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Graduate Faculty

Dawn ColemanDawn Coleman

Associate Professor

406 McClung Tower
Phone: (865) 974-6956
Fax: (865) 974-6926
E-mail: dcolema7@utk.edu
C.V.

Biography

Dr. Coleman specializes in nineteenth-century American literature, focusing on issues of religion and secularity. Her book, Preaching and the Rise of the American Novel (The Ohio State University Press, 2013), was supported by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Visiting Scholars Program and an American Antiquarian Society-Northeast Modern Language Association Fellowship. It argues for the sermon as the paradigmatic voice of moral authority in the United States during the nineteenth century and analyzes how midcentury literary writers, including George Lippard, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and William Wells Brown, appropriated the voice and figure of the popular preacher to claim moral authority for fiction.

Currently she is writing a book, Margaret’s Ghosts: Inventing Secular Womanhood in American Literature, which has received support from the UT Humanities Center, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, and a UTK Chancellor’s Research Grant. It argues that Margaret Fuller’s life, writings, and tragic death in 1850 catalyzed a new literary and cultural type, the secular woman. Drawing on novel theory, history, women’s studies, and religious and secular studies and a thorough reassessment of the literary archive, it analyzes how nineteenth-century US novels and autobiographies incorporating this type represent the possibility that women might legitimately defy early US secularism’s gendered piety mandate and lead admirable, influential lives outside organized religion.

Dr. Coleman is also an active Melville scholar. In addition to her many published essays on Melville, she served from 2013-2020 as book review editor of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies and now serves on Leviathan’s advisory board. She is a contributing scholar to Melville's Marginalia Online, has collaborated on the Melville Electronic Library, and has given public lectures on Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd.

At UTK, in addition to her primary appointment in English, she is affiliate faculty in Religious Studies. She has served as Director of Graduate Studies in English (2015-2018), as Phi Beta Kappa Secretary (Epsilon of Tennessee, 2013-2019), and on the UT Press editorial board (2014-2017) and is currently on the Undergraduate Council.

Education

  • Ph.D. Stanford University
  • M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School
  • B.A. UCLA

Publications

Books

Representative Articles

  • “Religion and Secularity,” in A Companion to Herman Melville, 2nd ed. Ed. Wyn Kelley and Christopher Ohge. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. Forthcoming November 2021.
  • “A Postsecular Iola Leroy: Frances Harper’s Revision of Philadelphia Unitarianism.” ESQ. Forthcoming December 2020.
  • “The Spiritual Authority of Literature in a Secular Age.” Christianity and Literature 67.3 (2018): 519-530.
  • Secular Melancholy: Unbelief and the ‘Literature of Misery.’” Above the American Renaissance. Ed. Harold K. Bush, Jr. and Brian Yothers. University of Massachusetts Press, 2018.
  • "The Bible and the Sermonic Tradition in America.” Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America. Ed. Paul Gutjahr. New York: Oxford UP, 2017.
  • “The Bible.” Herman Melville in Context. Ed. Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017.
  • “Whales in Cincinnati.” Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 19.1 (2017): 122-39.
  • “Melville and the Unitarian Conscience.” Visionary of the Word: Melville and Religion. Eds. Brian Yothers and Jonathan Cook. Northwestern UP, 2017.  129-57.
  • “Introduction to Herman and Elizabeth Melville’s The Works of William E. Channing.” Melville’s Marginalia Online (melvillesmarginalia.org). November 2015.
  • “Mahomet’s Gospel and Other Revelations: Discovering Melville’s Hand in Channing’s Works.” Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies 17.2 (2015): 74-88.
  • “Senecan Self-Command and the Rhetoric of the Fugitive Slave.” Facing Melville, Facing Italy: Democracy, Politics, Translation. Eds. John Bryant, Gordon Poole, and Giorgio Mariani. Rome: Sapienza Università Editrice, 2014. 69-81.
  • “Critiquing Perfection: Hawthorne’s Revision of Salem’s Unitarian Saint,” Nathaniel Hawthorne Review 37.1 (2011): 1-19.
  • “The Antebellum American Sermon as Lived Religion.” A New History of the Sermon: The Nineteenth Century, ed. Robert Ellison. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2010.
  • “Daniel Deronda and the Limits of Sermonic Voice.” Studies in the Novel 40.4 (2008): 407-25.
  • “The Unsentimental Woman Preacher of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” American Literature 80.2 (2008): 265-292.

Awards, Honors & Grants

  • UT Humanities Center Faculty Fellow 2020-2021
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, “Religion, Secularism, and the Novel,” 2019
  • Chancellor’s Research Grant 2019
  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor (outside the classroom), given by the Graduate Students in English, April 2016
  • QUEST Scholar of the Week, University of Tennessee, March 2014
  • Visiting Scholar, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2009-2010
  • American Antiquarian Society-Northeast Modern Language Association Fellowship, Worcester, MA, 2006
  • Outstanding Faculty Mentor (outside the classroom), given by the Graduate Students in English, April 2016
  • QUEST Scholar of the Week, University of Tennessee, March 2014
  • Visiting Scholar, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2009-2010
  • American Antiquarian Society-Northeast Modern Language Association Fellowship, Worcester, MA, 2006
  • Northern California Association Phi Beta Kappa Graduate Scholarship, 2001