Dr. Dawn Morgan Publishes Research on 18th Century Novel
Published: Monday, May 7, 2012
Dr. Dawn Morgan, Associate Professor of English, published her research on the eighteenth-century novel, the dominant genre of cultural authority in the later eighteenth century, “Productive Dislocations: The Anomalous Volume 7 of Tristram Shandy,” Lumen: Selected Proceedings from the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
Dr. Morgan describes Laurence Sterne’s eighteenth-century novel, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent., as a “chaotic parody of the realist novel that illustrates how novels work by turning established conventions of novelistic “realism” upside down and inside out. The implication is that much of what passes for “real” in realism is made up to fill in our gaps of perspective.” Morgan also says that “Sterne’s novel and his experience in becoming a novelist dramatizes the astonishing regenerative power of our fiction-making capacities as the very basis of innovative action and thought.”
“My article analyzes Volume 7, in which events take a dark turn. Volume 7 seems to represent not Tristram Shandy’s life, or that of any fictional character, but the historical author’s fear of the ending of his own story — in death. Sterne suffered from consumption while writing, and died of what we now call tuberculosis soon after the novel was finished. I began researching this article, and wanted to enter the scholarly conversation about it, because I needed to work out for myself how and why this dark chapter might be considered essential to the novel. The time I spent in close reading and examining Sterne scholarship produced this article, my own contribution, which will help me, most immediately, to assist students in reading Volume 7’s apparent departure from the novel’s main concerns and satirical operations.”
Dr. Morgan has recently published articles on the intersection of early modern natural philosophy and novelistic prose in works by the physician Walter Charleton (1619-1707) and the clergyman Joseph Glanvill (1636-1680). She is currently completing an article on the prose of Thomas Browne (1605-1682) and its surprising redeployment for new cultural work in what have been called the “anti-novels” of the late twentieth-century Anglo-German writer, W.G. Sebald.
In the summer of 2012, Dr. Morgan will study at l’Institut de Touraine in Tours, France in order to translate an early eighteenth-century novel by Nicolas Mavrocordato, Grand Dragoman (chief translator) of the Ottoman Porte of Istanbul from 1700-1709, and a correspondent of William Wake, an English scholar of Greek who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Mavrocordato composed his novel in his native Greek, and it was translated into French only as recently as 1989. No English translation exists, and even the Turkish translation is just now ready for publication by Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal.
“Mavrocordato’s novel is of current geo-political interest because of its portrayal of Istanbul and the Turkish people as engaged in cosmopolitan dialogue as much with Europe as with Asia. Whether I translate this fascinating novel for my own scholarly uses, or for wider dissemination, the result will be to further inform study of the eighteenth-century novel and the transmission of novelty” she says.
Dr. Morgan teaches courses on the history of the novel, the modern European novel, comedy in the novel, and eighteenth-century literature and culture, as well as required introductory, research methods, and literature survey courses at St. Thomas.