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Dawn Coleman

Dawn Coleman

Associate Professor


Dr. Coleman's research focuses on nineteenth-century American literature, especially the work of Herman Melville, and issues of religion and secularity. Her book, Preaching and the Rise of the American Novel (2013), shows how a range of mid-nineteenth-century American authors, including Melville, George Lippard, Nathaniel Hawthorne, 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 at work on a book titled "With Equal Eye: Women and Emergent Secularism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature," on how fiction and other cultural texts narrate women's religious skepticism.
She serves as book review editor for Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, as a Contributing Scholar to Melville's Marginalia Online, and on the editorial boards of American Studies and Sermon Studies. She is also the Secretary of UT's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Epsilon of Tennessee.


Ph.D. Stanford University
M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School



Representative Articles:

  • Secular Melancholy: Unbelief and the ‘Literature of Misery.’” Above the American Renaissance. Ed. Harold K. Bush, Jr. and Brian Yothers. University of Massachusetts Press. Forthcoming 2018.
  • "The Bible and the Sermonic Tradition in America.” Oxford Handbook of the Bible in America. Ed. Paul Gutjahr. New York: Oxford UP. Forthcoming Fall 2017.
  • “The Bible.” Herman Melville in Context. Ed. Kevin J. Hayes. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Forthcoming Fall 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 ( 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

  • 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
Dawn Coleman

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