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GGC professor named a Chawton House Library fellow

Special Photo Jessica Damian, an associate professor of English, is the first GGC faculty member to be named a Chawton House Library visiting fellow in the United Kingdom.

Special Photo Jessica Damian, an associate professor of English, is the first GGC faculty member to be named a Chawton House Library visiting fellow in the United Kingdom.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Georgia Gwinnett College can add another first to its list of accomplishments.

Jessica Damian, an associate professor of English, is the first GGC faculty member to be named a Chawton House Library visiting fellow in a partnership with the faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. She is one of 30 international visiting fellows to attend the month-long study this summer.

The Chawton House was home to Jane Austen's brother, Edward Knight, and a 400-year-old Elizabethan manor. The library is a registered charity that concentrates on education and heritage, and holds a unique collection of early women's writing from 1600 to 1830.

Damian said in a press release that she presented her research on Maria Edgeworth at the inaugural Chawton House Women's Writing in Britain when the library opened in 2003.

"One of my British Romanticism colleagues shared her positive experiences as a Chawton House Fellow a few years ago and encouraged me to apply," Damian said.

Damian said being with other scholars is at the core of the Fellowship experience, and all of the scholars are offered accommodations at the historic Chawton House, Reading Room space in the main library building and library rights at the University of Southampton.

"It's extraordinary to think that we live and work a brief five-minute walk from Jane Austen's former home," Damian said. "Having access to the collection of early women's writing ensures that we can delve into our research, examining texts and archival materials more closely. Being at Chawton House helps us place these works within their historical and literary contexts."

Damian said she plans to complete an article on women's travel writing in the 19th century with a focus on Chawton's Knight Collection, especially its books and letters on travel and expeditions. That would help reconstruct a literary history that considers the presence of the Americas in the 19th century, Damian said.

Damian said the fellowship research would bring digital copies of archival materials for GGC students, including images of watercolors and pencil sketches from British women travelers.

Damian holds a doctorate in English and a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Miami at Coral Gables, and a master's degree in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has served as a Wye Faculty Fellow with the Aspen Institute.