Jeffrey Steele

7129 Helen C. White Hall
(608) 263-5558
E-mail Jeffrey Steele
American Studies, 19th-century American women's writing, urban and spatial studies

Degrees and Institutions

PhD, Harvard University, 1981
MA, Harvard University, 1977
MAT., Harvard University Graduate School of Education, 1971
BA magna cum laude, Carleton College, 1969

Selected Publications

  • Transfiguring America: Myth, Ideology, and Mourning in Margaret Fuller's Writing (2001) 
  • The Essential Margaret Fuller (1993) 
  • The Representation of the Self in the American Renaissance (1987) 
  • “Crises of Relationship: Developing Relational Models for the Study of the American Renaissance,” ESQ: A  Journal of the American Renaissance, 49:1-3 (2003) 
  • "The Limits of Political Sympathy: Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Woman's Rights," in The Emerson Dilemma: Essays on Emerson and  Social Reform (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2001) 
  • "Reduced to Images: American Indians in 19th-Century Advertising," in The Gender and Consumer Culture Reader (New York University Press, 2000) 
  • "Douglass and Sentimental Rhetoric," in Approaches to Teaching the Narrative of the Life of  Frederick Douglass (MLA, 1999) 
  • "Transcendental Friendship: Emerson, Fuller, and Thoreau," in The Cambridge Companion to Emerson (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999) 
  • "The Gender and Racial Politics of Mourning in Antebellum America," in An Emotional History of the United States (NYU Press, 1998) 
  • "The Politics of Mourning: Cultural Grief-Work from Frederick Douglass to Fanny Fern," in Criticism and the Color Line: Desegregating American Literary Studies (Rutgers Univ. Press, 1996).

Research Interests

American studies, 19th-century urban writing, 19th-century American women's writing (especially Margaret Fuller and Emily Dickinson), representations of race in literature and advertising; cultural studies, theories of space, material culture.

Work in Progress

I am currently working on two book projects: 1) on spatial paradigms and urban consciousness in antebellum New York writers, and 2) on representations of race in late 19th-century American literature and advertising.


I regularly teach courses on 19th-century American women's writing, the American Renaissance, and the history of American poetry.  Recently, I have developed a new course "Writing the City: 19th-century New York."


Recent Books

  • Transfiguring America: Myth, Ideology, and Mourning in Margaret Fuller's Writing

    Jeffrey Steele

    University of Missouri Press


    Transfiguring America is the product of more than ten years of research and numerous published articles on Margaret Fuller, arguably America's first feminist theorist and one of the most important woman writers in the nineteenth century. Focusing on Fuller's development of a powerful language that paired cultural critique with mythmaking, Steele shows why her writing had such a vital impact on the woman's rights movement and modern conceptions of gender.

  • The Essential Margaret Fuller

    Jeffrey Steele, Ed.

    Rutgers University Press


    The leading feminist intellectual of her day, Margaret Fuller has been remembered for her groundbreaking work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, which recharted the gender roles of nineteenth-century men and women. In this new collection, the full range of her literary career is represented from her earliest poetry to her final dispatch from revolutionary Italy.

  • The Representation of Self in the American Renaissance

    Jeffrey Steele

    University of North Carolina Press


    "The most thorough and wide-ranging examination we have of the major writing of the period of the American Renaissance in the light of modern psychological theory and criticism. An important book." Robert D. Richardson, Jr. University of Denver