Social Tragedy amidst Disease and Isolation: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in Retrospect by Tabinda Khan

The soul yearns, with inexpressible longings, for the society of its like. Because the public safety unwillingly commands the confinement of an offender, must he for that reason never light up his countenance with a smile? Who can tell the sufferings of him who is condemned to uninterrupted solitude? Who can tell that this is not, to the majority of mankind, the bitterest torment that human ingenuity can inflict?

William Godwin, Political Justice 228-29.

           William Godwin’s radical text Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness (1793) highlights the importance of society and social interaction for the overall health and happiness of an individual. This section of Political Justice begins by stating that individuals are social animals and a certain balance is needed between society and solitude to reap the advantages of both.

For about the past six months, the entire world has experienced the unprecedented circumstance of social distancing due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown has turned our daily realities upside down and within a few weeks of the shutdown, the effect of isolation and the absence of physical interaction with our peers slowly crept up on our subconscious. Moreover, at the end of month of May the world was shocked by the brutal murder of George Floyd that brought the Black Lives Matter campaign to the forefront in the global media. The Black Lives Matter global network that started to organize about four years[1] ago is a call to justice against the law enforcement authorities and vigilantes that commit violence against Black communities. As major cities in the United States erupted with protests as a call to justice against the state violence against Black communities, we became conscious of another kind of isolation ─ an isolation that stems from intentional marginalization and oppression of communities, which forces them into a state of worthlessness with daily experiences of desperation.

The murder of George Floyd amidst an on-going pandemic sheds a new light on the cultural and literary significance of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The way the narrative resonates with our contemporary events two hundred years later is scary, but also interrogates the condition of our current society and how it deals with systemic racism.

What we observe in Shelley’s novel predominantly is isolation: social isolation of an individual and then their reaction to the oppression in the form of revolutionary violence. Shelley’s Frankenstein is an apt depiction of disasters stemming from isolation. In her novel, she conveys that isolation can have powerful consequences whether chosen, begrudgingly adopted, or more importantly if inflicted upon someone. Victor Frankenstein’s inability to confess the truth about his scientific creation (i.e. the monster), and the fear of its hideous appearance which leads him to abandon it in an unfamiliar world, are manifested in silent oppression and injustice.

Prolonged effects of physical isolation can have disastrous effects on an individual psychological condition. Within a few months of lockdown governments and the public observed mounting rates of anxiety and a mental health crisis around the world. In a recent article, “This is not a normal Mental-Health Disaster,” Jacob Stern provides a survey of the rising statistics of anxiety and PTSD related cases in the on-going aftermath of the pandemic, specifically in the Unites States. This aftermath involves everyone, from immediate loved ones of the victims, health-care workers, and frontline workers to everyone dealing with work and education at home. In the article, Stern examines the unpredictable nature of a pandemic in comparison to a natural disaster. During a pandemic there is no sense of certainty as there is no clear boundary and end in sight. Therefore, the anxiety and depression it produces are extraordinary in nature (Stern “Not a Normal”).

Stern includes the comments of the longtime PTSD researcher Joe Ruzek at Stanford University and Palo Alto University, who describes this condition as having “no safe zones.”

This idea of having no safe zone is poignantly depicted by Shelley in the monster’s conditions of living and survival. He essentially lives in hiding and his disastrous interaction with the real world and other people inflicts upon him constant fear and isolation:

I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kind of missel weapons, I escaped to the open country, and fearfully took refuge in a low hovel…” (124)

         This image of panic and commotion also resonates with the panic induced by the initial spread of the virus within communities globally. The monster’s act of escape into his hovel and his hiding becomes a necessity for his survival, just as physical distancing has become a necessity for us as we hide from the virus in our homes.

In the article, Stern directly relates the lack of physical and spatial safety to a lack of temporal safety: “From spatial uncertainty comes temporal uncertainty. If we can’t know where we are safe, then we can’t know when we are safe” (Stern). Therefore, the monster’s process of continual hiding also makes him aware of his transient and unacknowledged existence.

The monster’s state of physical isolation is deeply intertwined with the formation of his identity. His attempts to free himself from his misery and isolation involve his intense and deep observation of his environment, which includes his admiration of and affinity with the De Lacey family. Furthermore, he educates himself by listening to Felix’s narration of Volney’s Ruins of Empires and by reading the three books that he discovers in the leather portmanteau: Plutarch Lives, Paradise Lost and the Sorrows of Werter. His accomplishment is a proof of his intellectual abilities and he applies this learning to voice his sorrows to Victor and make demands for justice and freedom. However, his attempts to free himself, which include interaction with the outer world and verbal negotiations with Victor to create a female counterpart to remedy his isolation, all succumb to failure. This continual failure fuels his sense of desperation and comes out as revenge specifically against his creator, Victor.

