Carolyn Vellenga Berman | The New School for Public Engagement
  • Faculty

    Carolyn Vellenga Berman

    Associate Professor of Literature

    PhD, Brown University, Comparative Literature

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    Carolyn Vellenga Berman is an Associate Professor of Literature in the Department of Humanities at the New School for Public Engagement where she teaches courses in the history of the novel, the fairy tale, and British, French, and American literature and culture. She is the author of Creole Crossings: Domestic Fiction and the Reform of Colonial Slavery. Her research concerns 18th and 19th century fiction as well as gender studies, post/colonial studies, and the history of the family. She has written broadly on sentimental novels, Victorian fiction, world literature, the history of psychology, and performance of race and gender.

    Her current book project, tentatively entitled "Representing the People: Dickens, Parliament, and the Popular Press," 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

    American Abolitionist Literature
    The Book of the World: Interpretation in Freud, Kafka, Benjamin, and Derrida
    Caribbean Literature
    Dickens and the Law
    The Fairy Tale and Literature
    Fiction, Culture, Criticism
    History of the Novel
    Jane Austen and the Romantic-Era Novel
    Masters of Narrative: Dickens, Balzac, Poe

    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. 

     “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 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. 

    Review of Carolyn Betensky, Feeling for the Poor: Bourgeois Compassion, Social Action, and the Victorian Novel (U of Virginia P, 2010), Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 57-59 (February-May 2010): n. pag.  2 pages.    

    “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.

    “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.

    “Creole Family Politics in Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 33.3 (Summer 2000): 328-52.

    “Undomesticating the Domestic Novel: Creole Madness in Jane Eyre.” Genre: Forms of Discourse and Culture 32.4 (Winter 1999): 267-296.

    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.    

    Research Interests

    History of the novel, Literature of the Atlantic world, Slavery in literature, Victorian literature and culture