Lauren Hoffer, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of English, Theater, and Interdisciplinary Studies
Associate Professor of Victorian Literature
My specialties are Victorian Literature and Culture, the British Novel, and Gender as well as Narrative studies. Whether working on my own research, discussing a text in class, or just chatting with students and colleagues in the hallway, I am always invested in the ways form, content, and context work together in a piece of literature to create meaning. One of my favorite parts of being a member of the USCB community is the opportunity to teach across my fields, as in my courses on 18th century literature, Romanticism, the Victorian Period, Modern British Literature, Women Writers, and Literary Theory. I love that I get to offer courses that engage my other interests as well, such as my Introduction to English Studies and Composition courses and my classes on Gothic or Fantasy Literature (offered alternatively each summer).
Another aspect I really appreciate about life at USCB is all the ways we in the Department of English and Theater engage students not only within but also outside of the traditional classroom. I especially enjoy my work as co-founder and co-instructor for the May River Review (ENGL 211-01), USCB's interdisciplinary undergraduate critical journal as well as my time as founder and sponsor of our chapter of International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta.
In my scholarship as in my teaching, I am particularly fascinated by representations of interpersonal relationships and the ways literature often blurs distinctions between different kinds of bonds, complicating our social and conventional expectations. For example, in the book manuscript I have been working on, I explore the literary and cultural significance of lady's companions' relationships to their mistresses and the ways nineteenth-century British authors used this employment bond that masquerades as friendship between women as a means of articulating their anxieties about manipulative, self-serving forms of sympathy. My latest research, also a book-length project, contends that remarriage in Victorian literature can be understood as a transformative force: a means of revising established systems, both social and narratological. I am thrilled to be currently serving as guest co-editor for a special issue of Victorian Review on the Brontë sisters in honor of Charlotte's bicentennial as well.
The Brontës and Critical Interventions in Victorian Studies. Special Issue Guest Ed. with Elizabeth Meadows. Victorian Review (Fall 2016). Forthcoming.
Rev. of Romance's Rival: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction, by Talia Schaffer. Studies in the Novel 48.3 (September 2016). Forthcoming.
"Unmanageable Sympathy in Wilkie Collins's Poor Miss Finch. Victorians: Journal of Culture and Literature 129 (March 2016): 80-97. Print.
with Sarah Kersh, "The Victorian Family in Queer Time: Secrets, Sisters, and Lovers in The Woman in White and Fingersmith." In Queer Victorian Families: Curious Relations in Literature. Ed. Duc Dau and Shale Preston. New York: Routledge, 2015. 195-210. Print.
Essay Review. "Reading for the Knowable and the Unknowable: Thinking, Feeling, and Learning in the Victorian Novel." Studies in the Novel 46.2 (Summer 2014). 254-260. Print.
"Employment Relations and the Failure of Sympathy in Hardy's Desperate Remedies and The Mayor of Casterbridge." Victorians Institute Journal 41 (2013).
"Lapdogs and Moral Shepherd's Dogs: Canine and Human Companions in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park." In The Psychology of the Human-Animal Bond. Ed. Chris Blazina, Güler Boyra, and David Shen-Miller. New York: Springer, 2011. 107-122. Print.
"'She brings everything to a grindstone': Sympathy and the Paid Female Companion's Critical Work in David Copperfield." Dickens Studies Annual 41 (2010): 191-213. Print.
"'Such a thing was never to be': Dickens's Refusal of Remarriage." North American Victorian Studies Association. Phoenix, AZ. November 2016.
"'She could do nothing but live through again all the past scenes': Reiterations of Death and Remarriage in Middlemarch." British Women Writers Conference. Athens, GA. June 2016.
"'Out of the common world to a lonely place': Remarriage as Radical Retreat in Jane Eyre." North American Victorian Studies Association. Honolulu, Hawaii. July 2015.
"Freedom in Isolation: Remarriage in the Brontës' Major Novels." British Women Writers Conference. New York City, NY. June 2015.
"Remarriage as Social Revision in Gaskell's Wives and Daughters" Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies. Atlanta, GA. April 2015.
"Murder and (Re)Marriage in Victorian Sensation Fiction." Victorians Institute Conference. Charlotte, NC. October 2014.
with Elizabeth Meadows, "From Reflection to Resemblance in the Work of the Brontës." British Women Writers Conference. Binghamton, NY. June 2014.
"Converging Networks: Remarriage and the Victorian Blended Family." North American Victorian Studies Association. Madison, WI. September 2012.
"The Lady's Companion, Sympathy, and Narrative Play in Collins's Poor Miss Finch." International Conference on Narrative. Las Vegas, NV. March 2012.
"The Lady's Companion and Domestic Life as Spectacle." North American Victorian Studies Association. Nashville, TN. November 2011.
"Performing Sympathy: The Paid Female Companion in Vanity Fair and David Copperfield." Nineteenth Century Studies Association. Tampa, FL. March 2010.
"'I was at work in your house as a detective': The Companion and the Secrets of the House in Lady Audley's Secret and Anne Hereford." Victorians Institute. The University of South Carolina, Columbia. October 2008.
"'They claim to be nothing else': The Collection and Presentation of Knowledge and Experience in Pickwick Papers." International Conference on Narrative. Washington, DC. March 2007.
"Revitalizing the System: Nostalgia, the Navy, and the Estate in Jane Austen's Persuasion." Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers Conference. University of Louisiana at Lafayette. April 2005.