Shelley places the roots of this revenge in the social conditions of abandonment, poverty, isolation, and hunger. The monster is a victim of all of these, and thus Shelley’s exploration of revolutionary violence is effective and complex. These themes are also an important reason that the novel resonates with the Black Lives Matter campaign, as a civil rights movement that demands justice for individuals belonging to communities who have been systematically oppressed and deprived of material resources to strengthen their identities. This sentiment is also expressed by Dr. Robin D.G Kelley in his recent article, “What kind of Society Values Property over Black Lives?” In his article, Kelley acutely examines the rhetoric of the media and how it undermines the voice of justice and revolution by focusing on the elements of looting and destruction. He begins his article by conveying a common and prominent question asked about the protests: “Why are they looting?”  Kelley answers this question by stating: “It’s asked every time protests against police violence erupt into civil unrest. We know the answers by now: Poverty, anger, age, rage and a sense of helplessness.” In the first week of June, as cities across US saw massive protests, the news also began covering the accompanying damage to property and looting in these cities.

This aspect of damage and violence is crucial because media coverage begins to undermine the impetus of a civil rights movement that in itself is against violence and oppression in the first place. In my opinion, this process of deflection by the media is a core factor or hurdle in the progress of social reform. Kelley also emphasizes this point by saying that this kind of media strategy deflects the public’s attention from the core problem that brought people to the streets: “The police keep killing us with impunity. Instead, once the burning and looting start, the media often shifts to the futility of ‘violence’ as a legitimate path to justice. Crime becomes the story. Riots, we are told, cause harm by foreclosing constructive solutions.” In Kelley’s opinion, such kinds of rebellions have done more than just shed light on American racism; “they have also spawned investigations and limited reforms when traditional appeals have failed.” What we can understand from Kelley’s examination is the complex nature of these public protests and their necessity and benefit for the betterment of society. On the other hand, the destructive elements accompanying these protests are ultimately used by the forces of oppression as a reason to stifle the voice of justice. Likewise, this double aspect of rebellion and civil unrest is depicted by Shelley in the monster’s acts of revenge.

The monster’s violence in Frankenstein is a form of self-expression and agency in opposition to Victor’s silence. Through Victor’s character Shelley shows us the trajectory of a personal disaster turning into a bigger social and moral disaster. Her novel gives us a glimpse of her perspective on revolutionary violence that stands alongside her father William Godwin’s ideologies of moral and political justice as well as her husband Percy Shelley’s advocacy of non-violent resistance in his works like Queen Mab, The Mask of Anarchy, and Prometheus Unbound. Hence, her novel becomes a dialogue with those ideas, which had a profound effect on her life as well as her development as a writer and a thinker.

Thus, in a time of an on-going pandemic Shelley’s novel forces us to think about the constructive ways through which we can help our immediate community and society at large in the face of ongoing injustice. The Black Lives Matter campaign has a strong and persistent online presence, but in the month of June we witnessed a staggering number of physical protests around North America. The public came out in person to support the movement despite the pandemic. So what does this say to us about the actual nature of revolution? Are physical presence and action necessary when print and verbal efforts fail?

The conclusion of Shelley’s novel does not provide us with any consolation but rather an unsettling circumstance. In the final scene we witness the monster lament the death of his creator, which also serves as a declaration of self-imposed exile and isolation:

I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched. He is dead who called me into being; and when I shall be no more, the very remembrance of us both will speedily vanish. I shall no longer see the sun or stars or feel the winds play on my cheeks. Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in this condition must I find my happiness. (220)

         The monster’s expression of remorse is significant because he is not only grieving the loss of his creator, but more importantly of the only individual aware of his existence, and his connection to the entirety of mankind. Thus, Victor’s death is also the loss of the monster’s self-identity which up until now has been barely intact due Victor’s oppressive silence and fear of his own ambitious scientific creation. Victor’s death does not offer the monster the freedom he has been seeking the entire narrative, but instead serves as the final nail in the coffin, and leads to a pitiful fate of ultimate loneliness and eventual death, whenever that may be.


