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Maurice Sherwood Lee
Trustees of Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)
Chance, Skepticism, and Belief in American Literature, 1820-1870

This book project shows how changing conceptions of chance shape literary encounters with skepticism in the writings of Poe, Thoreau, Douglass, Melville, and Dickinson. By reading their texts in relation to mid-nineteenth-century scientific and popular constructions of chance, I hope to make four contributions to American literary and cultural studies: 1) recover chance as an epistemological and aesthetic subject for major literary figures; 2) extend recent scholarship that sees science as a generative context for nineteenth-century literature; 3) explore how “high” theories of chance penetrate cultural practices; and 4) show how mid-nineteenth-century writers anticipate modern discussions of chance.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Literature

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2008 – 9/30/2008