Dr. Sarah Wadsworth

Sarah Wadsworth
Dr. Sarah WadsworthMarquette University

Marquette Hall, 115A/212

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-3479



When I applied to graduate school I didn’t know which subfield of English I would choose for my area of specialization. Contemporary British literature drew me, but so did early American literature. As a high school student, and then again in college, I had gone to England to study, and in my mid-twenties I went back there to work. England felt like my second home, more familiar to me than most of the United States.

A two-month road trip on my way to graduate school changed that. Traveling over the Rockies and through the Great Plains, down the Mississippi River Road, and across the Deep South, criss-crossing the States from the Okefenokee Swamp to Lake Itasca, I felt as though I were seeing this strange and beautiful country for the first time. As a scholar, I value the way literature, too, offers new ways of seeing and thinking about the world. As a teacher, I want my classes to open up new ways of “reading” the American experience, and the human experience, through literary texts.

My first book, In the Company of Books (2006), grew out of several years I spent working in the publishing business during my twenties. Trying to figure out which books to publish and how to get the right books into the right hands made me wonder how authors and publishers in nineteenth-century America dealt with similar challenges. In this book, I analyzed American fiction within the context of nineteenth-century publishing practices. In the Company of Books also gave me the opportunity to explore the growth of children’s literature, a subject I first taught more than a decade ago as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Carleton College and continue to teach regularly at Marquette.

My second book, Right Here I See My Own Books (January 2012), is coauthored by Wayne A. Wiegand, an eminent library historian and Professor Emeritus of Florida State University. The book revolves around the World's Columbian Exposition (the 1893 Chicago World's Fair) and a landmark collection of women's writing that was displayed there. By donating royalties to the fledgling National Women’s History Museum, Professor Wiegand and I hope to emphasize the continuity between this late nineteenth-century cultural watershed and the current, ongoing effort, more than a century later, to establish a permanent museum of women’s history in Washington, DC.

My works-in-progress range across the centuries and overseas, from the eighteenth-century Atlantic World to Henry James’s Rome. Together with Marija Dalbello, Associate Professor of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University, I am also planning a coedited collection that will explore the contributions of the twenty-one foreign countries that helped create the Woman’s Building Library at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Courses Taught

  • Foundations in Rhetoric
  • Literature, History, and Culture
  • Texts, Social Systems, and Values
  • Individual Authors (Hawthorne, Melville, Mark Twain)
  • Studies in Genre
  • Children’s Literature
  • Literature and Culture (American History and the Novel)
  • US Literature from 1789 to 1865
  • US Literature from 1865 to 1914
  • Literary Criticism
  • Capstone
  • Studies in American Literature from the Beginnings to 1900

Research Interests

  • 18th- and 19th-century American Literature
  • History of the Book
  • Literature and "place" (regionalism, travel, borderlands, migration)
  • Intersections between American history and literature
  • Gender and reading
  • Children's Literature


