Nancy Marck Cantwell
British Literature, Shakespeare, Women Writers, the Novel, and Narrative Theory
I enjoy teaching British literature, and I like to approach it from a historical and cultural perspective, examining the events and ideas influencing the production of the literary texts we study. I offer survey courses as well as more advanced courses in Shakespeare, the gothic, Victorian literature, and literary criticism and theory. I am interested in film adaptations of literary texts, so I use film clips to illustrate staging issues in Shakespeare, and I also offer a course on film adaptations of English novels, using both texts and their counterpart films. My course on the Gothic Imagination examines a subversive literary genre as it develops over three centuries, while major author classes on Chaucer, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens allow for the in-depth study of works produced by one writer in one historical period.
Most of my scholarly work employs feminist psychoanalytic theory to investigate texts produced by nineteenth-century women novelists, ranging from Jane Austen and George Eliot to Maria Edgeworth and Susan Ferrier. As the focus of my sabbatical leave in Spring 2013, I completed an article entitled “Narrative Abjection and Dislocution in Castle Rackrent,” which discusses gothic narrative elements in this Maria Edgeworth novel. My current research projects include an influence study linking Jane Austen and Susan Ferrier and articles on Bram Stoker’s The Snake’sPass and George Eliot’s Romola.
Some of my favorite experiences as a faculty member have taken place outside the classroom—my Literature of London course involves a Spring Break trip to visit literary sites in London; with Dr. Peterson, I devised an expanded version of the course that included Dublin on the syllabus and itinerary. While a week certainly isn’t long enough to really appreciate either city, it does help to make connections between the literary works we read and the places and times that we read about. As advisor to the English Club, I oversee the Chaucer Banquet, a medieval feast with entertainments. I have also taken some weekend trips with students to visit literary sites in Massachusetts and New York, and I hope to have that pleasure repeated in years to come.