Q&A: Cynthia Patterson

Cynthia PattersonCynthia Patterson is an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida, and the Undergraduate Program Director for the English department. She co-edits the journal American Periodicals. Her first book, Art for the Middle Classes: America’s Illustrated Magazines of the 1840s (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010), won sole “Honorable Mention” in the Research Society for American Periodicals/EBSCOhost 2011 Book Prize contest. Research presented at the 2010 NCSA conference resulted in a 2014 article published in the Journal of American Studies, “Performative Morality: Godey’ s Match Plates, Nineteenth-Century Stage Practice, and Social/Political/ Economic Commentary in America’s Popular Ladies’ Magazine” (48.2, 613-637). Research presented at the 2012 NCSA conference resulted in a forthcoming article to be published in Southern Quarterly, “The Caroline Howard Gilman We Don’t Know: Recuperating Gilman’s Work for the Charleston Unitarian Sewing Society” (52.2, 150-171). Recently, her research interests have shifted to the reading habits of Florida women during the Progressive Era, as chronicled in the records of their literary clubs and mental improvement societies. She has presented one conference paper on this new research, and has several others in the works.

What was the last book you read? Elizabeth McHenry, Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002). As I work on this new project on the reading habits of Florida women during the Progressive Era, I’m struck by how little work has been done on Florida women in general, their literary societies in particular, and especially difficult to reconstruct are the reading practices of African-American women in this era of Jim Crow laws that hugely impacted the ability of women to associate, certainly in the state of Florida.

If you could go back to the nineteenth century to change one thing, what would it be? I would want to change the archiving practices of major institutions and universities: so much women’s history, especially in the south, and especially of non-white, non-elite women, has been lost because archivists thought their activities of little importance in chronicling the history of America. I recently sat down with a lovely lady who will soon turn 102, and she knew Mary McLeod Bethune back in the day when Bethune was rallying Florida’s black women to the importance of their club work. What an inspiration! But the generation of women involved in the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, at least in the state of Florida, is dying off – what will happen to their records and to their previous memories when they’re gone? I’m kept up at night thinking about that!

What historical figure would you love to see in the 21st century? Well, I don’t know about “historical figure,” but if we can say “literary figure,” I’ve always wanted to meet Elizabeth Oakes Smith: she took to the Lyceum stage to speak out for women’s rights at a time when it was considered unladylike for a genteel woman writer to do so. Sarah Josepha Hale and others shunned her as a result. But in her day, she was well known and well-respected. In later life, she served as a minister at The Independent Church in Canestota, New York.

Who was your favorite professor in graduate school and why? I studied with Larry Levine, Roy Rosenzweig, and Mike O’Malley at George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. But my favorite professor would have to be my mentor, Barbara Melosh. She went the “extra mile” for me, and as a 48-year old newly-minted Ph.D. with three previous careers under my belt, just entering the academic job market, and competing with much younger candidates, I felt I needed all the help she could provide. And provide it she did! She was everything a mentor should be and then some. She’s now retired from academia and a Lutheran minister. Do you see a pattern here in women writers-turned ministers? If I live long enough, I’d like my final career to be as a Unitarian Universalist minister.

What’s your favorite literary film adaptation? Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet: I never tire of teaching it because the play comes alive for students once they’ve seen the Branagh film. My colleague, Dr. Marty Gould, hosted a recent NEH workshop on adaptations, which I believe Cameron Dodworth mentioned in his recent profile

Is there anything from the nineteen century you wished would come back into fashion? H-m-m: the one thing that actually HAS come back into fashion is “craft cocktails.” I recently toured the St. Augustine Florida distillery, set up in the city’s old “ice house,” and the dedication of the distillers to producing classic distilled beverages and cocktails from recipes originating in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is a trend I’ve seen as I visited upscale bars in other cities around the country. It’s a trend I welcome!


Do you have a monograph, edited collection, or scholarly article that will be soon or was published within the last year? Are you the recipient of a grant that has not long ago or will soon reach one of its project milestones?  Have you recently won an award related to your scholarly or pedagogical work in the nineteenth century?

If so, we want to hear from you!

Please send one or two sentences describing your accomplishment to Kate Oestreich at koestrei@coastal.edu, and we will be back in touch regarding when you will be featured on 19 cents.

Q&A: Cameron Dodworth

Cameron Dodworth HeadshotCameron Dodworth currently teaches at Spring Hill College, the University of South Alabama, and the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science. However, he recently accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of nineteenth-century British literature at Methodist University, beginning in the fall. Cameron has two articles coming out later this spring, “The Strokes of Brush and Blade: How Basil Hallward Executed Dorian Gray in the Style of Naturalism” in Studies in Gothic Fiction and “Haunted Tomes, Haunted Canvases: Supernatural Realism in Nineteenth-Century Novels and Paintings” in Supernatural Studies. He has also had articles published in Brontë Studies and the Victorians Institute Journal Digital Annex.  His research interests include Gothicism, nineteenth-century literature and art (particularly Realism, Impressionism, and Naturalism), women’s studies, adaptation studies, and food in literature. Cameron has worked professionally as a line cook, prep cook, and banquet cook since the 1990s, and it is the topic of food in literature on which he will be presenting at this year’s NCSA Conference in Boston.

If you could go back to the nineteenth century to change one thing, what would it be? Well, assuming that single-handedly enfranchising women would likely have been a bit too tall of a task, I would probably go for something smaller, like nipping the nineteenth-century aspic fad in the bud. How anyone found gelatinous meat dishes even remotely appetizing is beyond me.

