Jay David Miller

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Email: Jay.D.Miller.690@nd.edu

Areas of Interest
Early American Literature, History, and Culture; Literature and the Environment; Book History and Print Culture; Religion and Theology; the Atlantic World

MA, English, The Pennsylvania State University (2015)
BA, English and Politics, George Fox University (2011)


Jay David Miller is a PhD candidate whose work concerns the way colonial American literature figures the relationship between the environment, theology, and economics. His dissertation focuses specifically on Quaker writing, and the way Quakers develop a distinctive discourse of literary agrarianism that persists and changes from the English Revolution to the aftermath of the American Revolution in the context of burgeoning commercial and imperial activity in the Atlantic world. Employing a capacious model of Quaker literary history that includes George Fox, Anne Conway, William Penn, Jonathan Dickinson, Elizabeth Ashbridge, Anthony Benezet, Hannah Calendar Sansom, William Bartram, and Charles Brockden Brown, this project attends to the persistence and decline of a theologically motivated vision of land and labor in Quaker writing. By identifying a form of literary agrarianism in early America other than those of Jefferson and Crèvecoeur, the project significantly alters our understanding of the discourse in the period, and in the process offers a new literary history of Quaker writing in the Atlantic world. Some of these ideas have been explored in an article on John Woolman published in the journal Religion and Literature.  

In the summer of 2014 Miller conducted archival research at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College, supported by a grant from the Center for American Literary Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. As a part of his growing interest in German language literature in North America, during the summer of 2016 he studied German at the Goethe Institut in Mannheim, Germany, supported by a grant from the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame. During the academic year of 2016-2017 he served as the editorial assistant Early American Literature, the official journal for the Society of Early Americanists and the Modern Language Association’s Forum on Early American Literature. In 2018 he was granted a Notebaert Professional Development Award from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters and the Graduate School to support his participation in the university’s Dissertation Accelerator Program, a dissertation chapter workshop which takes place in the United Kingdom and brings together PhD candidates from Notre Dame, University of Edinburgh, Heidelberg University, and Oxford University.   

Recent Scholarly Activity:

“Eschatology, Dark Ecology, and the Environmentalism of the Poor in ‘Life in the Iron Mills,’” C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Fifth Biennial Conference, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, March 22-25, 2018.

“Woolman in the Aftermath of Penn,” Religion and Politics in Early America, Society of Early Americanists Special Topics Conference, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, March 1-4, 2018.  

"'[A]nswerable to the design of our creation': John Woolman’s Agrarian Vision," 10th Biennial Conference of the Society of Early Americanists, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, March 1-4, 2017.

"Jamaica, Jonathan Dickinson, and the Quaker Atlantic World in the Late Seventeenth Century," The Colonial Caribbean in Context, Symposium Hosted by the University of Notre Dame History Department, South Bend, IN, February 7-8, 2016.

"God’s Protecting Providence in Print: Jonathan Dickinson’s Captivity Narrative in the Quaker Atlantic World," Bustle and Stir: Movement and Exchange in Early America An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Philadelphia, PA, October 8-10, 2015.