Meredith L. McGill is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University, where she teaches American literature, book history and media history, and transatlantic approaches to the study of nineteenth-century literature and culture. She organized the 2002 conference that catalyzed the Historical Poetics working group, and edited a volume of essays from that conference: The Traffic in Poems: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Transatlantic Exchange (Rutgers University Press, 2008). She takes a stab at defining historical poetics in a recent response to an essay by Stephen Burt in American Literary History, but mostly writes about the relations between and among literary form, print formats, and media history. She is interested in putting poetic theory and media theory into dialogue with one another, and often finds herself explaining book history to poetry scholars, and poetics to book historians. In addition to essays on the poetry of Henry David Thoreau, Frances E.W. Harper, and Walt Whitman, she has published a survey essay on “The Poetry of Slavery,” stretching from the eighteenth century to the present day, and a dialogue with some of her graduate students on the challenges that attend writing transatlantic histories of poetic genre. She is completing a book on the rise of mass print as an event in the history of poetry, focusing on poetry published in the United States between 1820 and 1860.



  • “What is a Ballad? Reading for Genre, Format, and Medium,” forthcoming in Nineteenth-Century Literature, 70:2 (September 2016).
  • “The Poetry of Slavery,” in Ezra Tawil, ed. Cambridge Companion to Slavery in American Literature (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 115-136.
  • “Genre and Nationality in Nineteenth-Century British and American Poetry,” with Scott Challener, Isaac Cowell, Bakary Diaby, Lauren Kimball, Michael Monescalchi, and Melissa Parrish, in Teaching Transatlanticism, Linda Hughes and Sarah Robbins, eds. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 164-180.
  • “Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and the Circuits of Abolitionist Poetry,” in Lara Langer Cohen and Jordan Stein, eds., Early African American Print Culture. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 53-74.
  • “Walt Whitman and the Poetics of Reprinting,” in David Blake and Michael Robertson eds., Where the Future Becomes Present: Whitman and Leaves of Grass. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2008), 37-58.
  • Introduction, The Traffic in Poems: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Transatlantic Exchange (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 1-12.  
  • “Common Places: Poetry, Illocality, and Temporal Dislocation in Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers,” in American Literary History (Spring 2007) 357-74.