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JEAN FERNANDEZ

Areas of Interest: Victorian Fiction and Autobiography, Empire Studies, Narratology, Women’s Writing, and Literary Theory


Contact Information
Email: jfernand@umbc.edu
Office: PAHB 410
Office Number: 410-455-2166


Biography


Jean Fernandez, Associate Professor of English and Department Chair, received her PhD from the University of Iowa, where she was a Seashore Dissertation Fellow and a Freda Dixon Malone scholar.

Her most recent book, Geography and the Literary Imagination in Victorian Fictions of Empire: The Poetics of Imperial Space ( Routledge, 2020) explores how the rise of institutional geography in Victorian England impacted the treatment of space and place in fictions of empire. The study engages with late Victorian fiction by R.L.Stevenson, Olive Schreiner, Joseph Conrad, Winwood Reade, Flora Annie Steel, and Rudyard Kipling.
Her first book, Victorian Servants, Class and the Politics of Literacy ( Routledge 2009) examined nineteenth-century literacy wars in the context of domesticity by exploring Victorian cultural discourses on servant literacy and its impact on narrational politics in fiction by Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine Crowe, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell,William Wilkie Collins, R.L. Stevenson, and servant autobiography.
Her work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear, in LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, Victorian Poetry, Victorian Literature and Culture, New Hibernia Review, The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature,  Victorian Review, The Gaskell Journal, and Nineteenth Century Gender Studies. 

Books


Geography and the Literary Imagination in Victorian Fictions of Empire: The Poetics of Imperial Space
Routledge, 2020

In this pioneering study, Dr. Fernandez explores how the rise of institutional geography in Victorian England impacted imperial fiction’s emergence as a genre characterized by a preoccupation with space and place. This volume argues that the alliance between institutional geography and the British empire which commenced with the founding of the Royal Geographical Society in 1830, shaped the spatial imagination of Victorians, with profound consequences for the novel of empire. Geography and the Literary Imagination in Victorian Fictions of Empire examines Presidential Addresses and reports of the Royal Geographical Society, and demonstrates how geographical studies by explorers, cartographers, ethnologists, medical topographers, administrators, and missionaries published by the RGS, local geographical societies, or the colonial state, acquired relevance for Victorian fiction’s response to the British Empire. Through a series of illuminating readings of literary works by R.L. Stevenson, Olive Schreiner, Flora Annie Steel, Winwood Reade, Joseph Conrad, and Rudyard Kipling, the study demonstrates how nineteenth-century fiction, published between 1870 and 1901, reflected and interrogated geographical discourses of the time. The study makes the case for the significance of physical and human geography for literary studies, and the unique historical and aesthetic insights gained through this approach.

Victorian Servants, Class, and the Politics of Literacy
Routledge, 2009

In this volume, Fernandez brings the under-examined figure of the Victorian servant out of obscurity in order to tell the story of his or her encounter with literacy, as imagined and represented in nineteenth-century fiction, autobiography, pamphlets and diaries. The study reads canonical fiction by Mary Wollstonecraft, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, and R.L. Stevenson alongside popular detective fiction by Catherine Crowe, the diaries of Hannah Cullwick, and best-selling pamphlets of the age.