This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
An assistant professor of English at Harvard University, Lynn Festa specializes in eighteenth-century French and English literature. Her work draws together seemingly incongruous texts—literary and historical, sentimental and rationalist, familial and imperial—in order to challenge our understanding of the eighteenth century as the age of reason and enlightenment.
Festa will use her fellowship year to complete a book on the relationship between the sentimental novel and European global expansion. She will examine how the sentimental novel, with its emphasis on domesticity, women, and the feeling self, is linked to Enlightenment discussions of human rights, political autonomy, and proprietary individualism both at home and abroad. In arguing that sentimentality created and upheld distinctions between European and “other,” Festa explores how eighteenth-century writers used feeling to define who would count as human.
Festa earned her PhD in comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where her academic honors included Mellon, William Penn, and Women’s Studies dean’s fellowships. In addition to her Radcliffe Institute fellowship, Festa has received a Huntington Library grant for summer 2003.