Works Cited

Godwin, William. Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness. In Shelley 223-238.

Kelley, Robin D.G. “What Kind of Society Values Property Over Black Lives?” The New York Times, 18 June 2020,

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus. Edited by Kathleen Dorothy Scherf and David Lorne Macdonald, Broadview Press, 2012.

Stern, Jacob. “This Is Not a Normal Mental-Health Disaster.” The Atlantic, 7 July 2020,

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Call for Papers: Fall Blog Series hosted by NGSC

Fall Blog Series hosted by NGSC

Deadline for Abstract and Author Bio Submissions: August 31, 2020

Contact email:

The NASSR Graduate Student Caucus welcomes abstracts by fellow graduate students related to the gothic, sublime/uncanny, and supernatural themes associated with the Romantic Period. This online blog series is intended to reimagine how graduate students can discuss and share their scholarship in a productive and meaningful digital setting beyond the confines of traditional face-to-face conferences. All accepted applicants will have their final essays published in the fall issue for the NGSC quarterly blog series on the Humanities Commons throughout October 2020. 

Although all proposals will be considered, we are most interested in essays about Romantic-era works relating to the gothic, supernatural, and macabre for this fall issue, with special emphasis pertaining to:

  • The sublime/uncanny
  • Gothic monsters 
  • Romantic works by women and persons of color
  • Personal, social, and political anxieties/ fears

Submission Guidelines

We are asking those interested to submit 300 to 500 words abstracts and 200 words author biographies by August 31, 2020. Abstracts and author biographies should use Times New Roman, 12-point font, double-spacing, and be combined into a single file submission. Please submit your application by email at, with your last name and the word FallblogseriesSubmission” as the file name. 

About the NASSR Graduate Student Caucus

The NASSR Graduate Student Caucus (NGSC) is intended as a venue, under the aegis of NASSR (North American Society for the Study of Romanticism;, for graduate students interested in the study of Romanticism to make contact with one another and to share intellectual and professional resources.

We are committed to working together to further the interests, not only of the graduate student community in Romantic studies, but also of the broader profession, by helping to train active and engaged scholars who will continue to strengthen and advance themselves and the discipline. Moreover, the NASSR Graduate Student Caucus is fully committed to helping young scholars engage in antiracist conversations surrounding Romantic-era literature. All graduate student members of NASSR are invited to attend caucus meetings and to participate in elections and panels.

For any queries, please feel free to email the organization committee at, or visit our website at for more information.

“The Liberty of the Press”: The French Revolution Debate to Present by Hanna Warsame

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The Reign of Terror ignited a widespread moral debate on both sides of the English Channel, at the same time creating a ripple effect of meta-discourse on the value and influence of the printing press on the public sphere. In response to legislation in England designed to limit the writings of revolutionary sympathizers, William Godwin exclaimed:

The liberty of the press! If anything human is to be approached with awe, it is this […] The press [is] that great engine for raising men to the dignity of gods, for expanding [the] human understanding, for annihilating, by the most gentle and salubrious methods, all the arts of oppression… (229, 231)

While an expression such as “free speech” might have added political associations in the modern day, Godwin’s argument for “the liberty of the press” is far less anachronistic, making the debates concerning print culture in the long eighteenth-century relevant for today.

In particular, post-revolutionary discourse may help us navigate the current social and political discussions centered on human rights in the United States. The Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd opened up a series of clashes between police and protesters that made people reflect on similar instances of oppression and violence witnessed in history, such as that of the Arab Spring, and farther back, the French Revolution itself (Serhan).

According to the Helsinki Commission, there have been “nearly 500 reported press violations since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter protests [on] May 26.” As Yasmeen Serhan states in The Atlantic, these attacks and arrests made by police have made it clear that those “who identified themselves as members of the press” were being targeted. Much like revolutions and protests of the past, journalists were arrested at a much higher rate than usual – six times as many, in fact – in an effort by authorities to limit and control the media landscape (Serhan).

The similarities in public violence are glaring in the case of the French Revolution. While Godwin formed his arguments regarding press freedom in 1795, it was only one year earlier that the famous Treason Trials were taking place in judicial courtrooms. Thomas Paine was perhaps the most memorable victim of these trials designed to imbue punishment on reformist writers in England. Paine was one among many Jacobins under “intensified criminal surveillance” by the government, who intended to “curb the circulation [of] political texts” and deter revolutionary sympathizers from creating further publications (Keen 197). The English government finally attempted to convict Paine, whose famous text Rights of Man was written as a response to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. The Treason Trials followed the publication of Paine’s second book and Paine’s subsequent escape to France.

