Department of English

University of Toronto

Esterhammer, Angela

Angela Esterhammer Profile picture of Angela Esterhammer
Professor; Graduate Faculty; Associate Faculty: Centre for Comparative Literature; Affiliate Faculty: Collaborative Program in Book History and Print Culture; Associate Faculty: Department of German.
Office Phone: 416-585-4570
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 915 and Victoria College 107.
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Faculty Profile:

Degrees: B.A. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Princeton), FRSC.

Teaching Fields: Romantic & Victorian Literature.

Biography: I work in the areas of British, German, and European Romanticism and nineteenth-century culture, from perspectives that emphasize performativity and performance. My books Creating States (1994) and The Romantic Performative (2000) approach literary texts from the viewpoint of verbal performativity, speech acts, and philosophies of language. Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850 (2008) uncovers the popularity of on-stage poetic improvisers during the “Romantic century,” tracing the influence of improvisational poetry across Europe and showing how improvisation interacts with Romantic ideas about genius, spontaneity, orality, gender, and national identity (see also the online database “The Improvisation of Poetry, 1750-1850” ). My current SSHRCC-funded project, “Speculation, Improvisation, Mediality: The Late-Romantic Information Age,” concerns experimental uses of textual, visual, and performative media during the 1820s and investigates the era's preoccupation with personal identity, celebrity, anonymity, and pseudonymity. In the course of this research I am working with literary magazines, innovative forms of theatre, and popular fiction, especially the work of the Scottish writer John Galt. As the General Editor of The Works of John Galt, I lead an international project to publish a 15-volume critical edition of Galt’s fiction and related non-fictional prose. Other areas covered in my research and teaching are English and German Romantic poetry (Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron, Hemans, Landon, Hölderlin) and fiction (Scott, Godwin, Kleist, Staël). Past and present professional roles include: Founding Member and Executive Committee member of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR); Founding Director of Western University's graduate program in Comparative Literature (MA and PhD) and the University of Zurich's PhD program in English and American Literary Studies; Past President of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association and member of the Executive Council of the International Comparative Literature Association; Trustee of the Wordsworth Conference Foundation. My research has been supported by SSHRCC, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), and the Zentrum für Literaturforschung, Berlin; I am a past holder of the Distinguished University Professorship (Western) and the John Charles Polanyi Prize for Literature, a member of the Academia Europaea, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

smblue books Publications:

Co-editor (with Diane Piccitto and Patrick Vincent), Romanticism, Rousseau, Switzerland: New Prospects. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 229 pp.

Co-editor (with Diane Piccitto and Patrick Vincent), Romantic Prospects. Special conference issue of European Romantic Review 24.3 (June 2013). 132 pp.

Co-editor (with Alexander J. Dick), Spheres of Action: Speech and Performance in Romantic Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Co-editor (with Jefferson J. A. Gatrall), Identity and Community: Constructions, Deconstructions, Reconstructions. Special issue of Arcadia: International Journal of Literary Studies 43 (2008), No. 1.

Editor, Northrop Frye on Milton and Blake. Volume 16 of the Collected Works of Northrop Frye. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Spontaneous Overflows and Revivifying Rays: Romanticism and the Discourse of Improvisation. Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 2004.

Co-editor (with Vladimir Biti). Framing Contingency. Special issue of Arcadia 39 (2004), No. 2.

Editor, Romantic Poetry. Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2002.

The Romantic Performative: Language and Action in British and German Romanticism. Stanford University Press, 2000.

Creating States: Studies in the Performative Language of John Milton and William Blake. University of Toronto Press, 1994. 245 pp.

Two Stories of Prague, by R. M. Rilke. A translation and critical introduction. University Press of New England, 1994. 109 pp.

Editor, Philosophies of Genre. Special Issue of European Romantic Review, 5 (1994), No. 1. 131 pp.

Selected Articles: 

“The 1820s and Beyond.” The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism. Ed. David Duff. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. 74-88.

“The Reception of Blake in Switzerland.” The Reception of William Blake in Europe. Ed. Morton D. Paley and Sibylle Erle. London: Bloomsbury Academic (2018).

“Galt the Speculator: Sir Andrew Wylie, The Entail, and Lawrie Todd.” The International Companion to John Galt. Ed. Gerard Carruthers and Colin Kidd. Glasgow: Scottish Literature International, 2017. 44-56.

 “Ambiguous Identities in Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Its Late-Romantic Contexts.” Romantic Ambiguities: Abodes of the Modern. Ed. Sebastian Domsch, Christoph Reinfandt, and Katharina Rennhak. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2017. 181-92.

“Speculative Fiction and Counterfactual Narrative in Scottish and Irish Romanticism.” Narratives of Romanticism. Ed. Sandra Heinen and Katharina Rennhak. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2017. 115-21.

“Counterfactual Speculations in Late Romanticism: Scott, Banim, Galt, and Mitford.” Counterfactual Romanticism, ed. Damian Walford Davies (Manchester UP, forthcoming 2018).

“The Reception of Blake in Switzerland.” The Reception of William Blake in Europe, ed. Morton D. Paley and Sibylle Erle. London: Bloomsbury Academic (forthcoming 2018).

