top of page

Season 4

S04E01 | "From Letters to Cartas:

Latinx Writing in Early America"

This episode explores how letters or cartas expounded universalist notions of political self-determination by cultivating intimate states of brotherhood or friendship across the Americas during the nineteenth century. In the recently published Letters from Filadelfia: Early Latino Literature and the Trans-American Elite, Rodrigo Lazo examines this archive to retrace the migrant steps of revolutionaries and writers between roughly 1790 to 1830: a group he calls the “trans-American elite.” Such epistolary writings sometimes reproduce and sometimes dislocate the racial, economic, and gender hierarchies of places where the Latin and Anglo Americas meet. Guest commentators John Morán González (University of Texas, Austin), Sandra Gustafson (University of Notre Dame), and Sharada Balachandran Orihuela (University of Maryland, College Park) reflect on the ways that integrating Spanish-language archives can change how we think about the early U.S. republic, as well as the cultural production of Latinx populations past and present. The episode is bookended by dramatic readings of excerpts of the letters mentioned in Letters from Filadelfia. It was produced by Carmen E. Lamas (University of Virginia) and Kirsten Silva Gruesz (University of California, Santa Cruz), with additional production support and original music from Paul Fess (La Guardia Community College, CUNY) and Douglas Guerra (SUNY Oswego).


Full transcript available here:    

S04E02 | "Comparative Settler Colonialisms:

Transatlantic Movements"

This episode considers Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies and artistic practice across the borders of nation states, and across oceans. Beginning with a nineteenth-century archival object, the episode turns to a conversation with artist Maria Hupfield (University of Toronto), who reflects on her work as an Indigenous artist and performer who has brought her art to different spaces and geographies. The episode concludes with a conversation with David Stirrup, the Director of the first Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies in the U.K., at the University of Kent. As nineteenth-century American literary studies increasingly recognizes the transnational dimensions of Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies, this episode looks beyond national borders for models of global and comparative studies that nevertheless account for particular national and local histories. This episode was produced by Melissa Gniadek (University of Toronto) and Xine Yao (University College London). Additional production support was provided by Rachel Boccio (LaGuardia Community College/CUNY), Chelsea Latremouille (University of Toronto), and Stephanie Redekop (University of Toronto). Full episode transcript available here.

S04E03 | "The Literary Capital of Pirates"   


This episode tracks the literary history of pirates in the long nineteenth-century United States and examines how literary pirates helped singers, readers, and writers contemplate the excesses of capitalism. In four acts, Lydia G. Fash highlights varying tropes for literary pirates. The first act considers the pirate anti-heroes in a ballad about Captain Kidd favored by sailors who had to endure the brutal maritime punishments of greedy captains. The second act moves to the depression that followed the Panic of 1837, when Edgar Allan Poe positioned pirate treasure as an alluring windfall to those struggling folk savvy enough to decipher its secret location. In the third act, Fash tells the story of “The Great Western Land Pirate,” John Murrell, the leader of an armed gang who attacked the rich in the Southeast. And in the final act, Fash highlights how abolitionists labeled enslavers as pirates--a tactic meant both to remind listeners of the legal status of the international slave trade after 1808 and to conjure the anger colonists came to feel about historic pirates. Yet this rhetorical strategy was ultimately weakened by the growing cachet of literary pirates at the mid-century. Throughout the nineteenth-century and beyond, pirate antiheroes, Fash argues, have allowed readers to navigate negative feelings about the inequities of capitalism without creating any corresponding desire for structural change. This episode was produced by Lydia G. Fash (Simmons University). Additional production support from Ittai Orr (University of Michigan). Full episode transcript available here.

S04E04 | "Comparative Settler Colonialisms (II): African Indigeneity and Southern Africa as Colony"

A nineteenth-century tunnel book inspires us to adopt different perspectives on settler colonial regimes and power structures. This second part in the diptych series on comparative settler colonialisms begins with an object lesson based in London about imperial gazes on different colonial landscapes. This episode features Dr. Xine Yao in conversation with Dr. T.J. Tallie, an Assistant Professor at the University of San Diego and author of Queering Colonial Natal: Indigeneity and the Violence of Belonging in Southern Africa (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). Tallie’s focus on nineteenth-century settler colonial histories in a region of what is now South Africa provides insight into structures of settler colonialism and ways to consider relationships between queerness, Indigeneity, and Blackness. This episode was produced by Melissa Gniadek (University of Toronto) and Xine Yao (University College London). Additional production support was provided by Rachel Boccio (LaGuardia Community College/CUNY), Chelsea Latremouille (University of Toronto), and Stephanie Redekop (University of Toronto). Full episode transcript here.

