Madeline L. Zehnder

At the Couvent des Ursulines, New Orleans, LA

I teach, research, and write about book history, literature, and material culture in the 18th- and 19th-century Americas. I am a PhD candidate in the University of Virginia’s Department of English, where I am completing a dissertation titled “Companion Forms: Portable Objects and the Intimacies of Circulation in Nineteenth-Century America.” My scholarly work has appeared in American Literary History, New Literary History, and American Literature.

My dissertation investigates how pocket-sized books, miniature portraits, and other items that elicit special comment about their portability anchor nineteenth-century fantasies about intimate social and physical encounter across geographic distance. This project has benefited from the support of several fellowships, including the Stephen Botein Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society and the Anthony N.B. and Beatrice Garvan Fellowship in American Material Culture at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Together with Neal D. Curtis and Samuel V. Lemley, I also co-edit the Rotunda Library Online, an open-access, searchable online database of every book shelved in the University of Virginia’s Rotunda Library when it opened in 1826. An accompanying art installation and exhibit (“Rotunda Planetarium”) that we co-curated appeared in the Rotunda dome room November 2019 through February 2020.