Abigail Heiniger

Assistant Professor of English, Faculty President-elect


Ph.D., English Literature, Nineteenth-Century, Transatlantic. Wayne State University, 2013
M.A., English Literature, Nineteenth-Century, University of Louisville, 2009
M.A., Humanities, Literature and Art History, University of Louisville, 2008
B.A., Summa Cum Laude, double major Honors English and Humanities, University of Louisville, 2007


My research has consistently explored the intersection of fairy-tale expectations with constructions of racial and national identity in literature by and about women on both sides of the Atlantic. And I deliberately embrace wonder as a teaching tool in the classroom. For example, to peak student interest in the intersection of literature and material culture, I wear authentic nineteenth-century women’s clothing in British and American survey courses. Paired with either the writing of Wollstonecraft or the dress reform fiction of Gilman, the clothes function as the starting point for discussions about the physical limitations enforced by women’s clothing. I also use the digital humanities to engage students’ curiosity. In Regional and Ethnic Literature, I guide students through online databases such as The Making of America, enabling them to find virtual artifacts. Students pair these artifacts with primary texts in research papers. We analyze the ways in which both literature and material culture negotiate the gendered and racial expectations inherent in this national dream. To create interest in the History of English, I have students use online resources to identify their own regional dialects. Students’ discoveries about themselves are the basis for understanding the process of koinèization and recognition of English as a pluricentric language. Building material, cultural, and personal context for literary texts allows students to approach the art of the written word from a diverse range of perspectives.