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Patricia Matthew is a specialist in nineteenth-century British literature and culture. She has edited and co-edited journal issues (Romantic Pedagogy Commons, European Romantic Review, and Studies in Romanticism); the edited volume Written/Unwritten: Diversity and the Hidden Truths of Tenure (University of North Carolina Press, 2016); and is co-editor of the new Oxford University Press series Race in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. In addition to publishing in academic journals, she has written about Regency, race, and popular culture for The Atlantic, Lapham’s Quarterly, and The Times Literary Supplement. In 2020-2021 she was a Center for Diversity Innovation Distinguished Visiting Scholar at SUNY Buffalo, and in 2022-2023 she was the Anthony E. Kaye Fellow at the National Humanities Center. Her forthcoming work includes the Wondrium/audible.com lecture “Pride and Prejudice in the 21st Century.” She is currently writing a book about Britain’s sugar boycott, gender, and abolitionist culture for Princeton University Press and editing Mansfield Park for The Norton Library.
British Romanticism (poetry and fiction), the history of the novel, abolitionist British literature, and women's writing.
Current Book Project: "And freedom to the slave"
My book “And freedom to the slave:” Sugar and the Afterlives of Abolition is the first Black feminist analysis of England’s abolitionist campaign and its influence on current representations of race and gender. It brings together eighteenth and nineteenth-century literary texts, medical diaries, domestic objects, portraits, and contemporary film, sculpture, and portraiture to show how essential Black women and men as philanthropic objects have been to white women’s political progress. The book moves between the late eighteenth and twenty first centuries and among British abolitionist culture, accounts of West Indian planation life, and contemporary Black art. Taking the 1790 anti-sugar protests as its starting point, “And freedom to the slave” connects figures including Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, and Maria Edgeworth to contemporary Black artists including Amma Asante, Sanford Biggers, Peter Brathwaite, and Kara Walker. In doing so, it reveals how deeply the Regency-era’s genteel parlor culture is intertwined with the violence of the transatlantic slave trade and confronts the far reach of early abolitionist constructions of Blackness. Currently under an advance contract with Princeton University Press.