Melissa Bailes, 2020–21

Romantic Botany: Time, Empire, and Ineffability in British Literature, 1750-1830

Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Fellowship, 2020-21

Associate Professor of English, Tulane University

Melissa Bailes

Melissa Bailes specializes in British literature of the long eighteenth century (1660-1830), the history of science, Enlightenment philosophy, transatlantic and transnational studies, and women’s writing. She has published on these topics in journals such as ELH, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Studies in Romanticism, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Eighteenth-Century Life, and European Romantic Review.

Her first book, Questioning Nature: British Women’s Scientific Writing and Literary Originality, 1750-1830 (University of Virginia Press), won the British Society for Literature and Science’s 2017 Book Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2017-19 First Book Prize by the British Association for Romantic Studies. She is currently completing her second book, tentatively titled, Romantic Botany: Time, Empire, and Ineffability in British Literature, 1750-1830, while also working on a related project, Nature’s Clockwork: The Natural History of Time in British Literature, 1759-1859.

Bailes has been awarded long-term fellowships from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, as well as short-term fellowships from organizations such as Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Linda Hall Library for Science, Engineering, and Technology, and the Chawton House Library in the UK.

Selected Publications

Questioning Nature

  • Bailes, Melissa. “Transformations of Gender and Race in Maria Riddell’s Transatlantic Biopolitics.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction 32, no. 1 (Fall 2019): 123-44.
  • Bailes, Melissa. Questioning Nature: British Women’s Scientific Writing and Literary Originality, 1750-1830. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017.
  • Bailes, Melissa. “Linnaeus’s Botanical Clocks: Chronobiological Mechanisms in the Scientific Poetry of Erasmus Darwin, Charlotte Smith, and Felicia Hemans.” Studies in Romanticism 56, no. 2 (Summer 2017): 223-52.
  • Bailes, Melissa. “Literary Plagiarism and Scientific Originality in the ‘Trans-Atlantic Wilderness’ of Goldsmith, Aikin, and Barbauld.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 49, no. 2 (Winter 2016): 265-79.
  • Bailes, Melissa. “The Psychologization of Geological Catastrophe in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man.” ELH: English Literary History 82, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 671-99.
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