Dr. Robert Battistini

Assistant Professor of English
Phone: ext. 2283
Email: battistinir@centenarycollege.edu 

Academic Accomplishments

  • Ph. D., American Literature, Columbia University, 2002
  • B.S., Psychology-Neuroscience, Indiana University, 1993


Robert is the department specialist in American literatures before 1900.  Before coming to Centenary, he taught at Franklin & Marshall College and Florida State University.   In addition to his scholarly research, Robert is a  co-editor of the Literary Magazine volume of the new Charles Brockden Brown Scholarly Edition, forthcoming from Bucknell UP.   


In my current project, I reconsider the idea of ‘bildungsroman’ in the early American novel.  Focusing in particular on 1800-1820, I argue that women writers like Leonora Sansay, Rebecca Rush, and Sarah Savage used narratives of women’s formation to negotiate a unique, American compromise between the competing terms of the classical bildungsroman: individual fulfillment and socialization.  

My other ongoing project, An Atlas of the Early Novel in North America, situates the early history of extended prose narratives in a transatlantic and continental context.   This project extends a formal concern for genre to the disparate literary creativities of an entire continent.  Working from North American responses to British models like Waverly and Clarissa, I am ‘mapping’ these distinct sites of American literary production onto imaginative atlases of history, ethnicity, and culture.   Tantalizing patterns have emerged.  While writers in the newly independent American state struggled to find generic forms to address deeply troubling cultural conditions, the writers north of the Great Lakes found the same genres unproblematic formats for celebrating British colonial identity in Canada.  These and other novelistic parallels across national boundaries trouble the conventional view of novels as reflecting and creating national culture.  The project will yield fresh insights about the literary history of the Americas, and it will suggest new questions about genre formation and aesthetic beginnings. 

Published Works

“’Not to Forsake…but to Restore’: Usable Pasts and Generic Play in
     Brown’s Historical Sketches.”  Literature of the Early American
,  Spring 2011.

“Glimpses of the Other before Orientalism: Images of the Muslim
     World in Early American Periodicals, 1785-1800.” Early American
, April 2010.

“Reluctant Innovation on the Pennsylvania Frontier: Hugh Henry
     Brackenridge’s Modern Chivalry.”  Pennsylvania Magazine
     of History and Biography
, April 2009.

 “Brown’s Quaker Milieu”  for The Oxford Handbook of Charles
     Brockden Brown
, eds. Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro
     (Forthcoming, Oxford UP, 2014). 

Dr. Robert Battistini