Vesna Kuiken

Vesna Kuiken

Full Time Lecturer
Department of English

PhD, Columbia University   

Vesna Kuiken

Professor Kuiken's expertise and research interests include long Nineteenth-Century American literature, early American literature, ecocriticism, post- and trans-humanism, regionalism, theories of democracy and utopia, and Nineteenth-Century European literature. She is currently completing a book, Islandic Life: Archipelagic Ontologies in American Literature, which uncovers a countercurrent in nineteenth-century American literature and shows how a recourse to archipelagic environmental structures enabled the period’s women writers to revise existing concepts of nature and (gender) politics. Kuiken’s work has appeared in the collection of essays American Impersonal: Essays with Sharon Cameron (Bloomsbury, 2014), J19, The Henry James Review, Arizona Quarterly, and Nineteenth-Century Prose. Her essay “1884: The Princess Casamassima, Anarchy, and James's Materialist Poetics” is the recipient of the Leon Edel Prize for the best essay on Henry James in 2016. She is co-editing, with Branka Arsić, a collection of essays on Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy of the vegetal.

Edited Collection

- Dispersion: Thoreau and Vegetal Thought, with Branka Arsić (forthcoming, Bloomsbury Press, 2020)



1. “Chance Encounters: Thoreau’s Pomontology in ‘Wild Apples,’” in Dispersion: Thoreau and Vegetal Thought, eds. Branka Arsić and Vesna Kuiken (New York: Bloomsbury, 2020, forthcoming)

2. “Foreign Before ‘The Foreigner’: Caribbean Fetishes, Zombi, and Jewett’s Conjure Aesthetics” Special issue on women and medicine in nineteenth-century American literature, Arizona Quarterly, 74.4 (2018): 115-144.

3. “Idiorrhythmic Regionality, or How to Live Together in Jewett’s Country of the Pointed Firs,” Arizona Quarterly, 74.3 (2018): 87-118.

4. “1884: The Princess Casamassima, Anarchy, and Henry James’s Materialist Poetics,” The Henry James Review 38.2 (2017): 113-133, recipient of the 2016 Leon Edel Prize.

5. “‘Fit to Be Free’: From Race to Capacity in Jewett's ‘The Mistress of Sydenham Plantation,’” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 5.2 (2017): 239-266.

6. “The Impersonal Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Problem of Biography,” Nineteenth-Century Prose 42.1 (2015): 95-112.

7. “On the Matter of Thinking: Margaret Fuller’s Beautiful Work,” in American Impersonal, ed. Branka Arsić (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 99-129.


In Progress

- “Between Rock and Fish: Enchanted Isles in Celia Thaxter and Herman Melville,” invited contribution for the collection Speculative Materialisms in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Renée Bergland, Christian Haines, and Mark Noble

- “Submarine Histories: Stowe’s Cuban Communities”


Awards and Academic Honors

- Council on Research Award, SUNY-Albany, 2018

- The Leon Edel Prize for the best essay on Henry James, 2017

- Bunner Award for the best Americanist MA thesis, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, 2008

- Marjorie Hope Nicolson Fellowship, Columbia University, 2007-2014


Fellowships and Grants

- Maine Women Writers Collection Research Support Grant, Josephine S. Abplanalp Library, University of New England, 2020

- Individual Development Award, Program of the New York State/United University Professions Professional Development Committee, 2017/18, 2018/19

- Conference Support Award, CAS Dean, SUNY-Albany, 2018

- Dissertation Fellowship, Columbia University, 2012-2013

- Mellon Summer Research Fellowship, Columbia University, 2009, 2012, 2013

- Global Supplementary Grant, Open Society Institute, 2010-2011


UAlbany Courses

- ENG 413Y: Eco-Poetics: Nature Writing in the Americas (senior seminar on nature writing)

- ENG 210: Thinking Through Concepts (introduction to critical approaches to literature)

- ENG 226: Nature Writing: Natural Histories of the Americas—Bartram to Hurston (study in literary genre)

- ENG 261: America’s Literary Environments: 1620-1920 (survey of American Literature)

- ENG 310: Ecocriticism (literary theory)

- ENG 310: Posthumanisms (literary theory)

- ENG 295: Away from Home from Homer to Kafka (Classics of Western Literature)


Professional Service

- Reviewer for Textual Practice and Arizona Quarterly

- Interdisciplinary symposium Anthropocene Now! Ecology, Ethic, Politics, SUNY-Albany, organizer: (2018)

- 19th-Century Reading Group, Columbia University, co-organizer (2013-2014)

- The American Studies conference Rethinking Land and Language: Dialogues in Early American and Indigenous Studies Columbia University, co-organizer (2013)

- Columbia University Seminar in American Studies, organizer and rapporteur (2012-2014)