Megan Quinn

B.A. (Duke University, 2005), M.Phil. in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies (University of Cambridge, UK, 2009)

My dissertation—The Sensation of Language: Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Mary Shelley—explores moments within British Romantic writing when words impart sensations, from an elevated pulse to the feeling of cold. Criticism on the Romantic era frequently neglects these moments, focusing instead on the problems of language as a medium for the mind or imagination. Turning from the immaterial mind, I contextualize Romantic-era writing in terms of sentimental models of feeling and materialist philosophy of language. I argue that Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, and Mary Shelley addressed concerns about the authenticity of language and emotion by conceiving words as agents of immediate physical sensations, and thus sources of newly visceral sympathy.

My article, "The Sensation of Language in Jane Austen's Persuasion," will appear in Eighteenth-Century Fiction 30.2 (2018). My research and teaching interests include: British Romantic literature, eighteenth-century literature, nineteenth-century literature, the history of the novel, poetry and poetics, philosophy of language, sensory studies, material culture, literary and critical theory, gender studies, and Jane Austen studies.

In 2015 my teaching exercise, “Fill in the Blanks,” was published in Princeton University Press’s collection of active learning exercises for the literature classroom, The Pocket Instructor: Literature. Based on Mad Libs, the exercise asks students to fill in teacher-prepared blanks in a passage from a distinctive stylist like William Faulkner, helping them to recognize the linguistic choices that define the writer's style.
At Princeton, I have taught as an Assistant Instructor for “Children’s Literature,” “Reading Literature: The Essay,” “Introduction to English Literature: 14th to 18th Century,” and “Jane Austen in Context.” From 2013-2015, I served as a co-organizer of the English Department’s Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies Colloquium.