Peter Gibian

 Peter Gibian
Contact Information
514-398-4400 Ext 00956
Email address: 
peter.gibian [at]

McGill University
Department of English
853 Sherbrooke Street West
Arts Building
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5 CANADA

Faculty Members
Associate Professor

B.A. (Yale); M.A. (New York); M.A., Ph.D. (Stanford), Associate Professor

Nineteenth Century
Teaching areas: 

American Literature and Culture Before 1900 (especially "American Renaissance"); American Mass Culture of the 19th and 20th C.

Taught previously at: 

Williams College.

Current research: 

Two ongoing book projects on: cosmopolitanism in 19th-c. American literature (A Traveling Culture); the mid-19th-c. American "culture of conversation" (American Talk).

Book chapters forthcoming:  

  • “Writing between Worlds: Washington Irving and the Cosmopolitan Tradition in American Literature and Art,” in proposed collection, Cosmopolitans at Home and Abroad ed. James Hewitson.
Selected publications: 

“Competing Spatial Impulses in the Cosmopolitan World of George Washington Cable’s New Orleans,” special issue of Romantisme, on “New Scales of Regionalist Writing,” (forthcoming winter 2018).

“Beyond Aesthetic Tourism: Travelers and Locals in Sargent’s Self-Reflexive Subject Pictures,” in A Seamless Web: Transatlantic Art in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Marian Wardle and Cheryll L. May (2014)

“The Lecture Room as Contact Zone: Bayard Taylor’s Travel Lectures,” in The Cosmopolitan Lyceum, ed. Thomas Wright (2013)

“Anticipating Aestheticism: The Dynamics of Reading and Reception in Poe,” in Short Story Theories: A Twenty-First-Century Perspective, ed. Viorica Patea (2012)  

“Hale’s ‘The Man Without a Country’ and America’s Postwar Crisis of National Belonging,” CRAS (Canadian Review of American Studies) (2012) 

“The Image and Its Discontents: Hawthorne, Poe, and the Double Bind of ‘Iconoclash’,” Journal of the Short Story in English 56 (Spring 2011)  

“Levity and Gravity in Twain: The Bipolar Dynamics of the Early Tales,” reprint of 1994 journal article, in Mark Twain’s Short Stories, ed. Harold Bloom (2011)

“Dr. Holmes: The Life in Conversation” (Harvard University Medical School, Fall 2009)

““Herman Melville, Cosmopolitanism, and Traveling Culture,” The Blackwell Companion to Herman Melville (2006)
"The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table," American History through Literature, 1820-1870 ( 2006)
“L’implicite, l’implication, et la complicité dans deux contes d’Edgar Poe,” L'Implicite dans la nouvelle de langue anglaise (2005)

"Conversations with Whitman," The Mickle Street Review (October 2004)

"A 'Traveling Culture': Cosmopolitanism in Nineteenth-Century American Literature," Annals of Scholarship (Spring 2002)

Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Culture of Conversation (2001, reprint 2009)

"The Old Order on the Threshold of the Modern: James, Wharton, Adams," in The American Century (1999)

"People Movers: Snow, Pound, Muybridge and the Stop-Action Arts of Consumer Culture," in American Modernism Across the Arts (1999)

Editor and contributor, Mass Culture and Everday Life (1997)
Read the book online.

"Defining the Oratorical Culture of Victorian America: Elocutionary Style and Political Stance in Walt Whitman and Edward Everett," Intellectual History (Fall 1994)

"The Art of Being Off-Center": Shopping Center Spaces and Spectacles," Signs of Life in the U.S.A. (1994)

"Opening and Closing the Conversation: Style and Stance from Holmes Senior to Holmes Junior," in The Legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1992)

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 
  • Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 2009 (McGill University)
  • Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Research Grant, 2006-2009
  • Louis Dudek Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2007-08 (English Dept., McGill University)
  • Lois Rudnick Prize for Best Book in 2001-02 (given by New England chapter of the American Studies Association)
  • NASSA Teaching Award, North American Studies Student Association, 2005
  • H. Noel Fieldhouse Award for Distinguished Teaching (given by Faculty of Arts, McGill University, 2003)
Book images: 
Book reviews: 

Nineteenth-Century Literature, Journal of American History, New England Quarterly, American Historical Review, Modern Philology.


