Ph.D. 2000 (English), University of Pennsylvania
Office Hours: ON LEAVE FOR FALL 2014; By Appointment only
Jennifer Baker specializes in American literature and intellectual history, with particular interest in colonial, early national, and antebellum 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 theories 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 Emerson, Thoreau, Melville, Poe, and Dickinson, this book reconsiders American Romanticism as a category of literary practice. She also 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 serves as director of undergraduate studies in the English Department, and also teaches classes on American literature, transatlantic Romanticism, literature and science, and a general humanities course on "Humans and the Natural World."
Areas of Research/Interest
American literature; colonial, early national and antebellum literary and intellectual history; American Romanticism
Advisory Board, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance; Board Member, Melville Society Cultural Project
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.
"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).