Ashley Cross

Professor, English

The eldest of five, Ashley Cross grew up in Vermont where she attended public school. Although she began her college career at Swarthmore College as a math major, she graduated in 1986 with a major in English Literature and a Minor in Philosophy, receiving high honors in the Honors program. After working for one year in Philadelphia as a paralegal in a medical malpractice defense firm, she knew law was not for her. She returned to school to pursue her M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature, with a specialty in British Romanticism.  Her first college teaching position took her to Benedictine University in Illinois in 1993, where she developed a gender studies minor. After three years there and homesick for the east coast, she came to Manhattan College in 1996, to the English Department, where she has happily been ever since. 


  • PHD, Brown University
  • MA, Brown University
  • BA, Swarthmore College

Courses Taught

  • ENGL 110      First Year Composition
  • ENGL 110      First Year Composition--Education Section
  • ENGL 150      Roots: Literature
  • ENGL 151      Roots: Literature: First-Year Seminar: Monsters
  • ENGL 248      British Literature and Culture
  • ENGL 262      Gender and Literature
  • ENGL 274      Reading Poetry
  • ENGL 306      Introduction to Literary Study
  • ENGL 310      British Literature II: The Romantics through the 20th Century
  • ENGL 334      Studies in British Romanticism: Romanticism and Revolution
  • ENGL 334      Studies in Romanticism: Romantic Passions
  • ENGL 334      Romantic Matter(s): Subjects and Objects
  • ENGL 335      Studies in Victorian Literature: Desire and Deviance
  • ENGL 337      Literature by Women
  • ENGL 337      Gender, Sexuality, and Literature
  • ENGL 3XX     Queering the Text
  • ENGL 367      Literary Criticism and Theory
  • ENGL 392      Topics in Literature: Gothic Fictions
  • ENGL 399      Independent Study (Topics have included: Feminist Theory; Romantic Women’s Poetry; Sexuality and Literature; Queer Texts; Gothic Literature: Vampires)


  • Research

    Book Project: Love Matter(s), 1789-1832

    As it is currently imagined, Love Matters will use thing theory, affect theory, and new materialism to analyze Romantic writers’ fascination with ephemeral gestures that are exchanged as signs of love, what I call “love matter”—for example, kisses, touches, tears, looks (smiles/blushes), orgasms, and corpses. My analysis of the affective materiality of love will be organized in five sections of three short chapters each (Things, Gestures, Emotions, Body Parts, Words). Each chapter will situate a specific text within the larger cultural understanding and Romantic literary representations of its matter. These love things that are not things were, and still are, invested with great meaning, though they are fleeting. Their transience is part of their value, but they are also given the status of objects that define relationships to others. In analyzing these ephemeral objects, immaterial materialities, my book will explore and undo the relationship between the romantic and the Romantic, between the book and the ephemeral writing that often preserves these gestures, between the spontaneous gift and the act of memory required to maintain it, between subject and object, between passion and imagination. Thus, Love Matter(s) seeks to examine Romantic writers’ investment in memory and writing as ways of creating and sustaining self in a new context, the context of love, but shifts attention from passion which has been a central focus of scholarship, to the passionate gestures themselves, to the things that not only make up the lovers’ discourse but that constitute the affective materiality of love and lover. 


  • Publications and Scholarly Activities
    • Seven entries for The Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, 1660-1820. Ed, April London. Cambridge UP, 2019:  Mary Robinson’s Vancenza, The Widow, Angelina, Hubert de Sevrac, The False Friend, The Natural Daughter; and Maria Elizabeth Robinson’s The Shrine of Bertha. 800 words each. Forthcoming 2021.

    • Foreword for Tim Gress’s Fales booklet A Collector’s Zeal. Summer 2020.

    • Co-edited Volume: Material Transgressions: Beyond Romantic Bodies, Genders, Things. Co-edited with Kate Singer (Mount Holyoke) and Suzanne Barnett (Francis Marion University). Liverpool University Press, July 2020.

    • Kate Singer, Ashley Cross, and Suzanne Barnett, co-authors. “Introduction: Living in a New Material World.” Introduction to Material Transgressions: Beyond Romantic Bodies, Genders, Things. Liverpool University Press, 2020. pp. 1-28.
    • Mary Robinson and the Genesis of Romanticism: Literary Dialogues and Debts, 1784-1821. Routledge, 2017.

