William Huntting Howell


Assistant Professor of English

AB, Cornell University
PhD, Northwestern University

Room 231
For CV click here

My research and teaching is organized around American literature and culture before the Civil War—especially the first fifty years of the US republic.  I have particular interests in the novel, the essay, and in the relationship between the literary arts and the stuff of popular and material culture.  I’m currently finishing a book on imitation and emulation that works to show the enduring importance of the derivative at the moment of American independence.  My next project considers the ideological operations of print ephemera—broadsides, subscription forms, libels, handbills—from the Stamp Act to the abolitionist movement.  With Megan Walsh (St. Bonaventure University), I am also working on an edition of Frank J. Webb’s The Garies and Their Friends (1857) for Broadview Press.  Essays of mine have appeared in American Literature, The William & Mary Quarterly, Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Studies, and Common-place, among others.

The comparative and interdisciplinary approaches I take in my research extend into the classroom. In every course I teach, I ask students to consider the ways in which apparently extra-literary materials—songs, samplers, ceramics, paintings—can help us understand literary works and the cultures that generated them.  Since arriving at BU in 2009, I’ve taught courses on the American Revolution in historical memory, on the Enlightenment in America, on American Novel to 1900, on American Poetry to 1860, and on representations of the city of Boston.

Selected Publications
  • Against Self Reliance: The Arts of Dependence in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015)
  • “Deep Background: The Walking Dead,” (Avidly/LA Review of Books, October 30, 2013)
  • “In the Realms of Sensibility,” American Literary History 25.2 (Summer 2013): 406-417
  • “Entering the Lists: The Politics of Ephemera in Eastern Massachusetts, 1774,” Early American Studies 9.1 (Winter 2011): 187-217
  • Starving Memory: Joseph Plumb Martin Un-tells the Story of the American Revolution,” Common-place 10.2  (January 2010)
  • “Read, Pause, and Reflect!!” Journal of the Early Republic 30.2 (Summer 2010): 293-300
  • “Spirits of Emulation: Readers, Samplers, and the Republican Girl, 1787-1810,” American Literature 81.3 (September 2009): 497-526
  • “A More Perfect Copy: David Rittenhouse and the Reproduction of Republican Virtue,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, Vol. LXIV, No. 4 (October 2007): 757-79
Work in Progress
  • With Megan E. Walsh, an edition of Frank J. Webb, The Garies and their Friends (Broadview Press, 2015)
  • Of An Age: Occasional Writing and the American Revolution
Honors, Grants, and Awards
  • NeMLA Research Fellowship (joint with Megan E. Walsh), American Antiquarian Society (2013)
  • Mellon postdoctoral fellowship, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2006–2008)
  • Winterthur Fellowship, Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library (2004)
  • John C. Slater Fellowship, American Philosophical Society (2004)


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