Susan Ryan

Professor & Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences


Susan Ryan specializes in nineteenth-century American literature and culture, with particular interests in US reform movements; the history of authorship and reception; the cultural history of emotion; literatures of the American Civil War; archival and digital research methods; and American periodicals. She is the author of The Grammar of Good Intentions: Race and the Antebellum Culture of Benevolence (Cornell UP, 2003) and The Moral Economies of American Authorship: Reputation, Scandal, and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace (Oxford UP, 2016).

Dr. Ryan is currently working on a book-length study tentatively called “Figuring India in Nineteenth-Century American Culture”:

This project analyzes nineteenth-century Americans’ complex engagement with India. Most obviously, India appeared in U.S. print culture as a so-called heathen land in need of missionizing, but it also emerged as a point of reference in a range of domestic conflicts and conversations, including those relating to slavery, women’s rights, temperance, and religious freedom. Further, India figured into Americans’ early imperialist imaginings, as British domination of the subcontinent became, by turns, a model and a cautionary tale for those interested in wielding power abroad. Using a range of sources--including periodicals, missionary letters and memoirs, poetry, and fiction--I look at how the India that Americans read about so avidly came to shape their conceptions of their own projects and prospects, both at home and abroad.