Sara L. Maurer


Associate Professor of English
Director of Graduate Studies
Fellow, Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies

Specialty: Nineteenth-century literature of Great Britain and Ireland, gender studies, post-colonial studies, the novel

Degrees: BA Rice University; MA, PhD, Indiana University, Bloomington

Sara Maurer's research focuses on nineteenth-century literature produced throughout the British Isles. Her first book, The Dispossessed State: Britain, Ireland, and Narratives of Ownership in the Nineteenth Century explores how both British and Irish writers saw Ireland as the site of a unique, culturally specific style of ownership, far different from the wholly individual, absolutely alienable property of the capitalist marketplace. While Irish writers like Maria Edgeworth, George Moore, and the journalists of the group Young Ireland saw this as what made Ireland resistant to British imperialism, other writers like Anthony Trollope, understood Ireland’s culturally specific styles of ownership as opening up a space for British participation in the United Kingdom. Still other writers, such as John Stuart Mill, saw Ireland’s indigenous forms of property as something the British should emulate in trying to solve their own problems.

Her current research continues to explore literature’s involvement in interactions that fail to conform to the logic of economic exchange. One strand of this research follows the category of the professional, a figure who works for money, but must be motivated by noble feelings and possibly even self-sacrifice. Maurer explores how the notion of having a profession substituted for national allegiance for a diverse group of Irish and Anglo-Irish writers including Charles Maturin, Patrick Brontë (and his daughter Charlotte), Charles Lever, Francis Sylvester “Father Prout” Mahoney, William Allingham, and Emily Lawless.

The other strand of this research concerns the massification of charity from the late eighteenth century through the Victorian era. She is currently at work on a book about the development of bureaucratic procedures for charity in an age which valued sincere face-to-face moments of sympathetic understanding.  In her book project, “Repeatable Care: The Structure of Compassionate Encounters in British Literature,” she examines the ways of knowing and feeling that Victorians associated with charitable action, both in works of literature, such as those by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but also in archival materials such as advice books for charitable workers, annual reports of charities, and the rules of newly established Anglican sisterhoods and brotherhoods.



  • “Philanthropy and Literature” forthcoming in The Wiley-Blackwell Encycolopedia of Victorian Literature, ed Dino Felluga, Pamela Gilbert (forthcoming)
  • “Maria Edgeworth’s ‘Little Platoons’: Professional and Domestic Affiliation in the Multi-National State” forthcoming in Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net
  • The Dispossessed State: Britain, Ireland, and Narratives of Ownership in the Nineteenth Century, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.


Contact Information
253 Decio Faculty Hall
(574) 631-3852

Postal address
Department of English
356 O’Shaughnessy
Notre Dame, IN 46556