Faculty Profile: Meet Sarah Blackwood

  Sarah Blackwood
    Sarah Blackwood

Sarah Blackwood, PhD, is the new Assistant Professor of English on the New York City campus. Dr. Blackwood earned her PhD from Northwestern University in 2009, and her BA from University of Virginia in 1998. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University. Her articles and essays have appeared in American Literature, The Emily Dickinson Journal, and a forthcoming edited volume of essays on Henry James entitled Henry James in Context. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled The Portrait’s Subject: Inventing Psychology in Nineteenth-Century America. She was awarded a Patricia and Phillip Frost Fellowship in the Study of American Art and Visual Culture at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2007.

The Dyson Digital Digest recently caught up with Dr. Blackwood to learn a little bit more about her.

Q: What courses will you be teaching this year?
A: In the fall, I’m teaching “American Literature I” and “Writing in the Disciplines.” This spring, I’ll teach “American Short Fiction” and “Critical Writing.”

Q: You recently moved back to New York from Chicago. What has that transition been like?
A: Things I miss dearly include Chicago’s incredible Mexican food, the quality-of-life effect of putting trash in alleyways rather than on sidewalks, and the lakefront. Things I am pleased to have traded in include a World Series championship and a superior Frederick Law Olmsted park in my neighborhood (Prospect Park rather than Humboldt). My time in Chicago did, however, teach me that there is only one way to prepare a hot dog-- and that is Chicago-style, topped with a dill pickle spear, relish, chopped onion, chopped tomato, celery salt, and mustard (NO ketchup).

Q: What do you enjoy writing about and researching?
A: In addition to the literature of the period, I also research and write on nineteenth-century art and visual culture, but I did not study much art history as an undergraduate. Instead, my visual education took place mainly in the workplace, when I was employed as a Rights and Reproductions Manager at the Terra Museum of American Art in Chicago. I was in charge of making sure all the photographic images we had of the museum’s art works were vibrant, detailed, and true to the original, so the job entailed a lot of time in the vault, one-on-one with great works of art: just me, a notepad, and my eyes poring over the works’ surfaces. It wasn't officially a classroom, but it was a wonderful education.

Q: What are some of your literary favorites?
A: My favorite literary character is Isabel Archer from Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady; I think the best literary representation of the pleasure of a nap is found in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; every time I smell food cooking from the hallway of my apartment building I think of Theodore Dreiser’s description of apartment life in Sister Carrie.