• Carolyn Vellenga Berman

    Associate Professor of Literature


    In my teaching and research, I examine the power of literature as well as its deployment in social and political reform movements.  My writing focuses on Victorian authors, French travelers, and American sentimental fiction as well as contemporary fiction, Victorian psychology, slave narratives, and the performance of race and gender (both onstage and off).

    My current book project, entitled “Representing the People: Dickens and Democracy in the Paper Age,” explores the interplay between efforts to depict, solicit, and advocate for "the people" in the Victorian novel and the Victorian parliament, with an emphasis on Charles Dickens and the parliamentary publications of his time.

    Courses Taught:

    • History of the English Novel
    • Dickens and Crime
    • 18th Century British Fiction
    • American Literature and the Abolition of Slavery
    • Victorian Literature
    • Dickens and the Law
    • The Brontës
    • The Fairy Tale and Literature
    • Confessional Writing: Fiction and Autobiography

    Degrees Held:

    Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Brown University, 2000
    M.A., Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, 1993
    B.A., College of Letters, Wesleyan University, 1990

    Professional Affiliations:

    • Modern Language Association
    • North American Victorian Studies Association
    • Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Contexts
    • Society for Novel Studies

    Recent Publications:

    Creole Crossings: Domestic Fiction and the Reform of Colonial Slavery. (Cornell University Press, 2006)

    This book provides a critical cultural history of the figure of the Creole woman in nineteenth-century British, French, and American fiction, as well as in anti-slavery discourse of the period. It focuses on domestic novels including Belinda, Indiana, and Jane Eyre, as well as anti-slavery bestsellers like Paul and Virginia and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Illuminating a literary genealogy that crosses political, familial, and linguistic lines, it establishes the crucial importance of the Creole character as a marker of sexual norms and national belonging. In so doing, it shows how the campaign to reform slavery in the colonies converged with literary depictions of family life.   

    “Snoring for the Million: Pickwick and the Parliamentary Papers.”  Nineteenth-Century Contexts: An Interdisciplinary Journal 40.5 (Fall 2018): 1-21. 

    Review of Daniel B. Rood, The Reinvention of Atlantic Slavery: Technology, Labor, Race, and Capitalism in the Greater Caribbean (New York: Oxford UP, 2017), Victorian Studies 60.3 (Spring 2018): 510-511.  

    “Frantz Fanon.”  Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography.  Ed. Franklin Knight and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.  9 pages.   

    “Creole Emancipation:  Indiana and French Colonial Slavery.”  Approaches to Teaching Sand’s Indiana.  Ed. David A. Powell and Pratima Prasad.  New York: Modern Language Association, 2015.  26-33.   

    "Reform in Literature."  The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature.  Ed. Dino Franco Felluga, Pamela Gilbert, and Linda K. Hughes.  Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.  

     “On the Reform Act of 1832.”  BRANCH:  Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History.  Ed. Dino Franco Felluga.  Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net.  2013.  

    Review of Marie-Françoise Bosquet and Chantale Meure, Ed., Le Féminin en Orient et en Occident, du Moyen Âge à nos jours: Mythes et réalités (Saint-Étienne: Publications de l’Université de Saint-Étienne, 2011), Eighteenth-Century Fiction 26.1 (October 2013): 156-158.

    Review essay on Andrew S. Curran, The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment (Johns Hopkins UP, 2011), H-France Forum 7.4 (Fall 2012): 29-33. 

    “Créoles de l’île de France: L’éducation sentimentale de Paul et Virginie.” Bernardin de Saint-Pierre et l’océan indien. Ed. Jean-Michel Racault, Chantale Meure, and Angélique Gigan. Paris: Garnier, 2011.

    “‘Awful Unknown Quantities’: Addressing the Readers in Hard Times.” Victorian Literature and Culture 37.2 (September 2009): 561-82.

    The Known World in World Literature: Bakhtin, Glissant, and Edward P. Jones.” Theories of the Novel Now, Part 1. Ed. Nancy Armstrong. Spec. issue of Novel: A Forum on Fiction 42.2 (Summer 2009): 231-38.

    Review essay on Christopher Miller, The French Atlantic Triangle:  Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade (Duke UP, 2008), H-France Forum 3.3 (Summer 2008): 62-66.    

    “Impersonating the Creole: The American Family and its Lines of Flight.” Just Below South: Intercultural Performances in the Caribbean and the Southern United States. Edited by Jessica Adams, Michael P. Bibler, and Cécile Accilien. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007. 25-48.

    Performances And Appearances:

    Recent Presentations/Exhibits:

    • “Snoring for the Million: Pickwick and the Parliamentary Papers." Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference, March 2018.
    • “Decomposing Forms in Our Mutual Friend.”  British Victorian Studies Association Conference, August 2017. 
    • “Anti-Social Behaviour in Oliver Twist.”  North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, November 2016. 
    • "Little Dorrit's 'Lock of This World.'"  Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference, April 2015. 
    • “Testimony:  Hearing Voices in Parliamentary Publications.”  North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, October 2013.
    • Bleak House and the Mirror of Parliament.”  North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, September 2012. 
    • “Sensation after Emancipation: Slavery in All the Year Round.”  Research Society in Victorian Periodicals Conference, September 2012. 
    • “Victorian Twitter.”  Conference hosted by the Dickens Project on “Victorian Futures.”  University of California at Santa Cruz, July 2011. 
    • “The Moral Limits of Trade and the Petroleum Frontier.”  Panel on “The Oil Spill.”  Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School, October 2010.  (Posted on YouTube.)
    • “Créoles de l’île de France:  L’éducation sentimentale de Paul et Virginie.”  Bernardin de Saint-Pierre et l’Océan Indien, International Colloquium organized by Professor Jean-Michel Racault for the Centre de Recherches Littéraires et Historiques de l’océan Indien (CRLHOI), Université de la Réunion, Île de la Réunion, November-December 2009.  (Published on CD.)

    Research Interests:

    • Victorian Literature and Culture
    • History of the Novel
    • Gender Studies
    • Post/Colonial Studies
    • Transatlantic Literature
    • Slavery in Literature