Meg Dobbins

A photo of Meg Dobbins

Assistant Professor

English Language and Literature

612Q Pray-Harrold

mdobbin2@emich.edu

Education

  • Ph.D., English Literature, Washington University in St. Louis, (St. Louis, MO), 2015
  • MA, English Literature, Washington University in St. Louis, (St. Louis, MO), 2010
  • Graduate Certificate Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Washington University in St. Louis
  • BA, English Literature, Bard College, (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY), 2008

Biography

Current project: My current research project is a book-length manuscript titled Queer Accounts: Victorian Fiction and Economic Deviance. This project rearticulates what was once a well-established link between sexual and economic forms of difference in a capitalist society. In nineteenth-century Britain, the word “queer” was associated not only with emergent forms of same-sex desire, but with strange—and potentially fraudulent—forms of financial association and trust. While many Victorian novels rehearse a predictable economic plot that rewards a protagonist for his hard work and moderation, Queer Accounts decenters this narrative (the mythos economists would later reify as homo economicus or “Economic Man”) to recover a different Victorian story and economy: one characterized not by steady gains, but by the booms and busts of a high-risk financial economy. I begin by asking why popular literature of the era fixes so persistently on precarious economic figures outside the traditional family: servants, the nouveau rich, working class misers, single wealthy heiresses, non-reproductive widows, and businesswomen of color. Rather than reading these figures as anomalies who must be assimilated into dominant capitalist ethos, I show that they are vestiges of queer deviation who defy national ideals of economic self-interest and progress. George Eliot’s childless young widow heroines, for instance, use their economic independence to rescue other women from domestic violence and disrupt impoverishing patterns of patrilineal reproduction. During the Crimean War, the controversial Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole eschews an individualist entrepreneurial strategy in favor of “making friends” ; she succeeds by tendering the exploitative and invisible economic logics of post-slavery Britain into visible social patterns of exchange. Beyond the Victorian novel, my research asks how and in what genres we tell economic stories. To forge queerer, more inclusive paths of economic mobility, we need “queer accounts” : better economic narratives of the unpredictable interests, debts, and liabilities of capitalist life. Articles drawn from this project have been published in Victorian Literature and Culture and Nineteenth-Century Contexts.

Publications

  • “On Queer Street: Queer Masculinity and Financial Agents in Dickens,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Fall 2018
  • “‘What Did You Cut It Off For, Then?’ : Self-Harming Heroines in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, George
  • Eliot’s Mill on the Floss, and Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles,” Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, Spring 2017
  • “Jane Eyre’s Purse: Women’s Queer Economic Desire,” Victorian Literature and Culture, Fall 2016
  • Review: Daniel Bivona and Marlene Tromp’s Culture and Money in the Nineteenth Century Abstracting Economics, Victorian Review, Fall 2016
  • Review: Annie Ramel’s The Madder Stain: A Psychoanalytic Reading of Thomas Hardy, The Hardy Review, Fall 2016
  • Review: Christine L. Corton's London Fog: The Biography, The Common Reader, October 2016
  • Review: Roger Ebbatson’s Landscape and Literature 1830-1914, The Hardy Review, Fall 2015

Courses

  • LITR 101 Introduction to Fiction
  • ENGL 300W Writing About Literature
  • LITR 317 Victorian and Edwardian Literature
  • LITR 420 Studies in the British Novel
  • LITR 450 Major Authors - The Bronte Sisters
  • LITR 575/WGST492 Queer Victoria