S04E05 | "Insights into Editing J19" 

In this episode, Elizabeth Duquette (Gettysburg College) and Stacey Margolis (University of Utah) discuss their experiences as co-editors of J19, the flagship journal of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. In a recording of the live Q&A event from April 29, 2021, Crystal Donkor (SUNY New Paltz) asks the outgoing editors questions about the intellectual challenges and pragmatics of shaping research in the field of nineteenth-century American studies. For more information on the current call for new J19 editors please visit or feel free to contact Betsy or Stacey directly ( Proposals are due by June 15, 2021. This episode was produced by Christine "Xine" Yao (University College London) and Doug Guerra (SUNY Oswego). Full transcript available here.

S04E06 | "Irreverence toward the Canon"

Have we really witnessed, in the words of a 2016 J19 forum, “the end of the end of the canon?” This episode builds on the #VirtualC19 roundtable “Irreverence toward the Canon” held in October 2020. Envisioning the episode as the kind of conversation that ensues in the hallways after a conference panel, Carie Schneider (Cameron University) and Sean Gordon (University of Massachusetts Amherst) ask four basic questions: What is the canon? What is irreverence toward the canon? How do we do irreverence toward the canon? And why? After discussing canonicity in terms of their respective fields and methodologies, Schneider and Gordon go on to discuss what it means to assume an irreverent disposition in our teaching and research. Connecting irreverence to abolition, institutional power, and contemporary conversations about monuments, they gather ideas about how to inspire a politics of irreverence in our students and what cultivating such a disposition may mean for the future of the field—and beyond.


The episode was produced by Carie Schneider and Sean Gordon and features the contributions of Julia W. Bernier (Washington & Jefferson College), Crystal S. Donkor (SUNY New Paltz), and Emily Gowen (Boston University). Music by Asura, Audiobinger, Broke for Free, and Loyalty Freak Music, and is used under Creative Commons licenses. Additional production support was provided by Ashley Rattner (Tusculum University). Full episode transcript available here.

S04E07 | "The Disease of Unemployment: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives on Today’s Ailing Economy"

The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 resulted in not only a devastating loss of life, but a loss of jobs too. As the virus swept the United States, so too did unemployment. What Americans experienced last year during the pandemic was unprecedented in some ways, but the link between crises in health and employment is nothing new. To gain some historical perspective on our most recent epidemic of unemployment, this episode travels back to the depressions of the late nineteenth century to uncover how American economists and thinkers used metaphors of contagious disease to first conceptualize what it meant to be unemployed. Produced by Hillary Roegelein (University of Maryland, College Park), a specialist in nineteenth-century American literature and unemployment history, this episode raises historical and philosophical questions about the advantages of and limitations to thinking about unemployment as a disease. Roegelein is joined by two other scholars of nineteenth-century American culture. Sari Altschuler (Northeastern University) turns to the Cholera outbreak of the 1840s to offer insight into the way pandemics repeatedly give rise to major shifts in cultural, economic, and intellectual thought. And Historian Richard White (Stanford University) explains the history of unemployment and its conceptual development in the United States before 1930. Additional production support was provided by Paul Fess (La Guardia Community College, CUNY). Full episode transcript available here.

S04E08 | "Teaching Harriet Jacobs in the Archives"

This episode highlights the ways that librarians and faculty can partner in designing assignments that draw on archival records to emphasize the cultural, political, and social significance of nineteenth-century literary texts. Specifically, we explore the affordances of using archival records, particularly bills of sale for enslaved people, to teach Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Wake Forest University English faculty and Special Collections and Archives librarians talk about the discoveries students make through assignments that allow them to incorporate nineteenth-century historical documents from slavery into their reading and analysis of Jacobs’s narrative. We also consider the significant emotional challenges that this kind of direct material engagement poses, discussing the ways we have presented and revised our assignments to account for potentially traumatic triggering. Episode produced by Carrie Johnston (Digital Humanities Research Designer), Rian Bowie (Associate Teaching Professor of English), Megan Mulder (Special Collections Librarian), Tanya Zanish-Belcher (Director of Special Collections and Archives) and Brianna Derr (Wake Forest University Information Systems). Additional production support from Doug Guerra (SUNY Oswego). Full episode transcript with additional links available here.


Image: Carta de Vicente Rocafuerte desde Londres al Libertador Simón Bolívar (1824)

(Letter of Vicente Rocafuerte from London to the

Liberator Simón Bolívar)

bottom of page