Ellen M. Bayer, Ph.D.

American Literature
Purdue University
Purdue University
Northern Kentucky University

My research and teaching interests center on Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth- Century American literature and take an interdisciplinary approach. My current book project draws from Narrative Studies to establish a new theorhetical framework for analyzing the representation and function of impressions in literature. While much of my previous work examined intersections between literature and the arts, my research agenda has shifted toward ecocriticism and environmental literature. One such project on Poe's landscape tales serves to bridge the gap between earlier work in aesthetics and a new area of inquiry into environment and ecology. My research and teaching inform each other, and this interest in pedagogy has led to several conference papers on new approaches to teaching literature as well as a forthcoming publication in The Pocket Instructor: Literature.

Current Research

• "Influences on, and Implications of, Poe's Landscape Aesthetic." This project explores the ecological implications of nineteenth-century landscape aesthetics, as articulated in treatises on the subject as well as in Poe's fiction. It situates my work more clearly within the concerns of ecocriticism and will serve as the basis for my next book project. This essay is forthcoming from the Penn State University Press in the edited collection Influencing Poe.

• The Literary Impression: Narrative Strategy and the Ethics of Reading in Henry James and Kate Chopin: Departing from comparative analyses that have dominated the field, this book project, which is a substantially revised version of my dissertation, works to redefine literary impressionism through the lens of Narrative Studies. It will be the first book to consider what I term the literary impression as a narrative strategy unique to literature and will facilitate a new approach for understanding how literary narratives function.

• “A More Complete Ahab: Into the Darkness of Moby-Dick.” Forthcoming in Reconstructions 17.1 (2017). Co-authored with Andrea Modarres. This article traces representations of Melville’s Captain Ahab across popular culture, training its focus on the ways in which Ahab and his obsession for revenge has surfaced in the Star Trek universe. We argue that, with their more dynamic representation of Melville’s classic character, films such as The Wrath of Khan and Into Darkness present a more nuanced look at these themes that stays true to the complex layers of Moby-Dick.

• “'To Keep a Greater Truth': Reshaping History in Toni Morrison’s Margaret Garner.” Under consideration at The Journal of American Culture. This article investigates the cultural work of Morrison's 2005 libretto for the opera. The essay examines several instances in which Morrison’s libretto differs from the historical record in order to illustrate how these artistic choices interrogate and deepen Margaret Garner’s historical narrative and how they function within the context of the opera’s Mission Statement. Using information obtained through my interviews with several members of the three co-commissioning opera companies, I examine here some of the many community outreach programs designed in conjunction with Margaret Garner and posit that they fulfilled the opera’s mission by introducing the historical figure’s story to a new and larger audience and by generating meaningful dialogue about family, history and race in the participating communities.

Scholarly Interests

Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Literature; Environmental Litearture and Nature Writing; Place-Based Pedagogy and Literature; Litearture and the Arts; HumanAnimal Studies

View Ellen Bayer's content in our Experts Gallery


Academic Year 2015-2016


TLIT 210: Studies in American Literature
TLIT 437: Nature and Environment in American Literature


TLIT 305: American Literary Realism
TILT 306: Moby-Dick and the Arts


TLIT 311: American Literature of Place
TLIT 210: Studies in American Literature

Past Courses:

TLIT 200: Understanding Literature
TLIT 476: American Women's Literature: The Regionalists

Future Courses:

Introduction to Literature and Environment (proposing for 2016-2017)
Special Topics in Literature and Environment (proposing for 2016-2017)
Wilderness and the American Mind (proposing)
Ecocriticism (proposing)
The American Renaissance (TLIT 305)
The Literary Impressionists (TLIT 305)
Hawthorne and Melville (TLIT 306)
James and Chopin (TLIT 306)
Literature of Baseball (TLIT 311)   


Professional Affiliations

The Modern Language Association (MLA)
The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE)
The Society for Nineteenth-Century Americanists (C19)
The Society of Early Americanists (SEA)
The Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts (SLSA)
The College English Association (CEA)
The Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW)
The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML)
The Midwest Modern Language Association (MMLA)
The Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (RMMLA)
The Henry James Society
The Kate Chopin Society
The Poe Studies Association
The Thoreau Society
The Melville Society

Volunteer Work

Humane Society of Tacoma-Pierce County Community Cats Program

The Posse Foundation, Mentor for DP16 NYC

DePauw Campus Cat Allies      

Academic Service

Conference session chairs for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment; the Rocky Mountain MLA; and the Poe Studies Association
Book reviewer for the academic journal Humanimalia
Reader for the academic journal Sloth
Mentor for the Posse Foundation      

Honors and Awards

Teaching Awards

Purdue University Committee for the Education of Teaching Assistants Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, 2009

Purdue University Department of English Excellence in Teaching Award, 2007-2008

Purdue University Department of English Quintillion Award for Excellence as an Instructor: Spring 2008; Fall 2007; Spring 2007; Fall 2006

Academic Awards, Honors, and Grants

University of Washington Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Office Green Seed Grant, Faculty Participant, 2015

Amy Braddock Summer Research Award, Summer 2013

Mellon Environmental Studies Grant-Funded Stipend, Summer 2012

Susan Tane Travel Grant, Summer 2012     

Publication Date Bibliographic Citation

“A More Complete Ahab: Into the Darkness of Moby-Dick.” Forthcoming in Reconstructions 17.1 (2017). Co-authored with Andrea Modarres.


"Influences on, and Implications of, Poe's Landscape Aesthetic." Influencing Poe. Barbara Cantalupo and Richard Kopley, eds. Penn State UP, Forthcoming.


“Fishbowl.” Forthcoming in The Pocket Instructor: Literature. William Gleason and Diana Fuss, eds. Princeton UP, 2015.  


Henry James, Impressionism, and The Public, by Daniel Hannah. Review 19 (December 2013). 


Worm Work: Recasting Romanticism, by Janelle A. Schwartz (2012). In Humanimalia 5.1 (2013): 141-46. 


Lobster, by Richard J. King (2011) and Lobster: A Global History, by Elisabeth Townsend (2011). In Humanimalia 3.1 (2011): 101-07.  


Livestock/Deadstock, by Rhoda M. Wilkie (2010). In Humanimalia 2.2 (2011): 125-33.