Madeline Zehnder

PhD in English, University of Virginia, 2015–present
Dissertation: “Pocket-Sized Nation: Cultures of Portability in America, 1790-1850”

Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, Majors in English and Music, Smith College, 2009–2013
Honors Thesis: “Telling, Retelling, and Not Telling: Narrating the Black Atlantic”
(received highest honors and the Elizabeth Drew Prize for best honors English thesis)

18th- and 19th-century American, Atlantic world, Material Culture, History of the Book, Aesthetics

“Revolutions of Taste: Mon Odyssée and the Aesthetic Inheritance of Saint-Domingue.” American Literary History 31, no. 1 (2019): 1-23,


  • Stephen Botein Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, 2019–20
  • Mary G. Stange Fellowship, Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, ME, 2019
  • Battestin Fellowship, Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, 2019
  • Winterthur Short-Term Research Fellow, Wilmington, DE, 2018–2019
  • RBS-UVA Fellow, Rare Book School, Charlottesville, VA, 2018–2019
  • Public Humanities Fellow, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia College of Arts & Sciences, January–May 2017
  • Research Fellow, Kahn Liberal Arts Institute, Smith College, August 2011–May 2012


  • “Writing ‘portable’ texts in the early republic: a pocket-sized literary history.” Society of Early Americanists Biennial Conference, Eugene, OR, February 2019.
  • “Washington Irving and the Souvenir Imagination.” Constructing Experience Conference, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, March 2018
  • “Consuming Beauty, Denying Freedom: Mon Odyssée and the Haitian Revolution.” Terrible Beauty Conference, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, April 2016.
  • “Devil’s Advocate: Questioning as Moral Imperative in Twain’s The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger.” Seventh International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, Elmira, NY, August 2013.


  • Co-curator, with Neal Curtis and Samuel Lemley.  “Rotunda Planetarium: Science & Learning in the University of Virginia’s First Library.” November 2019 to November 2020. This project uses an array of digital projectors to transform the University of Virginia’s Rotunda dome into a vast enlightenment planetarium, realizing Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural vision for the space. The paired exhibition displays books, instruments, specimens, and artifacts from the Rotunda’s early history to tell diverse stories of the people who built, worked, taught, and learned in the building.
  • Co-editor, with Neal Curtis and Samuel Lemley. Rotunda Library Online. 2018 to present. A searchable bibliographical database of every book shelved in the University of Virginia’s first library.


  • ENWR 1510, Writing & Critical Inquiry, University of Virginia, Fall 2016, Spring 2017 (Instructor)
  • Intro to American Studies, University of Virginia, Fall 2017 (TA)
  • ENGL 3820 History of Literatures in English II, University of Virginia, Spring 2018, 2019 (TA)
  • ENLT 2555: Freedom & Bondage in American Literature, Fall 2018 (Instructor)


  • Elizabeth Drew Prize for best honors thesis, Smith College Department of English, 2013
  • Gertrude Posner Spencer Prize for excellence in nonfiction prose, Smith College Department of English, 2013
  • Clara French Prize for senior who has advanced furthest in the study of English, Smith College Department of English, 2013
  • Early induction, Phi Beta Kappa, 2012
  • Dean’s List, 2009–2013

“The History of the Book in Antebellum America.” Rare Book School. July 8-13, 2018. Charlottesville, VA.

“Humanities Programming.” Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching (HILT). June 13-17, 2016. Indianapolis, IN.

Computer: Ruby, HTML/CSS, Final Cut, InDesign, Photoshop, LaTeX, Google Analytics
Languages: German (proficient), French (reading knowledge)

MLA (2015), Society of Early Americanists (2015), Phi Beta Kappa (2012)

UVA Career Development representative, 2017–2018
UVA Graduate Conference co-chair, 2016–2017
UVA American area representative, 2016–2018
UVA Graduate Conference, publicity committee, 2015–2016
Smith College alumnae interviewer, 2015–present

Reviewer, Publishers Weekly, 2016–2018
Copy editor, New Literary History, 2017–present