Carter Neal

Continuing Lecturer

Photo of Carter Neal.
PhD, Indiana University
MA, Indiana University
​BA, University of Virginia

Extension: 41316


I earned a BA in English, with a Concentration in American Studies, at the University of Virginia, and completed my PhD in English (American Literature) at Indiana University in 2016. During my graduate studies, I assisted in writing program administration, and I have taught a broad range of communications and writing courses. I served as a Lecturer in Business Communication for Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business from 2011-2016, and I worked as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of South Dakota from 2016-2018. I joined the University of Waterloo in August, 2018.

I research antebellum and Reconstruction American literature, with a focus on Emerson studies, Transcendentalism, and social welfare or reform movements. My work considers the changing tensions between relationships of choice, such as friendship, adoption, and love, and more rigid structures of social and personal organization, like gender, race, and religion. In my writing on the pre-history of adoption or on Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller’s cross-gender friendship, I am interested in the productive experiments that nineteenth century Americans conducted as they struggled to produce relationships that fit the new circumstances of a nation in flux.

Selected Publications

Readings for Analytical Writing. 3rd ed. Compiled with Christopher Basgier, Christine Farris, Harmony Jankowski, and Andy Oler. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Custom. 2011.

Readings for Analytical Writing: Instructor’s Manual. 3rd ed. Co-authored with Christopher Basgier, Christine Farris, Harmony Jankowski, and Andy Oler. Indiana University. 2011.

Fellowships and Awards

Graduate Paper Award, The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, 2010.

Current Research

I am working to revise parts of my dissertation, “The Splendid Failures of Emersonian Friendship,” for publication, including work on Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s epistolary friendship and work on Emerson’s theoretical influence on the formation of adoption agencies in the 1850s in New England. 

Recently, I have found myself thinking through questions and issues in the scholarship of teaching and learning, rhetorical theory, and the public humanities. I borrow a phrase in my dissertation’s title (“splendid failure”) from W.E.B. Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction, and I suggest that some failures can produce things that would have been unexpected when considered from within traditional notions of development. Du Bois has led me to engage with work in critical race studies that has broadened my thinking about failure as a necessity for a kind of development that isn’t tied to a naive sense of progress. Much of this work traces an intellectual history back through Du Bois to Emerson and beyond. This work has implications for teaching and for public rhetoric as well. It also troubles how we think about scholarly production and the methods of communication employed within the academy.

Research Areas

  • American Literature
  • Emerson Studies
  • Fuller Studies
  • Transcendentalism