Areas of Interest: Colonial/U.S. Literature to 1900, Periodical Publishing, African-American Literature, and Women’s Literary History
Office: PAHB 406
Office Number: 410-455-2585
Ph.D., Ohio State University
Lindsay DiCuirci is an assistant professor of English and affiliate faculty in Language, Literacy, and Culture at UMBC specializing in early American literature and the history of the book. Her book, Colonial Revivals: The Nineteenth-Century Lives of Early American Books (University of Pennsylvania Press, Material Texts Series, 2018) examines the politics of collecting, preserving, and reprinting colonial books and manuscripts in the nineteenth-century U.S. Her research on the ideological work of antiquarianism and early American archives has appeared in Early American Literature and in the edited collection, Urban Identity and the Atlantic World (Palgrave, 2013). She also co-edited a multi-volume primary source collection on the discourse of American Exceptionalism (Pickering & Chatto, 2012) and its manifestations in early American religious writings. Her work has received support from The American Antiquarian Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Dr. DiCuirci teaches courses in early American literature, African American literature, women’s literary history, and critical theory. She is the current director of the English Honors program at UMBC.
Colonial Revivals: The Nineteenth-Century Lives of Early American Books
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018
In the long nineteenth century, the specter of lost manuscripts loomed in the imagination of antiquarians, historians, and writers. Whether by war, fire, neglect, or the ravages of time itself, the colonial history of the United States was perceived as a vanishing record, its archive a hoard of materially unsound, temporally fragmented, politically fraught, and endangered documents.
Colonial Revivals traces the labors of a nineteenth-century cultural network of antiquarians, bibliophiles, amateur historians, and writers as they dug through the nation’s attics and private libraries to assemble early American archives. The collection of colonial materials they thought themselves to be rescuing from oblivion were often reprinted to stave off future loss and shore up a sense of national permanence. Yet this archive proved as disorderly and incongruous as the collection of young states themselves. Instead of revealing a shared origin story, historical reprints testified to the inveterate regional, racial, doctrinal, and political fault lines in the American historical landscape.
Even as old books embodied a receding past, historical reprints reflected the antebellum period’s most pressing ideological crises, from religious schisms to sectionalism to territorial expansion. Organized around four colonial regional cultures that loomed large in nineteenth-century literary history—Puritan New England, Cavalier Virginia, Quaker Pennsylvania, and the Spanish Caribbean—Colonial Revivals examines the reprinted works that enshrined these historical narratives in American archives and minds for decades to come. Revived through reprinting, the obscure texts of colonial history became new again, deployed as harbingers, models, reminders, and warnings to a nineteenth-century readership increasingly fixated on the uncertain future of the nation and its material past.