I am a literary critic specializing in British Romanticism (ca. 1770-1840) across genres, with particular interests in persuasion and rhetoric, cognition, epistemology, and literary theory. What unites these interests is the question of literature’s role in representing and eliciting new ethical and political sensibilities—a question that often involves consideration of the period’s emergent scientific psychology and revolutionary social and political movements, and always involves attention to the distinctive work of literary language, genre, and form.
At the University of Notre Dame, I am an Associate Professor of English and Notre Dame du Lac Collegiate Chair. I have held research fellowships at the National Humanities Center (USA) and Chawton House (England), as well as doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (the first at the University of Cambridge, where I obtained my MPhil and PhD; the second at York University, Toronto). I am a co-founder of the John Thelwall Society and serve as Reviews Co-Editor for the Keats-Shelley Journal.
Before pursuing graduate studies in English, I studied journalism and interned at Time, the Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic, and the Networks of Centres of Excellence (a research-funding initiative of the Canadian government). As a research assistant to the Canadian Senator Joan Fraser (Lib.), I also worked on a Senate study of the Canadian news media.
PERSUASION FOR THE MOMENT
A study of how British Romantic writers fundamentally re-conceived of the theory and practice of persuasion, notably by insisting on the ethical and aesthetic value of persuasions that are at best provisional. Focusing on major and neglected works of poetry, fiction, drama, and philosophy—by George Campbell, De Quincey, Hazlitt, Godwin, Wordsworth, the Shelleys, and Austen, among others—the book examines writers’ innovative ways of theorizing, representing, and enacting this distinctive sense of persuasion and makes a wider case for the concept’s importance to literary theory and criticism today.
A critical recovery of the 18th/19th-century democratic reformer and polymath John Thelwall that shows to what extent Romanticism’s belief in the imagination as an agent of social and cognitive change was bound up with the developing sciences of body and mind. Drawing on new archival discoveries, selections of which are reproduced in the appendix, the book connects the full range of Thelwall’s works—poetry, fiction, drama, criticism, oratory, political theory, speech therapy, and elocutionary treatises—with his heterodox contributions to Romantic science.
PERSUASION AFTER RHETORIC
Edited with Stefan H. Uhlig
Edited with Guillaume Ansart, Raphaël Ehrsam, and Catriona Seth
The bilingual, interdisciplinary proceedings of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) Early-Career Seminar 2012.
Edited with Michael Scrivener and Judith Thompson.
A modern edition of John Thelwall's lively 1801 fictional exploration of rights and revolution in Britain and Haiti, with contextual materials on the abolition and revolution debates.
ARTICLES AND CHAPTERS
“Emma and the ‘Chimera of Relativism.’” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 60.4 (2020).
“Mary Shelley’s Fascinations: The Last Man.” Modern Philology 114.3 (2017).
“Four Letters by Annabella and Lucy Byron.” Keats-Shelley Journal 65 (2016).
“Percy Shelley’s Revolutionary Periods.” English Literary History 83.4 (2016).
“‘A Plausible Tale’: William Godwin’s Things As They Are.” European Romantic Review 25.5 (2014).
“Mute Records and Blank Legends: John Thelwall’s ‘Paternal Tears.’ ” Romanticism 16.2 (2010).
"Rhetoric and Gender." The Cambridge History of Rhetoric. Vol. 4: Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries (1650-1900). Ed. Adam Potkay and Dietmar Till. Cambridge University Press, 2023.
“Prone Minds and Extended Selves: The Cenci.” Romanticism and Consciousness Revisited. Ed. Richard C. Sha and Joel Faflak. Edinburgh University Press, 2021.
“Rhetoric.” The Oxford Handbook of Romantic Prose. Ed. Robert Morrison. Oxford University Press, 2021.
“Poetic Liberties in the 1790s: John Thelwall and Some Contemporaries.” Enlightenment Liberties/Libertés des Lumières. Ed. Guillaume Ansart, Raphaël Ehrsam, Catriona Seth, and Yasmin Solomonescu. Éditions Honoré Champion, 2018.
“Articulations of Community in The Peripatetic.” John Thelwall: Radical Romantic and Acquitted Felon. Ed. Steve Poole. Pickering and Chatto, 2009
My courses at the University of Notre Dame include "Romantic Revolutions, 1790-1830"; "British Fiction, 1790-1830"; "Mad, Bad, and Dangerous: Lord Byron and Percy Shelley"; "Introduction to Literary Studies"; and "Literary Visions and Revisions." I am planning future courses on "No Frills Jane Austen" and "The Ethics of Reading."
I have offered graduate seminars in "Romanticism and Persuasion" and "British Romanticism and the Sciences of Life." I am currently designing a new seminar entitled "Returns of the Aesthetic." I also serve as Job Placement Director and run the practicum "Preparation for the Profession."
solomonescu dot 1 at nd dot edu