Archival Work

Door to The Carl H. Pfzorheimer Collection, New York Public Library, New York City. Photo by the author.

"The Disruptive Power of Frame Narratives in Mary Shelley's Keepsake Tales"

This article's argument relies on archival research on Mary Shelley's manuscripts at The Carl H. Pfzorheimer Collection of the New York Public Library. My week-long archival visit was generously funded by a Graduate Research Grant from the University of St. Thomas Department of English. Please note that at the time, the archive did not allow photographs.

Abstract: Thanks to the success of Frankenstein, scholars have begun to analyze one of Mary Shelley’s signature techniques, the frame narrative, within her other novels. However, scholarly discourse on the subject routinely leaves out one aspect of Shelley’s oeuvre that has received relatively little attention in general — her short stories for The Keepsake (1828-1857). In this essay, I propose that Shelley deliberately uses frame narratives in her short stories to both illuminate and deconstruct the structural, temporal and ideological constraints imposed upon her by publishing within the periodical space. Drawing on narratological and feminist readings of Shelley’s work, I illustrate how two of Shelley’s framed tales, “The Sisters of Albano” (1829) and “The Swiss Peasant” (1831), subtly call into question the “cult of beauty” and Romantic aestheticization of the “ordinary” within The Keepsake and other literary annuals. This argument thus fills a critical void in Shelley studies by properly contextualizing her tales within their own framing device, the literary annual itself.

"Materiality and the Sea: An Archival Exploration of The Sailor’s Magazine"

This short project examined the few and fragile copies of The Sailor's Magazine housed at the Independence Seaport Museum archive in Philadelphia.

Abstract: One of the first things to notice about The Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal is its fragility, which is seemingly at odds with its intended function. The Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal was initiated in 1828 by the American Seamen’s Friend Society (ASFS) as part of its project “to improve the social and moral condition of seamen, by united the efforts of the wise and good in their behalf” (“Records of the American Seamen’s Friend Society”) . My research finds that this desire to improve sailors' lives unfortunately fails to account for the magazines' material existence at sea. Though the magazine aims to “improve” the lives of ocean-bound individuals, its conceptual undertones remain stubbornly land-based, as evidenced by its flimsy material construction and cheap production. Thus, the relative weakness of the periodical’s materiality reflects the dominance of its land-based origin and primary promulgation.

1828 cover of The Sailor's Magazine & Naval Journal, Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA. Photo by the author.

"Liberating 'Daughters of Eve': Tracing Gender Stereotypes in Adaptations of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"

This project tracks the evolution of gender stereotypes across several adaptations of C.S. Lewis's classic children's novel. It involved conducting archival research on various texts, musical scores, and children's picture books at the British Library in London, UK.

Abstract: Bringing up C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in an academic setting means wading into a decades-old debate: whether Lewis was in fact a misogynist or simply a Christian apologist with hierarchical views of gender. One more paper on this topic isn’t likely to end the controversy, since its resolution depends as much on Lewis’s beliefs as your own. Instead, I wish to explore one area this debate has largely ignored, that of its influence on the many adaptations of the Chronicles in the last 65 years. Since Lewis first published The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950, second-wave feminism has "liberated" women from the domestic sphere and shaped contemporary society’s acceptance of women in traditionally “masculine” roles. The portrayals of Susan and Lucy Pevensie in visual adaptations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe follow this trend of so-called liberation, though even contemporary adaptations, especially those aimed at younger audiences, tend to slip into traditional gender stereotyping. Thus, the art of adaptation raises some interesting questions about the role of literature in shaping gender identities, the way in which audiences influence adapted works, and the nature of adaptation itself.

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Select images of various adaptations of C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950) taken by the author at the British Library in London, UK. Images include several children's picture books, a liberetto, and activity books for young fans of Disney's 2005 film adaptation.