September 2017 – March 2018
This project re-evaluates the emphasis placed on intimacy and vicariousness in the history and phenomenology of nineteenth-century reading. Although the period of transatlantic literary history between 1830 and 1900 was dominated by the ascendancy of novelistic realism, writers in the United States during this time were particularly anxious about cultivating sympathetic identification between reader and character. The texts I analyze are concerned with migratory, recessive, and withheld minds that stray from the linear trajectories of plot and Bildung, fading away rather than fleshing out in the course of narrative representation. Whereas ethical and aesthetic theories of the nineteenth-century novel privilege its ability to render imagined interiority accessible, Minor Protagonists explores the poetics and pleasures of evasive subjectivity.
Elizabeth Brogden received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA) with a dissertation on para-novelistic writing and reading in the long 19th century. She has taught at Johns Hopkins, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (Munich), and Rhode Island School of Design. Her scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction and Studies in American Fiction.