Thomas Erskine, who acted as the leading defendant in the trials, argued that Paine’s book was “addressed to the intellectual world upon so profound and complicated a subject,” that it was incapable of deserving the accused charges of sedition and libel (32). However, prosecutor Sir Archibauld Macdonald proposed that the text preyed on “the ignorant” and “the desperate,” who were altogether vulnerable to “[the anarchist] doctrine that there is neither law nor government among us,” (32).

The Treason Trials of 1794 marked a distinct moment in history where a democratic government chose to target and punish members of the press for their political, anti-authoritian views. While the English government were unsuccessful in their attempt to convict Paine, the arguments presented by the prosecution, concerning the power of the printing press to influence the reading public, was a view shared by both reformists and conservatives alike. Burke repudiated the printing press as a whole for its role in guiding English citizens towards support of the French Revolution, when he warned that “writers, especially when they act in a body, and with one direction, have great influence on the public mind,” (202). Perhaps this is what too caused the police officers in the United States to choose members of the press, out of any other group, as a target during the Black Lives Matter protests. Limiting the public’s access to knowledge is almost a priority for figures of authority who knowingly break the law. At the Helsinki Commission hearing on U.S. Press Freedom, journalist Christiane Amanpour testified to this extent when she stated that “the polarized political climate [has] forced elements of the media in the United States into political corners, and this undermines trust and the ability of the press to inform the public,” (17:31).

Where does the notion that the press is both precarious and overpowering originate? It may be argued that it was the language of the Jacobins themselves that augmented the conservative belief concerning the dangers arising from political discussion. For instance, in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, William Godwin stated that literature is the means of obtaining truth, through “the collision of mind with mind” (4). For Godwin, it was a virtue of literature that it “failed to produce universal conviction,” but rather created “irrefragable argument,” (4). Godwin’s early emphasis on the “collision” of ideas and arguments necessary for meaningful discussion paired well with William Hazlitt’s later view concerning the power of the press. Hazlitt argued that the reading public became the engine for extracting justice for the oppressed, in a manner that aimed to remain both “impartial and disinterested,” (23). Thus when the misconduct of a nobleman was brought to light, “he could no more stand against [public opinion] than against a train of artillery placed on the opposite heights to batter down his stronghold,” (Hazlitt 24).

These descriptions of literature and the reading public advanced, whether intentionally or not, an active and violent connotation of what may lie at the end of intellectual discourse and discussion. Consequently, these terminologies of political action provided the fuel for conservatives and anti-Jacobins in England who traced the source of revolutionary fervor, as well as the blame of extremist acts – such as riots, massacres, and attacks on the Crown – to the printing press itself.

Anti-revolutionaries therefore emphasized wherever they could that reformists were not interested in the exchange of ideas, but rather the instilling of violence. This is a matter we still see introduced and debated today when it comes to revolutions, although in its modern reconstruction: protesters are deemed as only interested in creating chaos, not merely calling for change. While it was possible for writers such as Burke in the late eighteenth-century to convince the general public on the flaws of the revolutionaries, this reasoning lead to the censorship and punishment of writers themselves, which transformed the debate from an issue of intellectualism to one concerning human rights. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America, regarding restrictions on press freedom in France, “if you establish a censorship of the press, the tongue of the public speaker will still make itself heard,” (213). In other words, the censorship of the press was neither the moral nor the logical answer to those who found that their dogma was in opposition to leading reformists.

Today, creating an honest depiction of Democrats and Republicans in media and in print is as much of a difficulty as it was in the past to navigate the contrasting views of conservatives and reformists in the English public sphere. In Reflections on the Revolutions in France, Edmund Burke lamented the deaths of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, to which Thomas Paine famously responded that “Mr. Burke should recollect that he is writing History, and not Plays,” (206). Paine responded in such a manner to restate the point that Mary Wollstonecraft had made previously, that Burke’s excessive sentimentalism for the royal family was inappropriate at best (204). Paine’s emphasis on Burke’s failure to sympathize with those who had been imprisoned in the Bastille (206), in the same way that he sympathized with the nobility, is an appropriate criticism that can be applied to the modern day – it is indeed reminiscent of the victimization of police by partisan media during the Black Lives Matter protests. In contrast to the growing narrative in support of police, Matt Ford reported in June that,

