Anna Gibson works on the literature and culture of the long nineteenth century, with a focus on the Victorian novel and its relationship to cultural and social life. She is interested in narrative form, especially how it has shaped psychological and cultural theories of human identity and relationships. Her current book project, Forming People, considers the role of the novel form in the development of modern psychology. This work on form is also at the center of Dr. Gibson’s work on the Digital Dickens Notes Project, which explores Charles Dickens’s working notes to demonstrate the serial unfolding of his novels and the dynamic networks of interaction between characters and readers–and between notes and novel–they facilitate. A second book project will examine how Victorian serial writers reconfigured our understanding of the relationship between narrative and time and the associations between storytelling and contemporaneity.
Teaching and Research Interests
- victorian literature
- nineteenth-century british fiction
- british literature from 1800
- narrative form and formalism
- novel theory
- history of psychology
- visual culture
- critical theory
- digital humanities
In addition to teaching in the English department, I am the Coordinator of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences first-year interdisciplinary inquiry class, HSS 120. This course introduces first-semester NCSU undergraduates to the intellectual life and variety in our College by examining a central topic, engaging with faculty from various humanities and social science disciplines, and orienting students to opportunities and resources across the college and university to prepare them for fulfulling and successful academic careers.
- Digital Dickens Notes Project (Digital Project): The DDNP is digitizing and exploring Charles Dickens’s Working Notes–pages on which he recorded ideas, plans, and memoranda while he was writing–in order to reveal how his novels developed during their serial composition. By presenting color digitizations and transcriptions of these manuscripts in interaction with the novels to which they refer, the DDNP will interpret the Notes as laboratories of experimentation rather than mere blueprints for the novels. Co-directed with Dr. Adam Grener, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.
- Forming People: Psychology and Victorian Novel Form (book project): Argues that the literary form of the novel in the Victorian era played a vital role in the development of modern human psychology. Reading canonical and popular novels alongside scientific and psychological writing about the mind and body from the 1840s to 1890s, Forming People shows how novels by writers such as Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot intervened in debates about the nature of mind. They did so not merely by referencing new psychological theories in their content, but by representing, enacting, and experimenting with the experience of human consciousness in ways that were not possible in scientific writing.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
- “Charlotte Brontë’s First Person.” Narrative 25.2 (2017): 203-226. (Honorable Mention, Donald Gray Prize for Best Essay in Victorian Studies published in 2017)
- “Our Mutual Friend and Network Form.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 48.1 (2015): 63-84.
- Review of The Outward Mind: Materialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature by Benjamin Morgan. Novel: A Forum on Fiction (forthcoming, 2018).
- “Passenger Networks.” Review of Charles Dickens’s Networks: Public Transport and the Novel by Jonathan H. Grossman. Novel: A Forum on Fiction 46:3 (fall 2013): 478-482.
- Invited plenary speaker, “Dickens’s Notes and Serial Formation,” Interdisciplinarity and Seriality Panel, Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies Conference, March 2018
- “Digital Dickens Notes: Form and Formation,” Duquesne University Series on Digital Humanities in the 21st Century, March 2017.
- “Pattern and Process: Charles Dickens’s Working Notes and Serial Form,” University of Pittsburgh Department of English, December 2016
- Skype visit to Dr. Rachel Buurma’s Victorian Research Seminar at Swarthmore College: lecture and discussion of Charles Dickens’s working notes and the Digital Dickens Notes Project, March 2016.
- “The Digital Dickens Notes Project,” Digital Humanities Sandbox Chat Series, Duke University, March 2015.
Selected Conference Presentations
- “Story-Weaving: The Work of Dickens’s Serial Narrative,” North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA) Conference, Ohio State University, October 2019.
- “Reading Dickens’s Notes.” Victorians Institute Conference, Asheville, NC, November 2018
- “Form and Life: The Strategy and Tactics of Victorian Novel Form.” NAVSA, University of Florida, FL, October 2018
- “Carry Through, Take Up, Hold Over: Choreographing Characters in Dickens’s Working Notes,” NAVSA, Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada, November 2017.
- “Uncontainable Bodies: Forming Texts and Selves from Frankenstein to Dracula,” Interdisciplinary nineteenth-Century Studies Conference (INCS), Muhlenberg College, PA, March 2017
- “George Eliot’s Social Psychology: Objectivity, Subjectivity, and Narrative,” North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA) Conference, Arizona State University, November 2016.
- “’That incongruous compound’: Francis Galton’s Composites and Fin de Siècle Novel Form,” Victorians Institute Conference, North Carolina State University, October 2016.
- Seminar organizer and presenter: “Serial Forms” seminar. Paper: “How We Read Novel Form: Victorian Seriality, Form, and Formation,” American Comparative Literature Conference (ACLA), Harvard University, March 2016.
- “Forming Towards Form in the Victorian Novel,” Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies Conference (INCS), Appalachian State University, March 2016.
- “Dickens’s Serial Formation,” Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies Conference, Georgia Institute of Technology, April 2015.
- “Pattern and Process: Seriality in Dickens’s Working Notes and the Digital Dickens Notes Project,” North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, Western University, Canada, November 2014.
- “Sensation, Science, and (Un)Predictable People.” North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, University of Southern California, October 2013 (NAVSA Best Graduate Paper Prize)
- “’A sensation, for which I can find no name’: Detection and Sensation in Victorian Fiction.” 2013 International Conference on Narrative, University of Manchester, June 2013
- “’A continuous net-work of variable forms’: Dickens, Lewes, and Dynamic Form.” North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, University of Wisconsin-Madison, September 2012
- “Dracula and the Form of the Person.” American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Brown University, March-April 2012
- “Detection and Sensation: Francis Galton, Wilkie Collins, and the Forms of Personal Identity.” Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies Conference, University of Kentucky, March 2012
- “Bodies Acting Out: Physiology, Narrative, and the Sensation Novel.” North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, Vanderbilt University, November 2011
- “’We can hardly put ourselves in the position of these savages’: Kinship, Sympathy, and Difference in
- Darwinian Fictions.” North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, Montreal, November 2010.
- “Reading Kinship Backwards: Victorian Anthropology, the Family, and Containing/Rejecting the Past. British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS)/North American Victorian Studies Association Joint Conference, Cambridge University, August 2009
Ph.D. English Duke University 2014
M.A. English Exeter University 2006