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Research Spotlight: Samantha Trzinski

September 6, 2023

Research Spotlight: Samantha Trzinski

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Samantha Trzinski Headshot

Each month, the Communications Team reaches out to members of the Department of English faculty and graduate program and asks them to elaborate on a current research or creative project they are working on or have recently completed. For this month, we asked graduate student Samantha Trzinski about her research on Romantic-era women writers.  

In your own words, as the expert that you are, can you explain the overview of your project?  

My dissertation project considers how Romantic-era women writers use melancholy as a pedagogical tool in their writings for a female readership. It examines various genres, including conversational primers, elegiac poetry, fallen woman novels, and personal writings, and how women writers use these genres and the sadness of their characters or themselves to prepare future generations of women for their inevitable subjugation in patriarchal Britain.  

Now, could you shorten this description into one sentence that uses accessible language?  

My dissertation project considers how Romantic-era (c.1780-1837) women writers use sorrow as an educational tool and how their writings aim to prepare future generations of women for a life of subjugation in the British patriarchy.  

In what ways is your research significant?  

This project uncovers understandings of femininity and what it means to be a woman in the Romantic era, and it demonstrates the autonomy that women were able to obtain through their writings for a female readership. Although this project is grounded in the Romantic era, it also has implications for the current day. Concepts of femininity and women’s roles in social, legal, and political spheres continue to be discussed and debated today.  

Where do you see this project going in the future?  

With this project, I have had the opportunity to recover some lost voices of the 19th century. This project has given me the chance to conduct research on some women writers’ lives, and I hope to uncover more biographical information on these authors so that other scholars may learn about them and the impact that they had on the 19th-century book market.  

What’s next for you? What would you like to work on once this project is completed?  

 In addition to my dissertation, I have been working on other research projects. My article “Beyond a Reading Primer: Children’s Marginalia in Little Charles” recently appeared in The Lion and the Unicorn, and I have an article forthcoming in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, which focuses on Charlotte Smith’s Rural Walks and its hidden gendered lessons. I am also working on two other manuscripts at this time, which both focus on Romantic-era women writers and how they navigate the limitations placed on them by patriarchal society. Once these projects are complete, I want to work more on research focused on children’s books. I want to examine more recent works of children’s literature and connect them to 19th-century juvenile works to demonstrate the impact that early children’s books continue to have today. 

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