Phyllis Cole received her B.A. in English from Oberlin College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Harvard University. Dr. Cole’s fields of specialization include American Transcendentalism and nineteenth-century American women writers. Her book Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History (Oxford UP, 1998) was named Finalist (second place) for the James Russell Lowell Prize of the Modern Language Association. She is a past President of the national Ralph Waldo Emerson Society and current Vice-President of the Margaret Fuller Society. In 2011-12 she holds a Fellowship at the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute to work on two projects concerning the history of women and Transcendentalism.
Dr. Cole has also been active in mobilizing students to study the cultures of our region and world. Local investigations range from nearby Cumberland Cemetery and Tyler Arboretum to the campus founding in 1967; global projects have resulted in fund-raising to meet the needs of women and families in Afghanistan. She serves as Coordinator of the American Studies and Women’s Studies Programs and has recently led the initiative to develop Undergraduate Research in all campus programs.
Media inquiries on nineteenth-century literature, women’s history, and local Pennsylvania lore are welcome.
Recent Publications and Presentations
“The New Movement’s Tide: Emerson and Women’s Rights.” Emerson Bicentennial Essays. Ed. Joel Myerson and Ronald Bosco. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2006.
“Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Transatlantic Dialogue.” Transatlanticism in American Literature Conference, Oxford University, 2006.
Editor, The First Ten Years: Conversations about Penn State Delaware County, 1967-77. Media, PA, 2008. Based on interviews of early students by honors freshmen.
“Marriage and Metaphysics: From Margaret Fuller to Louisa May Alcott.” American Literature Association, 2008.
“Teaching Gender in Emerson’s Essays.” American Literature Association, 2009.
"Woman's Rights and Feminism." The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism, ed. Joel Myerson, Sandra Petrulionis, and Laura Walls. New York: Oxford UP, 2010.
Co-editor with Jana Argersinger, “Exaltadas: A Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism,” special issue of ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 2011.
“Local History: From Tyler Arboretum to Delaware County to the Nation.” Lecture to various Delaware County audiences 2007-2011, building on research with students.
“Fuller’s Lawsuit and Feminist History.” Margaret Fuller and Her Circles. Ed. Brigitte Bailey and Conrad Wright. Boston: UP of New England, forthcoming 2012.