I write for love and money.
I’m a PhD candidate at Cambridge University studying the travel writings of Americans abroad in the 1840s and 50s. I also write short fiction, essays, and the occasional film review.
My non-academic writings frequently cover gender, feminism and sexism; film and the visual arts; and popular perceptions of science. I am working on a longer project about non-nuclear family structures, and the ways cultural representations and laws are lagging behind many people’s lived reality.
So what’s my PhD about? The period of American history immediately before the Civil War was distinctive both for the blossoming of a distinctly American literature and culture, sometimes referred to as the “American Renaissance,” and for the deep social tensions, charged rhetoric, and courageous struggles associated with the final decades of slavery. I’m interested in what happened when Americans went abroad and looked back at their home society at this time of tumultuous change.
The writers at the core of my study are Herman Melville, Margaret Fuller Ossoli, David F. Dorr and William Wells Brown. Other Interesting Americans abroad at this time included Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. Emergent themes in the writings I am studying include writing about work and writing as work; the relevance of the growing radicalism in Europe for American society; the uneasy cultural relationship between Europe and America; aesthetic theories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and the problems of belatedness and the travelogue genre for nineteenth-century travellers in Europe.
My other academic interests include American literature of other periods, life writing, travel writing, transatlantic cultural exchange, and the novel form. A sample of my academic writing can be found here: http://is.gd/hfA0i
My twitter handle is @katrinazaat and my gmail address is katrina.zaat@. I invite you to contact me about writing or academic matters, or to tell me that I tweet too much (I know I tweet too much).