Assistant Professor of English
Ph.D. Cornell University
M.A. Cornell University
B.A. Brown University
Sarah Eron completed her graduate training at Cornell University where she specialized in the literature, culture, and philosophy of the long eighteenth century (1660-1815). Within this period, her research interests extend to the areas of aesthetic theory, religious philosophy, Romanticism, gender studies, Milton, and new formalism. More specifically, her research seeks to redefine such philosophical categories as “romanticism,” “enthusiasm, “secularization,” and “genius” within eighteenth-century thought.
Sarah is currently completing a book project, entitled Inspiration in the Age of Enlightenment, in which she argues that secularization occurs prior to Romanticism in the precursory stages of the Enlightenment with the phenomenon of secular enthusiasm in literature. “Secular enthusiasm” points to an early eighteenth-century effort to aestheticize inspiration, a formerly theological category. By examining rhetorical paradigms of invocation in the works of John Milton, The Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, and Anna Letitia Barbauld, Sarah argues that these writers formally revise inspiration in a way that generates a new and distinctive representation of the author. They reformulate the passive structure of ancient invocation by subjecting it to the more dialogical methods of modern apostrophe and address. In this context, inspiration becomes a secular gesture, an apostrophe to a friend or judging spectator, or at times an allusion to the mental or aesthetic faculties of the author himself-his genius. Seeking to redefine what we mean by secularization in the early stages of the modern period, Sarah argues that secularization’s link to enthusiasm, or inspiration, often associated with Romanticism, is, in fact, an early eighteenth-century development, a change that alters both literary form and the relationship of Romanticism and the Enlightenment to the categories of the secular and the sacred.Sarah has published articles in a number of journals and online publications on issues of religion and aesthetics, time and form, gender and genre, secularization, and Romanticism. Her publications engage the works of a variety of authors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century poetry, prose, and philosophy, including: Henry Fielding, William Blake, David Hume, Adam Smith, and A.C. Swinburne. Her most recent work is scheduled to appear in such publications as Eighteenth-Century Novel and Blake, An Illustrated Quarterly. Sarah is an affiliated member of the Modern Language Association, the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Northeast American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the North American Society for Studies in Romanticism. At URI, she will offer courses on the eighteenth-century novel, satire, eighteenth-century aesthetic theory, eighteenth-century women writers, and on Restoration drama and philosophies of theater.