Toby R. Benis, Ph.D.
Chair of the Department of English; Professor
M.A., Columbia University, 1988
Ph.D., Columbia University, 1996
Romantic-era Literature and Culture; Women Writers of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth
Centuries; Theories of Space, Nationalism, and Exile
Her current research is focused on spatial practice in Romantic-era writing, with particular attention to intermediate levels of social and political organization in between the most local (the "estate" or "village") and the global (the nation or the empire). She is particularly interested in organizational categories such as the parish, the county, and the borough, with the aim of refining our understanding of how such terms, along with the inchoate but omnipresent concept of the "neighborhood," operate in Romantic culture and society.
Publications and Media Placements
Benis' book project, Jane Austen's Neighbourhood, uses the rubric of the neighborhood
as a way of exploring a range of social practices and representations of the liberal
subject in the work of Austen, Barbauld, Hazlitt, and Wordsworth.
Romantic Diasporas: French Emigres, British Convicts, and Jews. Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters 10. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Romanticism on the Road: the Marginal Gains of Wordsworth's Homeless, Macmillan/St. Martin's, 2000
Guest Editor, "Romantic Confluences," Essays in Romanticism 28.1 (2021)
Guest Editor, Essays in Honor of Karl Kroeber. Special Issue of The Wordsworth Circle 38.1-2 (2007): 1-87
“A Sailor and an Artist: The Naval Drawings of Francis Austen,” Persuasions: the Journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America, 43 (2022): 58-70.
“Spatial Consciousness and Spiritual Practice in Mansfield Park,” Studies in Romanticism 58. (Fall 2019): 333-355.
“Vagrants and Neighbors in The Prelude,” The Wordsworth Circle 48 (2017): 84-7.
“Poverty and Crime.” Wordsworth in Context. Ed. A. J. Bennett. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2015. 182-9.
"Shipwrecked on land in Persuasion." Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal. 35 (2013): 200-11.
"The Excursion Poem." The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Romantic Literature. Vol. 1. Ed. Frederick Burwick & Nancy Goslee Moore. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. 444-453.
"The Austen Effect: Remaking Romantic History as a Novel of Manners," The Wordsworth Circle 42 (2011): 183-6.
"Byron's Hebrew Melodies and the Musical Nation," in Romanticism/Judaica: A Convergence of Cultures, ed. Sheila A. Spector, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011. 31-44.
"'A Likely Story': Charlotte Smith's Revolutionary Narratives." European Romantic Review 14 (2003): 291-306.
"Transportation and the Reform of Narrative," Criticism 45 (2003): 285-299.
"Criminal Transport: George Barrington and the Colonial Cure," Australian Literary Studies 20 (May 2002): 167-177.
"Martha Ray's Face: Life During Wartime in Lyrical Ballads," Criticism, 39 (1997): 205-27.
"Epic" and "Sir James Mackintosh," in Encyclopedia of Romanticism, ed. Laura Dabundo (New York: Garland, l992).