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Hester Blum

Hester Blum

Professor of English
Preferred Pronouns: she/her
313 Burrowes Building

Mailroom: 430 Burrowes Building

Hester Blum

Fall 2021 Office Hours

Mondays 2:30-3:30pm in Burrowes; via zoom by appointment

Curriculum Vitae


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

Professional Bio

At Penn State I teach courses in nineteenth-century US literature and culture, oceanic and polar 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. My edition of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, with a new introduction and notes, is forthcoming from Oxford World's Classics in May, 2022. 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 and the Journal of Transnational American 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 participated in an Arctic climate change expedition in 2019; a documentary made of our Northwest Passage Project is streaming. I also joined the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, the world's last surviving nineteenth-century wooden whaleship, and will return to the Arctic in an expedition to Svalbard with The Arctic Circle.

I am at work on two new book projects: Ice Ages, about the human timelines of ice, and Castaways, a meditation on "female Robinson Crusoes."

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:

Areas of Specialization

American Literature Before 1900

Nineteenth-century American literature and culture; environmental humanities; Herman Melville; polar and oceanic studies; first-person narratives

Book History and Textual Studies

US print culture and book history; C19 periodicals; amateur newspapers and coterie printing; print culture of personal narratives; ecomedia