      This book analyzes Mary Robinson’s dialogues with other Romantic writers, including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Charlotte Smith, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft. These literary exchanges, I contend, reveal Robinson's constitutive role in the formation of British Romanticism and further the idea of Romantic discourse as essentially interactive and conversational. I further show that Robinson’s dialogic self-authorizing and the public response to it produced an ambivalent legacy with which early nineteenth-century poets John Keats and Charlotte Dacre had to contend.

    • “Teaching Romanticism VIII: Mary Robinson” Ed. Daniel Cook. Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780-1840. 9 November 2014. Web. <>
    • “Writing Pain: Sensibility and Suffering in the Late Letters of Mary Robinson and Anna Seward.”  Rylands Library Bulletin 90.2 (Autumn 2014): 85-110.
    • "To ‘buzz lamenting doings in the air’: Romantic Flies, Insect Poets, and Authorial Sensibility,” European Romantic Review 25.3 (2014): 337-346.
    • Model 2:  “Teaching Oroonoko in the Literature Survey II Class” came out in hardcopy and paperback editions of Approaches to Teaching Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko. Ed. Mary Ann O’Donnell and Cynthia Richards. New York: MLA Publications, 2014. 112-17.  
    • Rev. of  Daniel Robinson, The Poetry of Mary Robinson: Form and Fame, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2011. The Wordsworth Circle 42.4 (Autumn 2011): 292-294.
    • “Charlotte Dacre.”  A critical biographical essay. British Writers Supplement XVIII Ed. Jay Parini.Farmington Hills,MI: Thomson-Gale. September 2011. 17-38.
    • "Robert Southey and Mary Robinson in Dialogue." The Wordsworth Circle 42.1 (Winter 2011): 10-17.
    • “Anna Seward.” A critical biographical essay. British Writers, Supplement XVII. Ed. Jay Parini. Farmington Hills, MI:  Thomson-Gale. December 2010. 225-43.
    • "Coleridge and Robinson: Harping on Lyrical Exchange."  Fellow Romantics: Male and Female  British Writers, 1790-1835. Ed. Beth Lau. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009. 39-72.
    • "Mary Darby Robinson."  A critical biographical essay.  British Writers, Supplement XIII. Ed. Jay Parini. Farmington Hills, MI:  Thomson-Gale, 2008.  195-216.
    • "'What A World We Make the Oppressor and the Oppressed': George Cruikshank, Percy Shelley, and the Gendering of Revolution in 1819." ELH (Spring 2004): 167-207.
    • "He-She Philosophers and Other Literary Bugbears:  Mary Robinson's A Letter to the Women of England." Women's Writing  9.1 (2002): 53-68.
    • "From Lyrical Ballads to Lyrical Tales:  Mary Robinson's Reputation and the Problem of Literary Debt." Studies in Romanticism 40.4 (Winter 2001): 571-605.
    • "'Indelible Impressions': Gender and Language in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (September 1998):  547-580.
    • "Men in Feminism," "Penis," and "Social Contract" in Feminist Literary Theory: A Dictionary. Ed. Beth Kowaleski-Wallace (New York: Garland, 1997): 260-61, 300, 376-77

    Selected, Recent Conference Papers:

    • “The Possibilities of Impossible Sex: Female Friendship, the Ladies of Llangollen and Their Visitors” for Roundtable on “The Impossibilities of Romantic Sex: New Directions in Romanticist Feminisms and Beyond” Session Sponsored by the NASSR Theory and Philosophy Caucus. NASSR 20/20 Romanticism and Vision. Annual Conference of National Association for the Study of Romanticism. Toronto, ON, August 6-9, 2020. Cancelled because of pandemic.

    • “Queer Kisses and Romantic Sex.” Panel entitled, “Erotic Confluences: Queer Kisses, Blissed Out Rivers, & Dry Codes.” Organized by Kate Singer (Mount Holyoke). Annual International Conference on Romanticism. St. Louis, MO, October 22-24, 2020. Cancelled because of pandemic.

