PhD English, University of California, Berkeley
Current Position: Lecturer, Harvard Extension School and Senior Curriculum Specialist, Poetry in America
Gillian Osborne is a literary scholar whose research interests include American and Romantic literature, poetry and poetics, and the environmental humanities.
Gillian holds a BA in comparative literature from Columbia University (2006), and a PhD in English and American literature (2014) from the University of California, Berkeley. In her dissertation, she examined a poetics of the "inhuman" across genres in the American nineteenth-century, arguing that writers from Sampson Reed in the 1830s to Herman Melville in the 1890s relied on plant-life as a figure for literary form and aesthetic agency as permeable and bare. While at Berkeley, Gillian was a co-organizer (along with Angela Hume and Margaret Ronda) of a Conference on Ecopoetics, which brought together scholars, poets, and activists. In addition to scholarship on nineteenth-century American authors, Gillian has also published reviews and poetry in such places as The Boston Review, the Threepenny Review, and Volt.
As an Environmental Fellow, under the supervision of James Engell in the Department of English, Gillian investigated nature reading as a species of literary practice that does not necessarily result in nature writing, with close attention paid to works by Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Herman Melville, and Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, and to the aesthetics of nineteenth-century natural history.
James Engell, Department of English