Rice University

Department of English

Job Market Stories from Kevin Morrison and Molly Robey

Kevin Morrison recently defended his dissertation, “Inhabiting Liberalism: Politics Culture, and the Spaces of Masculine Professionalism, 1823-1903.” He entered the job market last year, has been hired as an assistant professor at Syracuse University, and is currently coordinating his move to New York. Despite being incredibly busy, Kevin has contributed a short account of his time at Rice and how his dissertation began to take shape while conducting research in the U.K.

        The clock was ticking. With just a few minutes left before London’s Athenaeum Club archive, where I had been undertaking research for a conference paper, was to close, I came across a note in an 1866 minute book about the shattering of their ground floor windows during the Hyde Park riots. I had long known that Matthew Arnold wrote Culture and Anarchy in response to the riots and, especially, to having watched demonstrators pelt the windows of his neighbor, the commissioner of police, Richard Mayne. To what extent, I wondered, hurriedly collecting my things, might Arnold’s response have also been shaped by the desecration of the club, where he had been a member since 1856 and experienced “something resembling beatitude” whenever he passed through the Athenaeum’s imposingly palatial Roman-Doric entrance portico. (Click here to read the rest of Kevin’s story.)

In 2008 Molly Robey won Rice’s prestigious Lodieska Stockbridge Vaughn Fellowship in Humanities for her work in English and for her promising dissertation as outlined in her prospectus. This past April she successfully defended her dissertation and was awarded the Chair’s Best Dissertation Prize; she is beginning work this fall as an assistant professor at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. Here, Molly recounts how her trip to Jerusalem this summer marked the culmination of her dissertation, “Sacred Geographies: Religion, Race, and the Holy Land in U.S. Literature, 1819-1920.” 

        On June 18, 2009, I removed my shoes, placed a veil over my hair, and walked inside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Entering this space, which marks one of the holiest sites in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions, I was overwhelmed—not with religious awe so much as narrative overload. For me, this experience was the culmination of years of studying and writing about U.S. representations of the Holy Land.
(Click here to read the rest Molly’s story.)


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