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Jennifer J. Baker

Associate Professor of English

Ph.D. 2000 (English), University of Pennsylvania

Office Address: 

244 Greene Street, room 705 New York, NY 10003

Office Hours: 

Tuesday - Thursday 11:30am - 12:30pm (and by appointment)

Areas of Research/Interest: 

18th- and 19th-century American literature, culture, and intellectual history

External Affiliations:

Board Member, Melville Society Cultural Project


Jennifer Baker specializes in American literature, culture, and intellectual history, with particular interest in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writing. Her first book, Securing the Commonwealth: Debt, Speculation, and Writing in the Making of Early America (Johns Hopkins 2005), examined the impact of financial developments, particularly the advent of public debt and paper money, on eighteenth-century American writing. Her other published work on early American literature includes essays on Benjamin Franklin, Cotton Mather, Judith Sargent Murray, and Revolutionary-era women writers, as well as a co-edited special issue of Early American Literature on “Economics and Early American Literature.” She is currently at work on a study of American Romanticism and the life sciences. This book examines how new thinking about organic form and biodiversity shaped the American assimilation of European Romantic ideas in the middle decades of the nineteenth century; in addition to offering new readings of works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe, and Emily Dickinson, this book reconsiders American Romanticism as a category of literary practice. Published and forthcoming work on nineteenth-century literature includes essays on Emerson and embryology, Moby-Dick and zoology, Benito Cereno and theater, and Hawthorne's Civil War-era writings. She serves on the Melville Society Cultural Project, which organizes archival research, visiting fellowships, programming, and lectures at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. At NYU, she teaches classes on American literature, transatlantic Romanticism, literature and science, and a general humanities course on "Humans and the Natural World."


Faculty Fellowship, New York University Center for the Humanities, 2014-15; Heyman Prize for outstanding publication by junior faculty member in the humanities, Yale University, 2004; Morse Fellowship, Yale University, 2005; Barra Postdoctoral Fellowship, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 2001 (declined); Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, 1997-98; Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Research Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 1996.

"Emerson, Embryology, and Culture." J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 3:1 (Spring 2015).

"Science and Technology." Ralph Waldo Emerson in Context. Wesley T. Mott, ed.(Cambridge University Press, 2013).

"Women's Writing of the Revolutionary Era." Cambridge History of American Women's Literature. Dale M. Bauer, ed. (Cambridge University Press 2012).

"Dead Bones and Honest Wonders: The Aesthetics of Natural Science in Moby Dick." Melville and Aesthetics. Geoffrey Sanborn and Samuel Otter, eds. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

"Economic Criticism as Feminist Intervention." Early American Literature 44:3 (Fall 2009).

"Natural Science and the Romanticisms." ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 53: 4 (2007).

"Judith Sargent Murray's Medium Between Calculation and Feeling." Feminist Interventions in Early American Studies. Mary Carruth, ed. (Birmingham: Univ. of Alabama Press, 2006).

"Economics and Early American Literature." A Special Issue of Early American Literature 41:3 (Fall 2006). Co-edited with Eric Wertheimer.

"Paper Money Gets Personal." Common-place 6:3 (April 2006).

"The Making of John James Audubon." The William and Mary Quarterly 62:4 (January 2006).

Securing the Commonwealth: Debt, Speculation, and Writing in the Making of Early America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005 [cloth] and 2008 [paper]).

"Staging Revolution in Melville’s 'Benito Cereno': Babo, Figaro and the 'Play of the Barber.'" Prospects 26 (2001).

"'It is uncertain where the Fates will carry me': Cotton Mather's Theology of Finance." Arizona Quarterly 56:4 (Winter 2000).

"Benjamin Franklin and the Credibility of Personality." Early American Literature 35:3 (Fall 2000).

Updated on 02/13/2017