Thursday, November 5, 2009

Professor of English receives esteemed Chawton House Fellowship

This spring, Pamela Corpron Parker, '81, professor of English and department chair at Whitworth, will travel to the village in England where Jane Austen wrote several of her celebrated works, thanks to the Chawton House Fellowship she received recently.

The highly-competitive fellowship for British literature scholars will allow Parker to live onsite in Hampshire, England, while she works in the Chawton House Library on her book about British women writers. She will conduct research in Chawton’s British women writers’ special archive. The archive has many materials of first editions and biographical critical materials, specializing in 18th- and 19th-century British women writers.

"As the president of the British Women Writers’ Association, I am very pleased to be able to go and look at this new resource, and to be able to recommend it to other scholars and younger graduate students," Parker says. "It’s an honor to be invited."

Scholars from around the globe compete for the fellowship and a chance to stay at the Chawton House, where they have access to some of the greatest resources of British literary culture. Horse stables on the grounds were converted into apartments for scholars to stay in during their visit, and Parker says she’s looking forward to living in community with the scholars she’ll be working alongside when she stays there in April. The Chawton House is about an hour outside of London.

According to the Chawton House website, the aim of the fellowship is to enable individuals to undertake significant research on the 18th century and projects that focus on women's writing or lives during the period. Fellows are invited to present their work in progress at a seminar during their time at Chawton, and to participate in events organized by the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

In 1991, Parker co-founded the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers Association (BWWA), and currently serves as the organization’s president and chairperson of the board. Last year she received the BWWA’s inaugural Award for Contributions to the Study of British Women Writers.

Parker's recent publications include "Elizabeth Gaskell's Autograph Collections and the Victorian Cult of Personality" in Women and Things: Gendered Material Practices, 1750-1950 (Ashgate, 2009), and "Locating Elizabeth Gaskell: Literary Tourism and Cranford" in Literary Tourism and Nineteenth Century Culture (Palgrave, 2008).

Parker holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon, master's degrees from Middlebury College and Eastern Washington University, and a bachelor's degree from Whitworth. She was the recipient of a 2007-2008 Armstrong Browning Fellowship at Baylor University, where, during Jan Term 2009, she conducted research on Elizabeth Barrett Browning for a forthcoming book, Literary Tourism and the Victorian Woman of Letters. The book will focus on how visiting the homes of female writers contributes to the way in which we imagine the authors. In August, Parker will present a lecture at the John Rylands Library at Manchester University, in Manchester, England, as part of their Elizabeth Gaskell Bicentenary Celebration.

Chawton House Library is an independent research library and study center that focuses on women's writing in English from 1600 to 1830. Accommodated in the Elizabethan manor house that once belonged to Jane Austen's brother, in the village of Chawton, in Hampshire, the library's main aim is to promote and facilitate study in the field of early women's writing.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,700 students, offers 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Pamela Corpron Parker, professor of English and department chair, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4204 or pamelaparker@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.