Mollie Barnes, Ph.D.

Mollie Barnes, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of English
Department of English, Theater, and Interdisciplinary Studies

Library 255
One University Boulevard
Bluffton, SC 29909
Mollie Barnes, Ph.D.

My specialty is nineteenth-century U.S. literature—a field that invites us to trace dynamic changes in our world, globally and locally, at the same time. At USCB, I teach courses about this cultural moment but also about the broader contexts and periods that transcend my research focus and made me love English studies in the first place. Most fall semesters, I teach students in Composition and Rhetoric, Introduction to English Studies, and an upper-division literature seminar. Most spring semesters, I teach students in Composition and Literature, Survey of American Literature, and an upper-division literature seminar. In summer 2015, I ran “Abolitionism in the Sea Islands,” a Maymester course I’ve designed to dovetail with my research on social reform. In summer 2020, I’ll run “Authors By The River” with Dr. Sarah Swofford, a Maymester course that will teach students to read and research books by local authors—and then to write scripts for podcast episodes paired with Dr. Caroline Sawyer’s “By The River” television series. Dr. Lauren Hoffer and I are the founding faculty sponsors of May River Review, USCB’s Interdisciplinary Research Journal.


In varying ways, these courses challenge me to grapple afresh with debates that motivate my scholarship. While my current projects first began as studies of place, I have come to appreciate the ways transatlanticism urges me to pose more encompassing questions: What intellectual borderlines define “American Literature”? How do our critical dispositions affect how we read what we read? Finally, what do transatlantic studies do, and how might we think of them as historically located reading practices (not just as theoretical perspectives)? I’m working now on essays about Margaret Fuller, Charlotte Forten Grimké, and Emma Lazarus that address these issues as they surface in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I’m revising my first book project, “Unifying Ambivalence: Transatlantic Italy and the Anglo-American Historical Imagination,” which studies “problem” texts written by Anglo-American expatriates during the Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy, and the years immediately following this revolutionary period. I’m also writing my second book project: “Lowcountry Transatlanticism: Reform Literatures and Networks in the Sea Islands, 1838–1865.”  


Fuller is the heart of my current scholarship: her weekly conversazione drew people to her work and into her circle, and with well-known intensity that matches the respect she now garners as an author and editor, an activist and feminist. I count Fuller’s love of conversation as just one of many literary pearls reminding me how fortunate I am to think and talk about ideas with good people every single day. In fact, that’s my very favorite part of teaching and working with students.

Selected Awards & Grants

Legacy 2018 Society for the Study of American Women Writers Best Paper Contest Winner, “Abolitionist Bodies in Charlotte Forten’s Sea Islands Journals and Liberator Articles.”

Sea Islands Institute Grant: “SCETV & USCB’s By The River Interdisciplinary Podcast,” with Drs. Sarah Swofford and Caroline Sawyer.

NEH Summer Institute: Transcendentalism and Social Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller.

University of Georgia Department of English Emerita Faculty Award for Dissertation Research.

Nathaniel Hawthorne Society Travel Grant.


Articles & Chapters

“Margaret Fuller’s Late Abolitionist Rhetoric: How She Changed Her Mind.” Nineteenth-Century American Activist Rhetorics, edited by Patricia Bizzell and Lisa Zimmerelli, MLA Press, forthcoming 2021.

“Teaching to Resist, Teaching to Recover: Abolitionist Bodies in Charlotte Forten’s Sea Islands Journals and Newspaper Articles.” Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, vol. 37, no. 2, fall 2020.

“Edith Wharton’s Old New York: Nineteenth-Century American Literary History and the Art of Selection in The Age of Innocence.” Critical Insights on Edith Wharton, edited by Myrto Drizou, Salem, 2017, pp. 139–154.

“‘My Mere Narration’: Fanny Kemble’s Intercessions in Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation.” Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, winter 2017.

“Historical Imagination in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Casa Guidi Windows.” Victorian Poetry, vol. 54, no. 1, spring 2016, pp. 41–68.

with Rebecca Weber, “Lions and Tigers and Bears and Environmentalists, Oh My: An Ecocritical Reading of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” The Oswald Review, vol.7, 2005, pp. 1–45.

Profiles & Reviews

Solicited Review of American Travel Literature, Gendered Aesthetics, and the Italian Tour, 1824–1862 by Brigitte Bailey. Conversations: Margaret Fuller Society Newsletter, vol. 3, no. 1, spring 2019, pp.7–9.

Solicited Review of Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and edited by Koritha Mitchell. Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, vol. 36, no. 1, spring 2019, pp. 167–169.

