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Toni Bowers

Toni Bowers

Professor of English


Curriculum Vitae

Fisher-Bennett Hall 239

Office Hours

fall 2020

Fall 2020:  Virtual office hours for current students at their convenience. Contact me by email to arrange a Zoom or phone appointment.


Toni Bowers (Professor) specializes in British literature and culture from Charles II’s restoration in 1660 to the French Revolution, on early-modern poetry and prose fiction from England and Scotland, and on the implications of silent film and pantomime for the claims of representational language. In all her work, Professor Bowers is interested in how imaginative writing shapes public and private distributions of power and significance.  Her overall concern is with how language works to create and solidify social hierarchies, and what alternatives exist to, and within, that process.   Professor Bowers is convinced that popular cultural and entertainment reveal and foster ideological agendas.

In addition to dozens of essays in scholarly journals and collections, Bowers is the author of two book of literary history:   Force or Fraud: British Seduction Stories and the Problem of Resistance, 1660-1760, (Oxford University Press, 2011), and The Politics of Motherhood: British Writing and Culture, 1660-1760 (Cambridge University Press, 1996). She has also produced distinguished editons and scholarly collections. With John Richetti (Penn, Emeritus), she co-edited an abridgement of Samuel Richardson's 1747-48 masterpiece Clarissa (Broadview Press, 2010); this edition is now in frequent use in undergraduate and graduate classrooms worldwide. And with Professor Tita Chico (Maryland) she has edited a volume of scholarly essays titled Atlantic Worlds in the Long Eighteenth Century: Seduction and Sentiment  (Palgrave: 2012). She has been granted permission by the literary heirs of two previously unknown Chaplin memoirs to edit and publish those previously unknown works. With Prof. Albert Rivero of Marquette University, she is editing the first complete edition in nearly a century of Richardson's Pamela (v. 1-4); that edition is under contract with Broadview Press. She is co-editing a book on the artistry of Michael Jackson, and she is working on a monograph that traces how a particular set of metaphors was used in public debate to shape the creation of "Great Britain" between 1603 and 1707 (with implications for understanding the imaginative work that goes into creating nation states and national identity). For more of Dr. Bowers's publications, see here.

Toni Bowers regularly presents her scholarship across the United States and has lectured by invitation in Canada, England, Finland, France, the Netherlands, and Scotland.In 2018, she was MacLain Distinguished Professor at Colorado College.  In addition to her undergraduate teaching -- in her view, the most important work she does -- Bowers directs and advises doctoral dissertations at Penn and at other institutions around the world, supervises  independent studies at both the undergraduate and graduate leves, and serves on committees at Penn for the English Department, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the larger University. Dr. Bowers co-founded Penn’s Atlantic Studies Seminar, was a year-long Visiting Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and for many years served as Faculty-in-Residence at Kings Court-English House College House, where she founded the undergraduate humanities society Perspectives in Humanities and inaugurated the Penn Authors' Forum. In She has been the recipient of a number of national and international fellowships and awards, including from the NEH, the British Academy, the Newberry Library, the Huntington Library, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and the Harry Ransom Center.

Toni Bowers is a member of the Steering Committee and a Core Faculty Member for Penn's Gender Studies program (GSWS). She served for many years on the Advisory Board to the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. She works as editorial consultant for a number of academic journals and publishing houses, has served as both Delegate and member of the Executive Committee of the Delegates for the ACLS (American Council for Learned Societies). She has served as a Delegate for the Modern Language Association as well as on its Executive Committee for Restoration and Early Eighteenth-Century Studies and on its Executive Committee for Scottish Literature. She received the Ph.D. from Stanford.


Articles and Book Chapters

"'The Abdicated Family': Hume's Partisan Grammar in 'Of the Protestant Succession'" Restoration: Study in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700 (2015)
"Dancing with Michael Jackson" Los Angeles Review of Books (2015)

Doctoral Dissertations Chaired


Alice Tweedy McGrath "Patchwork Fictions: Imagining Intimacy Beyond the Marriage Plot"


Alyssa Connell " Paper Kingdom: Travel Literature, Chorography, and the Writing of Britain, 1660-1770"


David Alff "British Writing and the Culture of Projection: 1660–1790"


Juliet Shields "Engendering Great Britain: Literary Representations of Anglo-Scottish Relations, 1700-1730"


Brett Wilson "Maudlin Whigs: Gender, Feeling, and Party on the British Stage, 1688-1746"

Courses Taught

spring 2021

ENGL 069.001 Studies in Lyric Poetry  
ENGL 090.401 Sexuality and Power  

fall 2020

ENGL 090.401 Writing Women: 1660 to 1760  

fall 2019

fall 2018

ENGL 545.301 Eighteenth-Century Novels  

summer 2018

spring 2018

ENGL 060.001 Early British Novels  
ENGL 345.301 Epistolary Fiction  

fall 2017

spring 2017

ENGL 047.001 Scottish Literature canceled  

fall 2016

ENGL 345.401 Epistolary Fiction  
ENGL 544.401 Richardson canceled  

spring 2016

ENGL 245.401 The Pamela Craze  

fall 2015

ENGL 047.001 Scottish Literature  
ENGL 345.301 British Epistolary Fiction  

spring 2015

ENGL 345.301 British Epistolary Fiction  

spring 2014

ENGL 341.301 Pamela Craze  

spring 2012

ENGL 090.401 Writing Women: 1660-1800  

fall 2011

ENGL 045.001 18th Century British Novel  
ENGL 390.401 Sexuality and Power  

spring 2011

ENGL 345.301 Richardson and Epistolarity  

fall 2010

ENGL 730.401 Epistolary Fiction  

spring 2010

ENGL 045.401 18th-Century Novel  
ENGL 341.401 The Pamela Craze  

fall 2009

ENGL 090.401 Writing Women, 1660-1800  

spring 2009

ENGL 245.401 Epistolary Fiction  

fall 2008

spring 2008

fall 2007

ENGL 045.001 Eighteenth Century Novel  
ENGL 553.401 18th Century Women Writers  

spring 2006

ENGL 540.401 Seduction and Literature  

fall 2005

ENGL 045.001 18th Century Novel  

spring 2005

ENGL 345.401 The Pamela Controversy  
ENGL 553.401 Writing Women, 1660-1760  

fall 2003

ENGL 016.302 Ways of Reading canceled  
ENGL 045.001 18th Century Novel canceled  

spring 2002

fall 2001

ENGL 544.401 Richardson  

spring 2001

ENGL 045.001 18th Century Novel  
ENGL 553.401 Writing Women 1660-1760  

fall 2000

ENGL 800.301 Teaching of Literature  

spring 1999

ENGL 100.401 Intro. To Literary Study  

fall 1998

fall 1997

ENGL 203.001 Major British Novel  
ENGL 299.314 Independent Study  
ENGL 343.401 Seduction in Literature  

spring 1997

ENGL 100.001 Intro to Literary Study  

fall 1996

ENGL 045.001 18th Century Novel  
ENGL 090.401 Women and Literature  

spring 1995

fall 1994

ENGL 045.001 The 18th-Century Novel