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Dr Dahlia Porter
Lecturer in English Literature and Material Culture
Dr. Dahlia Porter joined the department of English Literature in 2017 as Lecture in English Literature. A native of Buffalo, NY, she took a BA from New York University, an M.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Before coming to Glasgow, she taught Eighteenth-century and Romantic literature at Vanderbilt University and the University of North Texas.
Dr. Porter’s research has focused on the organization of knowledge and literary form in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her first book, Science, Form and the Problem of Induction in British Romanticism (forthcoming, Cambridge UP) argues that the formal mixtures definitive of Romantic literature arose when authors applied the inductive method of experimental science to the work of literary composition. Writing in response to a moment of information saturation not unlike our own, Romantic authors both embraced and resisted a compositional method that generated, as Coleridge bemoaned, “an immense heap of little things.” Bridging the history of science and book history, the project isolates authors’ fraught responses to Enlightenment empiricism as materialized on the printed pages of Romantic books.
She is currently completing a second monograph, provisionally titled The Poetics of Inventory, which investigates the cultural and epistemological power of catalogues and inventories from 1750-1850. This book analyses catalogues of various kinds, including botanical taxonomies, lists of anatomical preparations, records of chemical experiments, topographical lists and maps, library and museum catalogues, and advertising lists of recent publications. It shows that these utilitarian forms of writing—catalogues and inventories were obviously produced to keep track of and organize physical objects in space—also function as conduits between scientific and aesthetic/literary/artistic spheres of thought and practice in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Taken together, the book’s chapters illuminate how modern scientific disciplines were born out of methodological and conceptual exchanges with what we now call the humanities.
Research and Teaching Interests
18th & 19th-Century Literature and Culture; History of Science, Medicine and Technology; Book History and Critical Bibliography; British Romanticism; Poetry and Poetics; the organization of knowledge; collecting
- College of Arts, School of Critical Studies