Visiting Associate Professor of English, New York University.
Paula McDowell specializes in eighteenth-century British literature and cultural history and the history of the book. She is the author of The Women of Grub Street: Press, Politics and Gender in the London Literary Marketplace 1678-1730 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), Elinor James: Printed Writings (Ashgate, 2005), and numerous articles including “Defoe and the Contagion of the Oral: Modeling Media Shift in A Journal of the Plague Year, PMLA 121: 1 (Jan. 2006), 87-106, and “Why Fanny Can’t Write: Joseph Andrews and the (Ir)relevance of Literacy” in The Blackwell Companion to the Eighteenth-Century English Novel, ed. Paula R. Backscheider and Catherine Ingrassia (Blackwell, 2005), 167-90. She is currently writing a book titled Print Culture and the Idea of Oral Tradition in Eighteenth-Century Britain, which argues that the earliest positive efforts to theorize “oral tradition” and to model popular oral practices as a “culture” (rather than a lack of culture) were prompted less by any proto-democratic impulse than by a profound discomfort with new cultures of reading, writing, and even speaking shaped by print. Her next book will be a study of John “Orator” Henley and the origins of public political debating societies and commercialized oratory in Britain.
Professor McDowell received her B.A. from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. She has also taught at the University of Maryland, College Park and at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.