Melinda Alliker Rabb Professor of English

Melinda Rabb is the author of Satire and Secrecy in English Literature 1650-1750 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and Beyond Lilliput: Literature, Small-Scale Material Culture, and Cognition 1650-1765 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2018). Her chapters and articles on 18th-c. novels, satire, drama, and poetry, and on authors including Swift, Manley, Pope, Richardson, Fielding, Sterne, Godwin, and Defoe, have appeared in books such as Cutting Edges: Postmodern Critical Essays on 18th-c. Satire (1995), A Companion to Early Modern Women's Writing (2002), The Blackwell Companion to Satire (2006), Reading Swift (2008), and The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Women's Writing (2015), and in journals such as Modern Language Studies, Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, PLL, SEL, ECS and ELH. She has edited Lucius: The First Christian King of England for The Broadview Anthology of Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Drama, ed. Douglas Canfield (2000) and a special issue of Modern Language Studies titled Making and Rethinking the Canon: The Eighteenth Century XCIII: 1 (1988). Before joining Brown's faculty, she taught in the Humanities department at MIT. Her most recent publications draw on new research on embodiment, masculinity, and the effects of the the mid-seventeenth-century civil wars on eighteenth-century literature.

Brown Affiliations

scholarly work

Invited lectures include:

"Swift and the Sinews, Blood, and Treasure of War." Dublin Swift Symposium. The Deanery, St. Patrick's Cathedral. Dublin, Ireland, 2011.

"The Stretch of Human Brain." Plenary address, Situating States of Mind: An Interdisciplinary Conference." Northumbria University, Newcastle UK, June, 2012.

"Cogito ergo Gulliver." Swift Symposium, Ehrenpreis Center, Munster, Germany, 2013.

"No Quarter and the Meaning of (Bare) Life." Plenary address, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. St. Hugh's College, University of Oxford, January 2017.

"Swift's Civil War." Swift Symposium, Ehrenpreis Center, Munster, Germany, 2017.

research overview

Melinda Rabb has research interests in literature and culture of the 'long' eighteenth century, that is, from the time of the English Civil Wars through the career of Jane Austen. Within this broad time-frame, particular interests include satire, secret history, the novel, early modern women's writing, the idea of war, trauma, and embodiment, material culture, and the history of cognition.

research statement

Recent interests have engaged me into two areas of research. The first project, Parting Shots: Eighteenth-Century Displacements of the Male Body at War, investigates the significance of the English Civil Wars on eighteenth-century literature in which the experience of war trauma and the difficult memories of internecine conflict alter representations of masculine identity, the body, and political institutions intended to insure the value of life. The second project, on miniaturization in literature, in material things, and in cognitive science analyzes objects and texts (between 1650 and 1765) in order to explain the practice of reproducing objects in small scale. This practice has ramifications in eighteenth-century literature, art, science, and the history of cognition. The project is forthcoming as a book, Beyond Lilliput: Literature, Small-Scale Material Culture, and Cognition (Cambridge University Press). Past research and publications with ongoing interest include Swift, Johnson, Sterne, Manley, satire, the novel, early modern women's writing, and the ongoing revision of the canon.

funded research

National Endowment for the Humanities, 2001

Winterthur Museum Research Fellowship, 2012

Cogut Faculty Fellowship, 2013

Humanities Research Fund, 2010-2017