Police officers have largely responded violently, with abusive and authoritarian tactics. Social media networks are flooded with footage and accounts of cops shoving elderly pedestrians and innocent bystanders into pavement, bludgeoning journalists or pelting them with rubber bullets, and dispersing lawful crowds with tear gas and overwhelming force. (The New Republic)

Despite the blatant misconduct and violence attributed to the police, certain media programs began shifting the optics: American protesters had, like those in the French Revolution, gone too far, and the oppressors of freedom began to become the victims themselves. “If we’re going to speak of rioting protesters,” argued Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times, “then we need to speak of rioting police as well.” For Bouie, the escalating violence from both groups was quintessentially symbolic of a much larger ideology: the “constant battle over who truly counts – who can act as a full and equal member of this society – and who does not.”

Thus with every revolution follows the eternal, enigmatic question: what are the limits of morality? The power of the printing press inspired Romantic writers to respond with ideas that were nonetheless dependent on historical and political contexts. Social inequality and economic instability are the paradigms of both past and present revolutionary times. The backdrop of centuries of systemic racism is an added issue that heightened the emotions reverberating through this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, and which helps to distinguish the cultural divide between the post-revolutionary debates of the eighteenth-century and the modern day. However, beyond the boundaries of historicism, it is the universality of oppression, the devaluation of human rights, and violent authoritarianism that are all implicit in the conversations that take place in both public spheres. How does one navigate the conundrums of right and wrong, particularly in an environment where strains are placed on one’s access to political knowledge and the intellectual discussions surrounding it?

Alexis de Tocqueville argued for an ideal: that “every citizen must be presumed to possess the power of discriminating between the different opinions of his contemporaries, and of appreciating the different facts from which inferences may be drawn,” (213). However, for Tocqueville, there was also a danger in “radical equality,” which was vulnerable to refashioning the cause of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité into an excessive form of individuality that distanced itself from the collective community (Wood).

It seems that Tocqueville’s concerns were anticipated by the English conservatives of the eighteenth century, nearly fifty years prior; particularly by Whig members of Parliament. However, for the reformists, “radical equality” was not the most pressing concern. It was only after the liberty of the press was established that there could be room for universal principles to start to form. Thomas Paine reflected these sentiments when he wrote to a critic that, “it is a dangerous attempt in any government to say to a nation, ‘thou shalt not read,’” (210).

For current times, a methodological approach resembling that of the English Jacobins and French revolutionaries is an undervalued form of political resistance, just as it was in the late eighteenth-century. Paine outlined the sources of opposition toward injustices made by the English government, highlighting issues such as disparities in education, the economy, and the class system under a monarchical government (211). In his view, the oppression faced by both the English and French alike could be challenged through rational arguments and, as Godwin might say, “the diffusion of knowledge through the medium of discussion,” – or, in other words – through literature itself (3).

“From what we now see, nothing of reform in the political world ought to be held improbable,” Thomas Paine wrote, in Rights of Man (206). “It is an age of Revolutions, in which every thing may be looked for.”

Works Cited

Bouie, Jamelle. “The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It.” The New York Times, 07 June 2020,

Burke, Edmund. “Reflections on the Revolution in France and on the Proceedings in Certain Societies in London Relative to that Event (1790).” Keen, pp. 199-202.

Erskine, Thomas. “Speech as Prosecution in the Seditious-Libel Trial of Thomas Paine for Rights of Man Part Two (1792).” Keen, pp. 32-33.

Ford, Matt. “The Police Were a Mistake.” The New Republic, 02 June 2020,

Godwin, William. “An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness (1793).” Keen, pp. 3-5.

—. “Considerations on Lord Grenville’s and Mr. Pitt’s Bills, Concerning Treasonable and Seditious Practices, and Unlawful Assemblies (1795).” Keen, pp. 227-32.

Hazlitt, William. “The Influence of Books (1828).” Keen, pp. 23-4.

Keen, Paul, editor. Revolutions in Romantic Literature: An Anthology of Print Culture, 1780-1832, Broadview Press, 2004.

Macdonald, Sir Archibauld. “Speech as Prosecution in the Seditious-Libel Trial of Thomas Williams for Publishing Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine (1797).” Keen, pp. 32.

Paine, Thomas. “Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation (1792).” Keen, pp. 209-10.

—. “Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution (1791-1792).” Keen, pp. 205-7.

