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Claudia Stokes specializes in nineteenth-century American literature. She is the author of several books and numerous articles. Her first book, Writers in Retrospect: The Rise of American Literary History, 1875–1910 (University of North Carolina Press, 2006), traces the steps by which American literary history became a formal academic field of study and examines the origins of numerous enduring disciplinary tenets. Her second book, The Altar at Home: Sentimental Literature and Nineteenth-Century American Religion (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), examines the religious contexts and contents of nineteenth-century American sentimental literature, showing how such writers as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott actively enlisted and promoted numerous controversial new doctrines; in addition, this book illustrates how sentimental literature significantly influenced several new American religions such as Mormonism and Christian Science. The Altar at Home received Honorable Mention for the Book Prize awarded triennially by the Society for the Study of American Women Writers.
She is also co-editor, with Michael A. Elliott, of American Literary Studies: A Methodological Reader (New York University Press, 2003), which examines the impact of interdisciplinarity on the study of American literature. She has received grants and fellowships from the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, Harvard's Houghton Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
She is currently writing a new book, “Things That Last: Literary Unoriginality in Nineteenth-Century America,” which examines familiarity and unoriginality in nineteenth-century American literature. An essay taken from that book project, “The Poetics of Unoriginality: The Case of Lucretia Davidson,” was awarded the Florence Howe Award for feminist scholarship given by the Women’s Caucus of Modern Languages. She was recently elected to the Executive Committee of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists and is the organization’s Director of Communications. She is also an elected officer of the American Literature Society. In 2018, she received Trinity University's highest award, the Dr. and Mrs. Z. T. Scott Faculty Fellowship for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching and Advising. Her essay "Novel Commonplaces: Quotation, Epigraphs, and Literary Authority," published in American Literary History, was awarded the 1921 Prize for best essay in American literature (tenured category), given in 2018 by the American Literature Society.