  • "Approaching The Blithedale Romance through the History of the Book.” Nathaniel Hawthorne in the College Classroom. Ed. Christopher Diller and Sam Coale. Brooklyn, NY: AMS Press, 2017. Rpt. Edward Everett Root, 2018. Pg. 37-50.
  • Review of The Europeans. Cambridge Edition of the Complete Fiction of Henry James. Ed. Susan M. Griffin (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015). Review of English Studies 67 (April 2016).
  • Review of The Ambassadors. Ed. Nicola Bradbury. Cambridge Edition of the Complete Works of Henry James. Review of English Studies 68 (2016)
  • “Unsettling Engagements in Moods and Little Women, or Learning to Love Louisa May Alcott.” Critical Insights: Little Women. Eds. Anne K. Philips and Gregory Eiselein. Ipswich, MA: Grey House Publishing / Salem Press, 2015. 174-88.
  • “The Year of the Child: Children’s Literature, Childhood Studies, and the Turn to Childism.” Essay-Review of Anna Mae Duane, The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities; Jodi Eichler-Levine, Suffer the Little Children: Uses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children’s Literature; Gary D. Schmidt, Making Americans: Children’s Literature from 1930 to 1960. American Literary History 27.2(Summer 2015): 331-41.
  • Review of Francesca Sawaya, The Difficult Art of Giving: Patronage, Philanthropy, and the American Literary Market. Journal of American History 102 (Sept. 2015).
  • "‘When the Cup Has Been Drained’: Addiction and Recovery in The Wind and the Willows.” Children’s Literature: Annual of the Children’s Literature Association and the Modern Language Association Division on Children’s Literature 42 (2014): 42-70.
  • “‘Lifted Moments’: Emily Dickinson, Hymn Revision, and the Revival Music Meme-Plex.” The Emily Dickinson Journal 23 (Spring 2014): 46-74.
  • Mr. Penrose: The Journal of Penrose, Seaman. Williams, William (author), Dickason, David Howard (Editor) and Wadsworth, Sarah (Afterword). Indiana Press, 2013.
  • “‘no world’ by Kara Walker.” Re-Seeing the Permanent Collection, Haggerty Museum of Art, 2013.
  • Right Here I See My Own Books: The Woman's Building Library at the World's Columbian Exposition. Coauthored with Wayne A. Wiegand. Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.
  • “Canonicity and the American Public Library: The Case of American Women Writers.” Windows on the World—Analyzing Main Street Public Library Collections. Special volume edited by Wayne A. Wiegand. Library Trends 60.3 (Spring 2012). 706-28.
  • Woman’s Building Library Database. Relational database of U.S. texts in the library of the Woman’s Building, World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Published on ePublications@Marquette, 2011.
  • “Refusing to Write like Henry James: Women Reforming Realism in Fin de SiècleAmerica.” European Journal of American Studies [Online] 2 (2011).
  • “‘By Invitation Only’: The American Library Association and the Women’s Library of the World’s Columbian Exposition.” Co-authored (equitable) with Wayne A. Wiegand. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 35-3 (Spring 2010): 699-722.
  • “Henry James Rides Again.” The Henry James Review 31.1 (Fall 2010): 218-31.
  • “The Europeans.” A Critical Companion to Henry James. Ed. Eric Haralson and Kendall Johnson. New York: Facts on File-Clearmark Books (2009), 74-82.
  • “What Daisy Knew: Reading Against Type in Daisy Miller: A Study.” A Companion to Henry James. Ed. Greg W. Zacharias. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008. 32-50.
  • “Social Reading, Social Work, and the Social Function of Literacy in Louisa May Alcott’s ‘May Flowers.’” Short Story Criticism 98 (May 2007; rpt. Cengage Learning, 2012). Ed. Jelena Krstovic. Gale Group. [Rpt. of chapter in Reading Women: Literary Figures and Cultural Icons from the Victorian Age to the Present. Ed. Janet Badia and Jennifer Phegley. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.]
  • In the Company of Books: Literature and Its "Classes" in Nineteenth-Century America. Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.
  • Ed., Libraries & Culture 41.1 (Winter 2006). Special volume on the Woman’s Building Library of the World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • “Louisa May Alcott, William T. Adams, and the Rise of Gender-Specific Series Books.”The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children’s Literature 25.1 (January 2001): 17–46.
  • “William Williams.” American National Biography. Ed. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. Volume 23. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. 512–13.
  • “Charles Knight and Sir Francis Bond Head: Two Early Victorian Perspectives on Printing and the Allied Trades.” Victorian Periodicals Review 31.4 (Winter 1998): 369–86.
  • “The Making (and Remaking) of the Penny Magazine: An Electronic Edition of Charles Knight’s ‘The Commercial History of a Penny Magazine.’” Gutenberg Jahrbuch 1997(Gutenberg Institute–University of Mainz, 1997). Co-authored (equitable) with Laura K. Dickinson. 289–97.
  • “Revising Lives: Bernard Shaw and His Biographer.” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 17.4 (Fall 1994): 339–66.

Honors and Awards

  • 2016 Way-Klingler Teaching Enhancement Grant
  • NEH grant (in collaboration with Susan Hopwood and Angela Sorby) from the American Library Association for an outreach project titled Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women. 2011.
  • Reese Fellowship in American Bibliography and the History of the Book in the Americas, Bibliographical Society of America, 2010.
  • Faculty Development Grants, Marquette University, 2008, 2011.

  • Summer Faculty Fellowships, Marquette University, 2004, 2005.
  • Finalist, Society of Fellows Junior Fellowship, Harvard University
  • American Fellowship (Summer / Short-Term Research Publication Grant), American Association of University Women, 2002, 2003
  • Carnegie-Whitney Award (with Wayne Wiegand), American Library Association, 2002
  • Leon Edel Prize, The Henry James Review, 2001
  • Houghton Mifflin Fellowship in Publishing History, Houghton Library, Harvard University, 2000, 2001

Additional Information

Office Hours

Spring 2020

  • TuTh 10:30-11:30, 3:30-4:00

Teaching Schedule

Spring 2020

  • 4715/101 TuTh 2:00-3:15 Cudahy Hall 143
    • Children's Literature
  • 4715/102 TuTh 12:30-1:45 Cudahy Hall 118
    • Children's Literature

Faculty & Staff Directory


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(414) 288-7179

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