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Photo of Eliza Richards, taken by Sarah Boyd

Professor / Director of Graduate Studies

Ph.D.    English Language and Literature. University of Michigan, Aug. 1997.

M.A.    English Language and Literature. University of Michigan, Dec. 1990.

B.A.     English, with High Honors. Bates College, June 1984. Year abroad at Manchester College Oxford, 1982-83.

Attended the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, 1988-1989. Studied Brazilian and Portuguese

language, literature, and culture.


I study and teach American literature with a specialization in American poetry before 1900. I’m especially interested in the ways  historical events and changes in media networks shape and inform the ways people write poetry, as well as the ways poetry participates in cultural transformations. Poetry in the nineteenth century was a powerful social force, and I explore the relations among categories like “popular,” “experimental,” “conventional,” and “great.” My work broadens understanding and awareness of important nineteenth-century poetry written by women, African Americans, and popular writers. I have written about Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Adah Isaacs Menken, Frances Sargent Osgood, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Herman Melville, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and many others. My research has been recognized by distinguished fellowships, and my work with students on the graduate and undergraduate levels has been honored by teaching awards.


In progress: The Collected Works of George Moses Horton: A Critical Edition (under contract with UNC Press).


Battle Lines: Poetry and Mass Media in the US Civil War (U of Pennsylvania P, 2019).

Emily Dickinson in Context (edited collection; Cambridge UP, 2013).

Gender and the Poetics of Reception in Poe’s Circle (Cambridge UP, 2004).

Recent Essays:

“‘Success in Circuit Lies’: Dickinson, Media, and Imagination,” in The New Dickinson, ed. Michelle Kohler (Cambridge UP, 2019).

“Popular Networks in Melville’s Battle-Pieces,” in The New Melville, ed. Cody Marrs (Cambridge UP, 2019).

“‘Gorgeous Crime’: The Art of Violence in Women’s Civil War Poetry,” ESQ , ed. Faith Barrett, Elizabeth Petrino, and Paraic Finnerty. 64.2 (2018): 264-299.

Teaching Awards

  • 2015  Chapman Family Teaching Award. University-wide award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • 2013  Distinguished Teaching Award for Post-Baccalaureate Instruction, UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • 2011-2012 Graduate Student Mentoring Award, UNC-Chapel Hill. Given by the association of graduate students in English and Comparative Literature.
  • 2005-2006 Award for Excellence in Mentoring on the MA Level, UNC-Chapel Hill. Given by the Association of English Graduate Students.
  • 2001-2002 Gitner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Boston University. College-wide teaching award.


  • 2010-2011        Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Fellowship, National Humanities Center.
  • 2002-2003        American Antiquarian Society-National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.
  • 1994-1995        Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship. One-year dissertation research fellowship.

Courses Taught:

  • ENGL 125 Introduction to American Poetry
  • ENGL 151 Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • EMG: 218 American Poetry
  • ENGL 220 American Literature Before 1900
  • ENGL 221 American Literature 1900-2000
  • ENGL 239 Twentieth-Century British and American Poetry
  • ENGL 295 Undergraduate Research Seminar
  • Twentieth-Century American Poetry and Poetics Beyond “The Lyric”
  • American Poetry Before Modernism
  • American Archives Across the Civil War

Curriculum Vitae / Resume