“Selected talks and lectures since fall 2009”

“John Singer Sargent’s ‘Traveling Culture’: Transatlantic Crossings, Expatriate Experience, and the Workings of a Cosmopolitan Aestheticism” (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Nov. 2009).

“Beyond the ‘Talking Cure’: Dr. Holmes on Conversation, Medicine, and Psychology” (Harvard University; Nov. 2009).

“The Cultural Work of Metropolitan Conversation: The Saturday Club,” lecture at Harvard University, February 27, 2010.

“The Image and Its Discontents: Hawthorne in Dialogue with Poe,” paper for international symposium, “L’image dans la nouvelle de langue anglaise,” Université d’Angers, France, March 19, 2010.

“Speaking the Commonwealth: Oratory and Conversation as Competing Models of Public Life in the America of Emerson, Whitman, and Melville.” Plenary lecture for symposium, “The Humanities and Public Life,” Dawson College, Montreal, March 25, 2010.

“Revising the Role of the Cosmopolitan Woman Traveler: From Daisy Miller to Ellen Olenska.” Paper for panel on “James and the Women,” NEMLA annual conference, Montreal, April 9, 2010.

“Sentimental Nationalism and the Cosmopolitan Patriot: Hale’s ‘The Man Without a Country.’” Paper for annual conference of the ALA (American Literature Ass’n), San Francisco, May 29, 2010.

“John Singer Sargent’s Cosmopolitan Aestheticism: Portraits of Expatriate Experience,” American Library in Paris, Paris, Dec. 8, 2010. 

“The Return of the Repressed: Poe’s Place in the Transatlantic Transmission of Aestheticism,” University of Zurich, Dec. 9, 2010. 

“The Globalizing Lyceum: Bayard Taylor’s Travel Lectures and the Legacy of Washington Irving’s Cosmopolitan Vision,” keynote lecture at symposium, “The Cosmopolitan Lyceum,” American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, Sept. 23, 2011. 

“Beyond Aesthetic Tourism: Travelers and Locals in Sargent’s Self-Reflexive Subject Pictures,” plenary dinner talk at symposium, “Transactions: Transnationalism and the Formation of American Culture,” Brigham Young University Art Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 27, 2012.

“Competing Spatial Impulses in the Cosmopolitan World of Cable’s New Orleans.” Paper given at CAAS (Canadian Ass’n for American Studies) conference, Toronto, October 27, 2012.

“The Labyrinth of Literary Influence: Haunting, Doubling, and Unconscious Plagiarism in the Transmission of a Decadent Aesthetic.” Keynote faculty address, EGSA Graduate Conference: “Labyrinths: Navigating Complexity Across the Humanities,” McGill University, February 15, 2013. 

“The Trial of Wall Street: Melville’s ‘Bartleby’.” Public lecture given as part of Great Trials Series organized by McGill’s IPLAI, Montréal, February 28, 2013.

“Salons and Saloons: Alternatives Sites in the Formation of Literary Public Spheres,” paper for panel on “Literacy’s Material Histories: American Sites and Scenes” at NeMLA conference, Boston, March 23, 2013.

“Becoming Transparent: The Dynamics of Emersonian Influence,” symposium talk given for “Higher States” exhibition on Lawren Harris, McMichael Gallery, Kleinburg, ON, March 20, 2017.

 “Writing between Worlds: Washington Irving and the Cosmopolitan Tradition in American Literature and Art,” paper presented for special panel on “global or trans-national approaches to 19th-century American literature” organized by BrANCA (British Ass’n of Nineteenth-Century Americanists), annual conference of BAAS (British Ass’n for American Studies), Canterbury, UK, April 7, 2017.

“Cultures of Conversation, Oratory, and Print: Rival Modes of Publicness and Public Speech in 19th-c. America,” Interuniversity Seminar on Nineteenth-Century Literature, University of London, UK, April 11, 2017.

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