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Stephanie Palmer

Senior Lecturer, School of Arts & Humanities, Nottingham Trent University

Dr Stephanie Palmer joined Nottingham Trent in 2009 as a Lecturer of 19th-century American literature and became Senior Lecturer in 2012. Dr Palmer researches regionalism, women’s writing, transatlanticism, and reception study. She helped develop the undergraduate American literature pathway and is currently serving as Subject Leader.

Dr Palmer received her PhD in English from the University of Michigan, and before joining NTU, Dr Palmer taught American literature and culture at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

Dr Palmer's work examines regionalism, women's writing and periodisation.

Dr Palmer's monograph, Together by Accident: American Local Color Literature and the Middle Class (Lexington Books, 2009), traces a motif of 'regional travel accident' through texts by Sarah Orne Jewett, Bret Harte, Rebecca Harding Davis, Thomas Detter, William Dean Howells, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps to show how writers scripted their contradictory relation to provincial places. The motif registers a class critique of the people most able to vacation and sightsee.

Contrary to some other readings of American regionalism, this work argues that male and female regionalists used similar motifs in their work and shared some of the same politics. This research, which emerged out of her PhD dissertation, also led to a separate article on how travel writers avoided disturbing references to travel hardship when writing about the United States in this period; the article features the British writer Emily Katharine Bates and was published in Studies in Travel Writing in 2010.

Currently Dr Palmer is studying the British reception of American women writers between the American Civil War and World War I, writers including Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Edith Wharton. As part of a SPUR (Scholarship Projects for Undergraduate Researchers) grant, she created a website along with Adam Wood and Marie Cheetham about this reception.

An article about the English Craze for Mary Wilkins [later Freeman] appeared in Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations in 2012, and a book chapter on British readings of Phelps appears in Transatlantic Conversations: Nineteenth-Century American Women's Encounters with Italy and the Atlantic World, ed. by Beth Lueck, Sirpa Salenius and Nancy Lusignan Schultz 2017.

Both the idea of ‘America’ and its literature are associated at home and abroad with masculinity in many guises: frontier violence, heroic individualism, sensational scandal-mongering prose, and public expressions of private selfhood that women cannot initiate without risk of being pilloried. By showing that Britons read American women avidly and read them as ‘women’ and ‘Americans,’ Palmer’s work challenges this dominant view of the U.S. and suggests it be replaced with an appreciation of ‘soft,’ ‘feminine’ power.

The writers discussed in the reception work are interesting for the way they generally outlived their original moment of production and innovated in new genres for new audiences. This is true of many nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, as the movements and genres with which scholars generally divide up these centuries are shorter in time-scale than most lives.

Dr Palmer is interested in reconceptualising the turn into the 20th Century in order to bring out the full complexity and perceptiveness of writers’ life work. She has published an essay on decadence in the late novel Confessions of a Wife (1902) by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps has heled establish an author’s society for Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, a writer who is generally categorised as a regionalist, but whose work ranges more broadly.

Dr Palmer can supervise research projects on American literature before 1920. She would especially welcome MPhil/PhD proposals related to regional writing, women's writing, transatlanticism, or reception study. Further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer, School of Arts & Humanities, Nottingham Trent University