What historical figure would you love to see in 21st-century life? I would actually love to see Vincent van Gogh live and work in the world of 21st-century art. I would think that he would thrive in today’s art culture. I would hope that he would have been a much happier and less angst-ridden person, and I would assume that his work would have been much more appreciated in its time. Also, with modern developments in plastic surgery and facial reconstruction, maybe people would finally be able to get over the ear mutilation thing.

Who was your favorite professor in graduate school and why? Dr. Laura White at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She would eventually become my dissertation adviser, and I very much appreciated her honest and even sometimes rather blunt criticism of my writing, even though it might not always have been what I wanted to hear. Even earlier, when I was a Master’s student, I appreciated the advice that she gave me, and enjoyed those rare departmental and conference social occasions when we could talk a bit over a couple glasses of wine. And really, I think that I eventually put the poor woman through a gauntlet of annoyance with my sporadic dissertation writing. Sorry, Laura!

What’s your favorite literary film adaptation? In order to answer this question, I have to give a little background. This past summer, I was chosen to participate in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar in Santa Cruz, CA, focused on teaching Charles Dickens through adaptation. One of the two main originary Dickens texts that we explored during the seminar was my favorite book, A Christmas Carol. So, even though my answer might seem lame by giving multiple answers, they are all, as we discussed in the seminar, adaptations of A Christmas Carol, and are also great films: It’s a Wonderful Life, Groundhog Day, and The Muppet Christmas Carol. And I have to give a shout-out to the director of the seminar, Dr. Marty Gould of the University of South Florida, and thank him for turning me on to adaptation studies. It really was a fantastic seminar.

Is there anything from the nineteen century you wished would come back into fashion? Aspics. So that more people would know what I’m talking about when I make fun of them.


Do you have a monograph, edited collection, or scholarly article that will be soon or was published within the last year? Are you the recipient of a grant that has not long ago or will soon reach one of its project milestones?  Have you recently won an award related to your scholarly or pedagogical work in the nineteenth century?

If so, we want to hear from you!

Please send one or two sentences describing your accomplishment to Kate Oestreich at koestrei@coastal.edu, and we will be back in touch regarding when you will be featured on 19 cents.

Q&A: Kate Faber Oestreich

Oestreich HeadshotKate Faber Oestreich is Assistant Professor of Literature, Writing, and New Media at Coastal Carolina University. In the past year, Kate’s article “Sue’s Desires: Sexuality and Reform Fashion in Jude the Obscure” was published in the Victorians Institute Journal. Her scholarship and scholarly reviews have also appeared in The CEA Critic, ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, Nineteenth Century Gender Studies, and the edited collection Straight Writ Queer: Non-normative Expressions of Heterosexual Desire in Literature. Oestreich serves on NCSA’s website committee and is an Executive Board committee member of the Athenaeum Press. She is currently finishing an article exploring digital mediations of the paratextual photographs within Virginia’s Woolf’s Orlando, a portion of which will shared during her talk at this year’s NCSA conference in Boston.

Which country / decade of the nineteenth century would you like to live in if you could go back in time? Absolutely England, 1885-95. Some women were still wearing bustles and corsets, others Liberty dresses; the British Arts and Crafts Movement was flourishing; the Fabian Society and Marxist Social Democratic Federation were trying to revamp marriage; the first three volumes of the OED were published; and Hardy and Wilde were writing.

What historical figure would you love to see in 21st century life? Around the age of seven, I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder, and tore through the entire series. One of my earliest memories is dreaming up Laura’s reactions to late 20th-century technology, which I still think would be fascinating to observe.

Who was your favorite professor in graduate school and why? Marlene Longenecker, Ohio State University. She was generous, erudite, observant, and wickedly funny. To hear her read aloud lifted one’s soul. And her own writing—even paper comments, graduate reports, Facebook posts, and emails—was virtually an art form. She lost her battle with leukemia two months ago, and the world will not be the same.

Is there anything from the nineteen century you wished would come back into fashion? The clothing in general. I recognize this desire as illogical for many reasons, but those dresses and suits have always appealed to me on an aesthetic level.


Do you have a monograph, edited collection, or scholarly article that will be soon or was published within the last year? Are you the recipient of a grant that has not long ago or will soon reach one of its project milestones?  Have you recently won an award related to your scholarly or pedagogical work in the nineteenth century?

If so, we want to hear from you!

Please send one or two sentences describing your accomplishment to Kate Oestreich at koestrei@coastal.edu, and we will be back in touch regarding when you will be featured on 19 cents.

New 19 cents Feature: Q&A Profiles

A few weeks ago, we here at 19 cents posted a request to the NCSA listserv, asking subscribers for information on their most recent scholarly and pedagogical accomplishments.

And we discovered that NCSA members are a busy and productive group!

19 cents will feature one of these scholars per week, posting a rotation of scholar’s recent accomplishments, plus their answers to a handful of questions. These short Q&A pieces are meant to personalize ourselves to each other, promoting interpersonal connections that may be followed through on in real life when we gather at NCSA’s and other conferences throughout the year. We will start posting profiles within the week, so keep checking back for updates.

And if you have a monograph, edited collection, or scholarly article that will be soon or was published within the last year; if you are the recipient of a grant that has not long ago or will soon reach one of its project milestones; if you have recently won an award related to your scholarly or pedagogical work in the nineteenth century: We want to hear from you!

Please send one or two sentences describing your accomplishment to Kate Oestreich at koestrei@coastal.edu, and we will be back in touch regarding when you will be featured on 19 cents.