    • “Creature Matter(s): Gothic Feedback Loops and Frankenstein’s New Forms.” Special NASSR session at the Annual Conference of BARS (British Association of Romanticism: Romantic Facts and Fantasies, Nottingham, UK, July 25-28, 2019. I was invited to be on this panel by the organizer, Chris Bundock (University of Regina)

    • “Enshrining Austen: Maria Elizabeth Robinson’s The Shrine of Bertha (1794).” 2019 International Conference on Romanticism: Romanticism Then and Now, Manchester, UK. July 31-August 2, 2019.

    • “The Sea Within the Ice: Ballycadding Frankenstein’s Matter(s)”:  Creative, collaborative dramatic adaptation of collection introduction with Kate Singer (Mount Holyoke) and Suzanne Barnett (Francis Marion). Annual International Conference on Romanticism, “Romantic Assembly,” Greenville, SC, October 24-28, 2018.

    • "Touchpoints: Romantic Extimacy in The Corsair and Count Basil." Modern Language Association Annual Conference. Philadelphia. January 2017

    • "'Thou art my dew': Atmospheric Embodiment in Charlotte Dacre’s Hours of Solitude (1805)." Inernational Conference on Romanticism. Colorado Springs. October 2016
    • "Writing the Wrongs of Rights: John King's Defenses." North American Society for the Study of Romanticism. Winnipeg, Manitoba. August 2015.
    • "Charlotte’s Tears: Romantic Sensibility and the Materiality of Crying. International Conference on Romanticism Annual Conference. Minneapolis, MN. November 2014.
    • "Men on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Catastrophic Masculinity in Robinson's Walsingham  and Godwin's Fleetwood." International Conference on Romanticism Annual Conference. Tempe, AZ. November 2013.
    • "Mary Robinson and the Sonnet's Prospects." North American Society for the Study of Romanticism Annual Conference. Neuchatel, Switzerland. August 2012.
    • “Vindicating the Writing Woman: Mary Robinson's Dialogues with Godwin and Wollstonecraft.” 22 March 2012. In concert with the Exhibition: Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family, New York Public Library, New York. February to July 2012. Audio recording:
    • “Re-Inventing Mary Robinson: Keats and the Politics of Sensibility.” Annual International Conference on Romanticism. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 3-5 November 2011.
    • “Perdita and the Swan: Reading Disability in the Life Writing of Mary Robinson and Anna Seward.” Writ From the Heart: Women's Life Writing in the Long Eighteenth Century. The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester, UK. 29 January 2011.
    • “Keats, Robinson, and the ‘Forlorn’ Body.” International Conference on Romanticism. New York, November 2009.
    • “The Curious Case of the Ivory Cabinet: Mary Robinson and 1790s Queer Panic.” National Association for the Study of Romanticism Annual Conference. Duke University. May 2009.
    • “Harping on Lyrical Exchange.” Special Session on Coleridge and Gender that I organized. Modern Language Association Annual Convention. New York. December 2002.  
    • “Mary Robinson’s Polygraphic Perversity.” North American Society for the Study of Romanticism Annual Conference. Seattle, Washington.  August 2001.
    • “Vindicating Mary Robinson’s Thoughts on the Condition of Women.” Mary Robinson Conference. University of Warwick, Coventry, England. September 2000.  
  • Professional Experience and Memberships

    Professional Experience

    • Full Professor, Dept, of English, Manhattan College, 2012-
    • Associate Professor, Department of English, Manhattan College, 2002-2012
    • Assistant Professor, Department of English, Manhattan College, 1997-2002
    • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of English, Manhattan College, 1996-1997
    • Assistant Professor, Department of English, Benedictine University, 1993-1996
    • Teaching Fellow, Brown University, 1998-1993
    • Reviewer for Essays in Romanticism, European Romantic Review, Studies in Romanticism,Nineteenth-Century Contexts, and Keats-Shelley Journal
  • Honors, Awards, and Grants
    • Pen and Sword Society, Selected by students as honorary faculty, Spring 2001


    • Sabbatical, Manhattan College, 2004-2005, Spring 2011, Spring 2017
    • Summer Research Grants, School of Arts, Manhattan College, 2020, 2017, 2014,  2011, 2007, 2004, 1999
  • Other
    • Faculty mentor to four students on Branigan Research Projects