Serhan, Yasmeen. “The ‘Absurd’ New Reality of Reporting From the U.S.” The Atlantic, 19 June 2020,

Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America (1835), edited by Henry Reeves, Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2006.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. “Vindication of the Rights of Men, in a Letter to the Right Honourable Edmund Burke; occasioned by his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).” Keen, pp. 203-5.

Wood, James. “Tocqueville in America.” The New Yorker, 17 May 2010,

“Christiane Amanpour to Testify at Helsinki Commission Hearing on Press Freedom in the United States.” Helsinki Commission, 16 July 2020,

“Hearing: Human Rights at Home: Media, Politics, and the Safety of Journalists.” Youtube, uploaded by Helsinki Commission, 23 July 2020,


Introduction to “Disastrous Summers”

By Holly Horner, edited by Jordan Green and Sigmund Jakob Michael Stephan

“Disastrous Summers,” the first installment of the NGSC’s quarterly blog series, collects a set of essays by graduate students related to social, personal, environmental, and political disasters associated with the Romantic Period. As part of this ongoing blog series, we interrogated how the conversations surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic and the  #BlackLivesMatter protests are exacerbated by events and texts from the Romantic Period. Our first upcoming submissions consider how Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is an allegory for COVID-19 and social distancing in 2020; and how Shelley’s Last Man explores the ways in which modernity fuels pandemic disease. Alongside our initial eco-centric inquiry, “Disastrous Summers” also invited writers to engage in a more urgent consideration: how graduate students must be critical of the Romantic period’s participation in imperialistic practices by adopting the #Bigger6 philosophy of performing antiracist and anticolonial work in the study of Romanticism by moving our critical focus beyond the initial “Big Six” of Romanticism and recouping historically marginalized voices. Many thanks to those who answered our CFP.


**EXTENDED** NASSR Grad Student Caucus Elections: Call for Nominations

Washington Allston, Landscape with Lake (1804)

**We’ve decided to extend the deadline for nominations until Monday, August 12!**

Dear all,

The NASSR Graduate Student Caucus (NGSC) is having an open call for 4 new co-chairs, 2 from the US and 2 from Canada. Please submit nominations (self-nominations are welcome) to with a 150-word bio by Wednesday July 10th. We will then post the nominees on our blog the following day.

Continue reading “**EXTENDED** NASSR Grad Student Caucus Elections: Call for Nominations”

As Autumn Turns to Winter

By Emily Rupp

When I took my undergraduate survey course on British literature from the Romantics to the present, I had a little habit of writing down the poems I loved reading the most into the margins of my (now abandoned) bullet journal.  The imagery of the poems most often motivated me to collect them, but I also kept poems that held messages that resonated with me.  I didn’t want to forget them, and I certainly haven’t as “To Autumn,” by John Keats, keeps coming back into my mind as this semester comes to a close.
Continue reading “As Autumn Turns to Winter”

Connection and Taking Care: Lamb and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

By Lillian Lu

In the recent Netflix film, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, set in 1946, London writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James), tired of publishing under her usual pseudonym and still recovering from the trauma of losing her parents and home during the war, is searching for something to write about. The answer comes when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman), a farmer from the island of Guernsey, who was one of the founding members of the eponymous book club during the war years and who has come across her copy of Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia. As the island has no more bookshops, he asks if she can send him an address of a London bookshop that might carry more of Lamb’s books. The Romantic essayist, Dawsey tells Juliet, was a great comfort to him during World War II, during which Guernsey was occupied by the Germans, all children evacuated, a curfew put in place, land mines planted on the beach, and their livestock taken away.
Continue reading “Connection and Taking Care: Lamb and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

#NASSR18 Day One

By Stephanie Edwards

Throughout the weekend, we will be having some guest bloggers share their experiences at NASSR’s 2018 conference. Today, Alicia McCartney takes us through a wide array of panels in her recap of day one of the conference!
If you are at #NASSR18 and would like to contribute a post, please get in touch with Stephanie Edwards, our Managing Editor, at

My NASSR2018 experience began, perhaps aptly, with discussions about the end of the world.  The first panel of the day, “Mary Shelley’s Ends,” featured Jennifer Hargrave, Jamison Kantor, and Chris Washington discussing Shelley’s The Last Man and Frankenstein. Pathology, quantum physics, apocalypse, and critique of empire all played a large role in this conversation, and Hargrave in particular observed that The Last Man demonstrates a complex critique of the imperialist/colonial shift.
Continue reading “#NASSR18 Day One”