Dr Azelina Flint is a scholar of women’s art and writing, who traces how the devotional and cross-disciplinary practice of forgotten female artists, and their transnational networks, creates new models of religious experience and female artistry that champions the perspectives of marginalised groups, and redefines disciplinary boundaries.
As a creative writer who has exhibited poetry alongside visual artists in Italy and US, Azelina has expanded her primary research specialism in nineteenth-century transatlantic studies to incorporate the contemporary practice of female artists whose work is shaped by traditions of women’s art that have been forgotten or overlooked. This includes the work of contemporary female iconographers, who re-evaluate women’s roles in sacred history by adapting an ancient artform that was historically only open to men.
Azelina’s current research is in Creative Critical Studies, which challenges the distinctions between creative and critical writing by drawing attention to the ways in which the critic’s subjectivity shapes their work of recovery and interpretation. She is working on a memoir that explores how her response to the ascetic spirituality of Simone Weil is shaped by her Catholic upbringing and the trauma surrounding her father’s death. Alongside this project, Azelina is developing a biographical memoir of the nineteenth-century American painter, writer and abolitionist, May Alcott Nieriker that reflects on how women’s historical recovery is shaped by the ways in which scholars identify with them.
Previously, Azelina has worked as a Lecturer, Teaching Fellow and Associate Tutor in Nineteenth Century Studies, American Literature, and Creative Writing, at Lancaster University, Royal Holloway (University of London) and the University of East Anglia. With an AHRC/Fulbright-funded PhD in American Studies, an MA in Victorian Literature, Art and Culture, and an MA in English, Azelina has developed a wide range of teaching experience across Victorian and American Studies (all periods), and in Creative Writing—encompassing twenty modules in literature, history, and theory.
Current Research Projects:
“Women’s Iconography in the Twenty-First Century” is an AHRC Impact Accelerator-funded project that explores how the sacred art practice of iconography can be used to celebrate women who are spiritual leaders in marginalised communities. Through a series of icon-making workshops at the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, who hold the largest British Collection of Icons outside of London, Azelina and her research partner, Brian Baker (Lancaster University), will empower local community groups to commemorate the women who inspire them in an artform that has historically overlooked their representation. This project also funds the construction and development of the first digital archive of women’s iconography that will catalogue contemporary women’s interventions into the most ancient Christian sacred artform, from which they were historically excluded.
Escaping Amy is a set of public events and research publications that recover the life and works of the forgotten “Renaissance Woman”, May Alcott Nieriker—a portraitist, curator, travel writer, journalist, art critic and educator, who just happened to be the model for Amy March in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women! Azelina is working on a bid for an international exhibit of Nieriker’s work that will draw the public’s attention to the glass ceilings Nieriker smashed in her journey to becoming a professional artist, as well the remarkable work of her female colleagues across the transatlantic world. Alongside this project, she is developing a biographical study of Nieriker that will trace the ways in which she defied her semi-fictionalised portrayal in Little Women through her lifestyle, art practice, marriage, and creative networks.
Azelina’s first book, The Matrilineal Heritage of Louisa May Alcott and Christina Rossetti (Routledge 2021), recovers the influence of the authors’ mothers and sisters on their juvenilia, devotional life-writing, and public work. Although Alcott and Rossetti never met, and despite the fact they inhabited vastly different cultural and religious contexts, there was a significant overlap in the lived experiences of their faith, and the ways in which they critiqued the ideologies of their male relatives in the transcendentalist and Pre-Raphaelite movements respectively. Azelina interprets Alcott’s and Rossetti’s spiritual experiences in prayer and meditation through the lens of her own—creating a novel practice-based work of criticism that expands the fields of American and Victorian Studies.
Azelina’s co-edited collection, The Forgotten Alcott: Essays on the Artistic Legacy and Literary Life of May Alcott Nieriker (Routledge 2022) is the first academic study of Nieriker, containing scholarship on her early life in Concord among the transcendentalists, her abolitionist painting and activism, the network of expatriate feminist artists she forged during her studies abroad, her experimental travel writing and fiction, and her work as an teacher, journalist, and curator. A truly ‘Renaissance Women’, Nieriker is recovered here as a transdisciplinary subject who stands between disciplines, networks, and ideologies—stiving to recognize the dignity of others.
|Azelina Flint (2022) 'Portraits of the Artist as a Young Wife: May Alcott Nieriker’s Influence on her Sister’s Literary Sketches, Fragments, and Narratives' European Journal of American Studies (EJAS), 17 . [Link] https://doi.org/10.4000/ejas.18604
|Azelina Flint (2021) '“Here are the model children”: Revisiting Louisa May Alcott’s Representations of Her Parents’ Educational Theories’' Concord Saunterer, 29 .
|Azelina Flint (2019) '‘No drop of black blood marred him in my sight': Reconstructing the nation through the interracial union in Louisa May Alcott’s abolitionist fiction' Comparative American Studies, 16 . [Link] [DOI]
|Azelina Flint (2019) ''Do you want to throw yourself into the jaws of sacrifice…you obstinate, ungovernable piece of marble!”: Self-Sacrifice as self-affirmation in Augusta Jane Evans’ Macaria' Mississippi Quarterly, 69 (4) .
|Azelina Flint (2018) 'Her lovely presence ever near me lives”: A brief encounter from the archives with May Alcott Nieriker' Brief Encounters, 2 . [Link]
|Azelina Flint (2015) 'Love that releases no beloved from loving”: Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s reaction to the “courtly love” convention of Dante Alighieri and his idealization of the female muse' Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, 24 .
|Azelina Flint (2015) '“Twofold silence as the Song of Love”: the application of Pater’s concept of Anders-streben, within his discourse of Aestheticism, to Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The House of Life’' Pre-Raphaelite Review, 24 .