Scholar Profile. 19 Cents: Nineteenth-Century Studies Association Blog, 30 Apr. 2018. Web.

“SSAWW 2015 Conference: ‘Liminal Spaces, Hybrid Lives.’” Solicited Review of Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference. U.S. Studies Online, 8 Jan. 2016. Web.

with Kristin Boudreau, “Early Nineteenth-Century Literature.” American Literary Scholarship. Duke UP, 2007, pp. 257–279. (composed bibliography for the 1800–1850 chapter; collected materials for review)

with Kristin Boudreau, “Early Nineteenth-Century Literature.” American Literary Scholarship. Duke UP, 2006, pp. 221–250. (composed bibliography for the 1800–1850 chapter; collected materials for review; wrote section on Harriet Beecher Stowe)


Literature Presentations

“Feminist Genealogies, Feminist Pedagogies: How Fuller Teaches Us to Imagine Public Humanities in 2020.” American Literature Association Conference, San Diego, CA. May 2020.

“Liberation Tides: the Edisto River, the Combahee River, and Charlotte Forten’s Sea Islands Journals.” College English Association Conference, Hilton Head Island, SC. March 2020.

“Transatlantic Recovery: How Margaret Fuller’s Lost History Teaches Us to Read.” American Literature Association Conference, Boston, MA. May 2019.

“Abolitionist Bodies in Charlotte Forten’s Sea Islands Journals and Atlantic Monthly Articles.” Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, Denver, CO. November 2018.

“‘To Mold in Clay and Carve in Stone’: Temporality and Literary Form in Margaret Fuller’s Italian Dispatches.” Transcendentalist Intersections: Literature, Philosophy, Religion, sponsored by the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, the Margaret Fuller Society, and the Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Heidelberg, Germany. July 2018.

“Margaret Fuller’s Abolitionist Borderlines and the Columns of the New-York Daily Tribune.” Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference. Bordeaux, France. July 2017.

“‘My Mere Narration’: Precarious Observation in Fanny Kemble’s Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation.” British Women Writers Conference. Athens, GA. June 2016.

“Newport, Still: Interiority and Temporality in Emma Lazarus’s Revisionist Elegy.” Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, Philadelphia, PA. November 2015.

“Margaret Fuller’s Illegibilities: Afterlives of an Unreadable, Unrecoverable Manuscript.” Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference. Atlanta, GA. April 2015.

“‘I think I should write a book about the Austrians’: Effie Ruskin’s Ambivalent Venetian Letters.” British Women Writers Conference, Boulder, CO. June 2012.

“‘A Strange, Strange Contrast’: Risorgimenti Hauntings in Vernon Lee’s Polite Stories.” British Women Writers Conference. Columbus, OH. April 2011.

“Remembering Rightly: Fictional Narrative in Henry James’s Italian Hours.” American Literature Association Fiction Symposium. Savannah, GA. October 2010.

“Rome, Concord, and The Art of ‘Momentary Circumstance.’” Nathaniel Hawthorne Society Summer Meeting. Concord, MA. June 2010.

“Heavenly Belongings, Earthly Belongings, and Felicia Hemans’s The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy.” British Women Writers Conference. College Station, TX. April 2010.

“Imagination Like Likeness: The Copyist Aesthetic in The Wings of the Dove.” American Literature Association Fiction Symposium. Savannah, GA. October 2009.

“Photographic Mourning: Amy Levy’s The Romance of the Shop and the Development of Feminine Subjectivity.” British Women Writers Conference. Iowa City, IA. April 2009.

Presentations for the English Graduate Organization Colloquium, April 2008, March 2009, and March 2010. Athens, GA.

 Selected Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Presentations  

with Rob Kilgore and Sarah Swofford. “Composing Lives: Integrating Public-Facing Work and Community Engagement.” Modern Language Association Conference, Seattle, WA. January 2020.

with Lauren Hoffer. “Connecting Local and Global Ways of Reading across Texts, Classrooms, and Communities.” Victorians Institute Conference, Charleston, SC. November 2019.

“Abolitionism in the Sea Islands: Teaching Reform Literature Locally and Transatlantically.” College English Association Conference. Hilton Head Island, SC. April 2017.

with Lauren Hoffer, Ellen Malphrus, and Erin McCoy. “The Show: How ETLS Develops Departmental Programming to Support Recruitment and Retention.” Chancellor’s Retention Symposium. USCB. February 2017.

“Teaching Revision and Remediation with Audio Essays.” Student Success in Writing Conference. Savannah, GA. March 2016.