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Faculty and Staff


Sian Silyn Roberts

Assistant Professor and Assistant to the Chair
Assistant Professor and Assistant to the Chair

Klapper Hall, Room 601
Phone: 718-997-4677

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Research Interests

Sian Silyn Roberts is currently working on a book-length project entitled Gothic Subjects: The Transformation of Individualism in American Fiction, 1790-1850.  This book argues that Gothic conventions in antebellum fiction revise Enlightenment categories of the individual, sympathy, and the social contract to produce models of social relations capable of tolerating and incorporating heterogeneous cultural groups.  Focusing on the fiction of Charles Brockden Brown, Leonora Sansay, Robert Montgomery Bird, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and others, this project shows how the Gothic mode challenges the normativity and naturalness of these categories by opening individuals to their environment and subjecting them to collective sources of emotion and information.  Contrary to prevailing critical accounts that read the Gothic as the sublimated expression of a guilty national geist, this book accounts for the Gothic's substantial appeal during the post-Revolutionary period by arguing that it prepared a culturally diverse readership to think of itself as part of a circum-Atlantic world of exchange, through which people, goods, and information could circulate.


Professor Silyn Roberts teaches early American literature from colonial contact (sixteenth century) to the mid-nineteenth century.  She has offered courses on the early American novel, American Gothic fiction, and surveys of literature produced during the colonial and early republican periods.


Gothic Subjects: The Transformation of Individualism in American Fiction, 1790-1855. Forthcoming from University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

"A Transatlantic View of American Gothic Criticism." The Transatlantic Turn of the Gothic, eds. Monika Elbert and Bridget Marshall, Ashgate Press, 2013.

"Dispossession and Cosmopolitan Sociability in Leonora Sansay's Secret History." Forthcoming in Early America and the Haitian Revolution: Essays on the Cultural History of Atlantic Colonialism and Modernity, eds. Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Michael Drexler, University of Pennsylvania Press.

"Gothic Enlightenment: Contagion and Community in Charles Brockden Brown's Arthur Mervyn." Early American Literature 44.2 (2009).


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