“Identity Crises and Unaccountable Acts: More Contexts for Hogg’s Justified Sinner.” Studies in Hogg and his World 25-26 (2015-16): 3-20.

“The 1820s and Beyond.” The Oxford Handbook of British Romanticism. Ed. David S. Duff. Oxford: Oxford UP (forthcoming 2018).

“Speculation in the Late-Romantic Literary Marketplace.” Victoriographies 7.1 (2017): 7-24.

“John Galt’s The Omen: Interpretation and Its Discontents.” European Romantic Review 27.4 (August 2016): 489-503.

“The Improvisation of Poetry, 1750-1850: Oral Performance, Print Culture, and the Modern Homer.” The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Vol. 1. Ed. George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut. New York: Oxford UP, 2016. 239-54.

“Identity Crises: Celebrity, Anonymity, Doubles, and Frauds in European Romanticism.” The Oxford Handbook of European Romanticism. Ed. Paul Hamilton. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016. 771-87.

“Improvisation, Speculation, and Mediality: The Late-Romantic Information Age.” Europäische Romantik: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven der Forschung. Ed. Helmut Hühn and Joachim Schiedermair. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015. 229-37.

“Afterword: The Audience, the Public, and the Improvisator Maximilian Langenschwarz.” Performing Knowledge, 1750-1850. Ed. Mary Helen Dupree and Sean B. Franzel. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015. 341-6.

“Philosophies of Identity and Impersonation from Locke to Charles Mathews.” Romanticism and Philosophy: Thinking with Literature. Ed. Sophie Laniel-Musitelli and Thomas Constantinesco. London: Routledge, 2015. 147-65.

“The Transnational Reception of Improvised Drama: Tommaso Sgricci in Paris and in the Periodicals.” Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film 41.2 (Winter 2014): 13-28.

“’Maga-scenes’: Performing Periodical Literature in the 1820s.” The Public Intellectual and the Culture of Hope. Ed. Joel R. Faflak and Jason Haslam. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013. 31-50.

“Impersonation in Late-Romantic Urban Performance and Print Culture.” Romantic Cityscapes. Ed. Jens Martin Gurr and Berit Michel. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2013. 155-64.

“John Galt’s Mediterranean Experience.” The Wordsworth Circle 43 (2012): 113-16.

“1824: Improvisation, Speculation, and Identity-Construction.” BRANCH (Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History, 1775-1925). Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. 2012.

“Sayings, Doings, and Speculations: Remediating Theodore Hook’s Silver-fork Fiction.” Informal Romanticism. Ed. James Vigus. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2012. 131-43.

“Agency, Destiny, and National Character: John Galt and Europe.” John Galt: Observations and Conjectures on Literature, History, and Society. Ed. Regina Hewitt. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield/Bucknell UP, 2012. 323-44.

“Die Kunst des stimmigen Wortes. Improvisatoren und ihr Publikum im 19. Jahrhundert.” Concordia discors. Ästhetiken der Stimmung zwischen Literaturen, Künsten und Wissenschaften. Ed. Hans-Georg von Arburg and Sergej Rickenbacher. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012. 23-34.

“John Thelwall’s Panoramic Miscellany: The Lecturer as Journalist.” John Thelwall: Critical Reassessments. Ed. Yasmin Solomonescu. Series title: Romantic Circles Praxis (September 2011).

“Coleridge, Sgricci, and the Shows of London: Improvising in Print and Performance.” Dante and Italy in British Romanticism. Ed. Frederick Burwick and Paul Douglass. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 143-59.

“John Galt’s Fictional and Performative Worlds.” The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Romanticism. Ed. Murray Pittock. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011. 166-77.

“Coleridge’s ‘The Improvisatore’: Poetry, Performance, and Remediation.” The Wordsworth Circle 40 (2011): 122-8.

“Spontaneity, Immediacy, and Improvisation in Romantic Poetry.” A Companion to Romantic Poetry. Ed. Charles Mahoney. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 321-36.

“Performing Identities in Byron and Bourdieu.” Performing the Self. Ed. Karen Junod and Didier Maillat. Series title: SPELL (Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature) 24.Tübingen: Narr Verlag, 2010. 21-31.

“The Scandal of Sincerity: Wordsworth, Byron, Landon.” Romanticism, Sincerity and Authenticity. Ed. Tim Milnes and Kerry Sinanan. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 101-19.

“London Periodicals, Scottish Novels, and Italian Fabrications: Andrew of Padua, the Improvisatore Re-membered.” Studies in Romanticism 48 (2009): 469-90.

“Byron and Cosmopolitanism.” Primerjalna književnost (= Comparative Literature, Ljubljana) 32.2 (2009): 113-21.

“Übertragene Ruinen: Byron, Hemans, Keats.” Übertragene Anfänge: Imperiale Figurationen um 1800. Ed. Tobias Döring, Barbara Vinken, and Günter Zöller. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2010. 131-46.

“Coleridge in the Newspapers, Periodicals, and Annuals.” The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Ed. Frederick Burwick. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 165-84.

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