Melissa Bailes specializes in British literature of the long eighteenth century (1660-1830), the history of science, transatlantic and transnational studies, and women's writing. She has published on these topics in journals such as ELH, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Studies in Romanticism, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Eighteenth-Century Life, and European Romantic Review. Her first book, Questioning Nature: Natural History, British Women Writers, and the Quest for Originality, 1750-1830 (University of Virginia Press, 2017), argues that women, including Eliza Haywood, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Shelley, claimed scientific superiority to naturalists to destabilize seemingly fixed identities and revise not only biological but also social and literary taxonomies. Her second book, Nature’s Clockwork, investigates concepts of time that dramatized this era’s tensions between mechanistic and organic ideas of nature and appeared in both scientific and imaginative texts in such forms as geohistorical vertigo, botanical clocks, and environmental nostalgia. Bailes has been awarded long-term fellowships from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA, as well as short-term fellowships from organizations such as the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and the Chawton House Library in the UK.
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