Dr Dahlia Porter
- Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth and Nineteenth - Century Literature and Material Culture (English Literature)
Eighteenth-century and British Romantic literature, Material Culture, Book History, History of Science, Medical Humanities, Poetry & Poetics, 18th & 19th-century Gothic literature and Science Fiction
Dr. Dahlia Porter joined the department in 2017 as Lecture in English Literature. A native of Buffalo, NY, she took a BA from New York University, an M.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Glasgow, she taught Eighteenth-century and Romantic literature at Vanderbilt University and the University of North Texas.
Dr. Porter’s research has focused on the organization of knowledge and literary form in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her first book, Science, Form and the Problem of Induction in British Romanticism (forthcoming, Cambridge UP) argues that the formal mixtures definitive of Romantic literature arose when authors applied the inductive method of experimental science to the work of literary composition. Writing in response to a moment of information saturation not unlike our own, Romantic authors both embraced and resisted a compositional method that generated, as Coleridge bemoaned, “an immense heap of little things.” Bridging the history of science and book history, the project isolates authors’ fraught responses to Enlightenment empiricism as materialized on the printed pages of Romantic books.
She is currently completing a second monograph, provisionally titled The Poetics of Inventory, which investigates the cultural and epistemological power of catalogues and inventories from 1750-1850. This book analyses catalogues of various kinds, including botanical taxonomies, lists of anatomical preparations, records of chemical experiments, topographical lists and maps, library and museum catalogues, and advertising lists of recent publications. It shows that these utilitarian forms of writing—catalogues and inventories were obviously produced to keep track of and organize physical objects in space—also function as conduits between scientific and aesthetic/literary/artistic spheres of thought and practice in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Taken together, the book’s chapters illuminate how modern scientific disciplines were born out of methodological and conceptual exchanges with what we now call the humanities.
Dahlia has organized conference and symposia on related to this project, most recently a working group on “Manuscript, Print, and the Organization of Knowledge” at the Jerwood Center in Grasmere and a two day symposium on “The Materiality of Scientific Knowledge: Image-Text-Book” at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2017, she is planning a number of related events, including “Robert Southey and Romantic-era literature, culture and science: 1797, 1817, a Bicentennial Conference” (co-organized with Tim Fulford) on 11-13 April 2017 in Bristol; a one-day NASSR pre-conference on “Romantic Life Sciences” (co-organized with Tilottama Rajan) on 9 Aug. 2017; and a working group on “Resembling Science: The Unruly Object across the Disciplines,” (co-organized with Meghan Doherty and Courtney Roy) at the Bibliography across the Disciplines conference, 12-15 October 2017.
Dr. Porter has published articles and book chapters on the history of botanical illustration and poetic collections; Charlotte Smith’s poetry and children’s books; Robert Southey’s compositional methods; the poetic afterlives of eighteenth-century novels; and the relationship between topography and picturesque aesthetics in journals such as Representations, Romanticism, European Romantic Review, The Eighteenth-Century: Theory and Interpretation, Wordsworth Circle, and Literature Compass. Her work has also appeared in the essay collections Charlotte Smith and British Romanticism and The Afterlives of Eighteenth-Century Fiction. She is the co-editor, with Michael Gamer, of Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, 1798 and 1800 (Broadview, 2008). She is a co-author, with 22 other scholars in six academic fields, of Interacting with Print: Reading and Beyond in the Era of Print Saturation (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press), a collaboratively written history of print interactivity from 1700-1900. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, the American Philosophical Society, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
Grants and Fellowships
Co-PI [with Lynne Farrington], “The Materiality of Scientific Knowledge: Image-Text-Book,” Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Grant, 2016 [Award amount: $10,000
Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography, Rare Book School, University of Virginia, 2013-2016[Award amount: ~$30,000]
PI, “Manuscript, Print, and the Organization of Knowledge,” a symposium at the Jerwood Center, Grasmere, UK, Sept. 2016. I-GRO Global Research Initiation Grant, University of North Texas [Award amount: $8,800]
PI, “Josiah Wedgwood and the Chemistry of Color,” Scholarly and Creative Activity Award, University of North Texas, 2016 [$4600]
PI, “Interdisciplinary Research in Literature and Science,” Micro-grant, University of North Texas, 2014-2015 [Award amount: $1500]
PI, “Bureaucracy and the Organization of Knowledge,” Rare Book School at University of Virginia, 2013-2014 [Award amount: $4,000]
PI, “The Beautiful Science of Medicine: Aesthetics in the Collections of William and John Hunter, 1750-1830,” American Philosophical Society Franklin Grant, 2014 [Award amount: $6,000]
Co-PI [with Gabriel Cervantes, Nora Gilbert, Justin Jones, and Marilyn Morris], 18th/19th-Century Studies Group Team Mentoring Grant, University of North Texas, 2014-2016 [Award amount: $7500]
PI, “Making Medicine a Beautiful Science: Aesthetics in the Collections of William and John Hunter,” Research Initiation Grant, University of North Texas, 2013 [Award amount: $10,000]
PI, “Advertising the Romantic Book,” Research Scholar Summer Travel Grant, Vanderbilt University, 2011[Award amount: $6000]
School Internationalisation Officer