studies in Motion (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016). I contribute frequently to Avidly, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

I am at work on two new book projects: Ice Ages, about the temporalities of ice in an epoch of anthropogenic climate change, and Castaways, a meditation on "female Robinson Crusoes." My edition of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, with a new introduction, is forthcoming from Oxford World Classics.

My work has been supported by fellowships and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, Seed Box Environmental Humanities Collaboratory at Linköping University in Sweden, the Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, the John Carter Brown Library, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Newberry Library, the National Humanities Center, and the American Antiquarian Society, to which I was elected to membership in 2013.

I am a founder of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. Learn more about C19 here: