102 Johnson Chapel
PO Box: AC# 2234
Amelia S. Worsley
Assistant Professor of English
Departmental affiliation: EnglishAmherst College
Professional and Biographical Information
Ph.D., Princeton University (2014)
M.A., Brown University (2008)
B.A., University of Cambridge, UK (2006)
I specialize in literature written in Britain from 1660-1830, especially poetry.
My classes on British Romantic literature often ask students to explore nineteenth-century texts in the broader context of the early modern and Enlightenment periods. “Solitude and the Self in British Romanticism,” for instance, begins with Shakespeare and Milton, in order to question how and why solitude later became so central to Romantic self-fashioning. In “British Romantic Poetry: Nature and the Imagination,” students explore how a new model of the imagination was conceptualized in relation to changing ideas about the environment, from country house poems, to Hume, Burke and Kant, to The Prelude, to Frankenstein.
I’m also interested in the history of poetry more broadly, as is apparent in my classes on “Engaging Literature: Close Reading,” and “Reading Poetry.” I also look forward to teaching a class on Early Women Writers next year.
I have tended to focus on literature that describes and imagines different kinds of marginalized figures. From the English Renaissance to Romantic period, my subjects have included lonely poets; overlooked women writers and characters; enslaved people; nonhuman animals; political outcasts and religious exiles.
In Loneliness: The Story of a State of Mind, I argue that studying the origins of the terms “lonely” and “loneliness” in early modern British literature recasts previous narratives of the Romantic poet and the poetic imagination. We have not always been “lonely,” in that we have not always had the word. My book suggests that the invention of loneliness in seventeenth-century literature constituted a new model of interiority. This new state of being recast previous assumptions about the relationship between solitariness and inwardness, which, in turn, was crucial to the development of the idea of the artist—and particularly the poet—in the early nineteenth century.
My next book project, Abolition and the Idea of the Animal in British Literature, 1660-1830, will also explore the politics of social exclusion, as it charts how changing attitudes to nonhuman animals, especially in the form of dietary movements such as vegetarianism, influenced anti-slavery rhetoric, from Milton to Mary Shelley.
“Ophelia’s Loneliness,” ELH, forthcoming.
Awards and Honors
Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni Teaching Award (2013).
Quin Morton Teaching Fellowship, Princeton University (2012-2014).
Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2011-12).
Cambridge University Craig Studentship, for study at Brown University (2006-7).