Dr Meredith Miller
I am a fiction writer and literary critic with an interest in gender, sexuality and narrative form. As a cultural materialist I am interested in the relationship between reading communities and evolving forms of fiction and between narrative form and the evolution of publishing contexts.
As a fiction writer I am concerned with interactions among sexuality, narrative form and feminine reading communities. I also have a creative interest in aurality and the relation between language, landscape and the experience of location.
My most recent critical work has focused on late nineteenth-century novels, gender and the evolution of 'art' fiction. Over the past two years I have published two novels with Harper: Little Wrecks (2017) and How We Learned to Lie (2018).
My short story '1977, or so' can be read at the new Short Fiction online archive here.
My creative/critical contribution to Nicholas Rombes' (University of Detroit Mercy) Requiem 102 project can be read here.
I was born and raised in the United States, where I completed my first two degrees. My Bachelor’s, from the University of New Orleans, was a modular degree focussed on World Literature and Women’s Studies. The interdisciplinary approach of the Women’s Studies programme at UNO introduced me to critical and methodological approaches from a broad range of Humanities and Social Science disciplines which continue to inform my academic work. The passionate and socially active scholars who taught me there are a continued source of inspiration.
I completed a Master’s in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York in 1996. My MA pathway concentrated on Medieval Literature and Critical Theory, in particular theories of gender, sexuality and identity. Following the MA, I came to the UK to undertake my PhD at University of Sussex. The PhD focussed on the relation between subculture and mass culture in lesbian reading communities formed around pulp fiction in the postwar United States. Some articles derived from that work can be seen here and here.
My PhD work made it clear to me that my preferred methodology for thinking about literature would always include the material and social context within which it was produced and received. My work continues to focus on novel as a machine for harnessing gendered desires, on the role of women, gender and sexuality in the development of the novel and on the way in which queer communities have deployed its generic forms.
Though I have always been an imaginative as well as an academic writer, my creative work and my teaching have coincided only since 2014, when I began increasingly to teach and supervise Creative Writing. My novels and short fiction are informed by the same concerns as my academic work, and I am particularly interested in addressing feminine readerships. The experience of publishing big market novels has added new layers to my understanding of the context in which novels are made and how reading communities are formed around particular markets and genres. You can read the first three chapters of my novel Little Wrecks here.
My critical work focuses on gender and sexuality in the long nineteenth-century novel. I am particularly interested in how certain generic forms of the novel are reworked, redeployed and instrumentalised across cultural registers by writers and readers as the century progresses. My most recent academic monograph, Feminine Subjects in Masculine Fiction: Modernity, WIll and Desire, 1870-1910 (Palgrave 2013), looks at the manner in which gendered aesthetic relation develops the sense of the psychological in late nineteenth century fiction, and at how this relates to developing economies that shape the individual and the nation. Various structures and techniques which come to define high modernism as a radical break from nineteenth century realism can in fact be clearly indentified in fictions in multiple registers of the literary and the popular from the 1860s. It is in gendered object relation, in novels which focus on peculiarly semi-distant female subjects, that certain English language fictions make their move into the register of 'art'.
I am currently working on masculinity in the Irish national novels of Maria Edgeworth and Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan. These novels conflate a liminal gentlemanliness with the unstable and indefinable border between England and Ireland in the wake of the turbulent 1790s and the 1800 Act of Union. The play between reason and sentiment, affective excess and self-restraint which defines the masculine individual in this period also figures the imagined difference between Englishness and Irishness. Writers such as Sydney Owenson develop psychological prose through complex and intricate play with narrative point of view and through the discourse of reason and sentiment. Masculine subjects in Edgeworth and Owenson serve as vehicles of an unstable Irish Englishness which both the novel and the nation seek to contain.
My most recent novel, How We Learned to Lie, is the second of two American gothic novels published by Harper in 2017 and 2018. These novels are set in 1979 and 1980, and function as coming of age narratives in the tradition of the southern gothic writers of the 1930s and 1940s. Carson McCullers is a particular influence for me, as are writers of that same period as diverse as Raymond Chandler and Anais Nin. All of these stylistic voices can be discerned in my first Harper novel, Little Wrecks.
I have recently completed Whiteness, a 'northern gothic' revenge tragedy set in the forests and farmlands of northern New England in the early twentieth century, and am currently working on Fall River, a small-town gothic set in the Britain of 2016. All of my fiction work is concerned with local dialect language and affective/psychological experience of world and landscape. All are explorations of traumas both personal and national, and of the manner in which individual life-projects are vehicles for resistance, particularly in terms of gender and sexual violence.
Miller, M. 2018. How We Learned to Lie, Harper.
Miller, M. 2017. Little Wrecks, Harper.
Miller, M. 2013. Feminine Subjects in Masculine Fiction: Modernity, Will and Desire, 1870-1910. Palgrave, 2013.
Miller, M. 2006. The Historical Dictionary of Lesbian Literature. Rowman and Littlefield.
Miller, M. 2007. Guest Editor: Feminist Gaps: Ideology and Practice in Higher Education. Special issue of Feminist Teacher, Spring.
Miller, M. "Ice" 2013. Stand 12(1), Autumn.
Miller, M. 2013. "The Stiff Heart" AltHist 5, November.
Miller, M. 2011. "The Window’s Wife." Prole 6, November.
Miller, M. 2011. "Thanksgiving" The View from Here, 32.
Miller, M. "1977, or so." Short Fiction 3, Plymouth University Press.
Journal Articles and Book Chapters:
Miller, M. 2019. "Narrating the Sexual Self: Lesbian, Gay and Trans Bildungsromane." Book Chapter. ed.Sarah Graham A New History of the Bildungsroman. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
Miller, M. 2018. "Tuberculosis and Visionary Sensibility: The Consumptive Body as Masculine Protest." Book chapter. eds JoAnne Ella Parsons and Ruth Heholt Victorian Male Bodies. Edinburgh University Press.
Miller, M. 2017. "Mystical Nationalism and the Rotten Heart of Empire: The Tangled Trope of Marriage in Daniel Deronda."Book Chapter. eds Carolyn Lambert and Marion Shaw The Female View: Victorian Women Writers and the Marriage Plot, Routledge.
Miller, M. 2009. “ 'I Don’t Want to be a [White] Girl': Gender, Race and Resistance in the Southern Gothic." Book Chapter, eds Andrew Smith and Diana Wallace The Female Gothic: New Directions. Palgrave.
Miller, M. 2005. "The Feminine Mystique: Sexual Excess and the Pre-political Housewife." Women: A Cultural Review 16(1).
Miller, M. 2001. "Secret Agents and Public Victims: The Implied Lesbian Reader." Journal of Popular Culture 35(1).
I am interested in supervising PhD students in:
- gender and fictions of the long nineteenth-century
- theories of gender and sexuality, particularly as they relate to narrative form
- the fin de siecle and the advent of modernism
- creative writing: fiction
- questions around the literary and the popular