Associate Professor, Literature Program


  • Fall 2023-Spring 2024: Funded Reynolds Research Leave

I earned my BA in English from Wake Forest University, and my MA and PhD in English from Harvard University. I research nineteenth century British literature and culture, the history of the book, and gender studies. Current projects include book-length manuscripts entitled Habits of Sympathy in Victorian Britain and Children’s Literature and the Architectural Imagination.

Website | Curriculum Vitae

Courses Taught at Wake Forest

  • Graduate Courses: ENG760 Victorian Questions; ENG 760 Habits of Mind in Victorian Britain; ENG 743 Victorian Sensation; LBS720 Special Topics in Lang and Lit: Faith and Doubt
  • Major Courses: ENG398 English Studies and the Professions; ENG 360 The Global Victorian; ENG 353 Victorian Fictions of Childhood; ENG301 Oscar Wilde; ENG290 Foundations in Literary Criticism; ENG266 Gateway to the Major II
  • Core Courses: ENG 150 Science Fiction(s); ENG165 Portraits of the Artist in British Literature
  • Basic Courses: FYS100 Faith and Doubt; FYS100: Animals Make Us Human (Service Learning Course)

Selected Publications



  • ‘This is a distinctly new kind of book on fatherhood: an innovative study of the troubled relations between real and fictional fathers and sons, and the extra-literary texts that shaped them. Juxtaposing J.S. Mill and Max Weber, Melissa Jenkins’s lively and provocative analysis tracks shifting notions of patriarchal authority from Gaskell to Gosse through engagement with conduct books and family prayers, palimpsests and science writing, to create an “idea of the father” perpetually under reconstruction.’ -Valerie Sanders, University of Hull, UK
  • “In each of these chapters, Jenkins’s central focus of analysis is an authorial career, which is one of the book’s great strengths…Jenkins manages both to illuminate individual works and to provide a sense of their dynamic coherence with one another.” –Journal of British Studies, April 2015
  • “a fresh interdisciplinary study that will interest scholars in both masculinity studies and gender studies.” –Review of English Studies, July 2015
  • “of especial interest to Bronte and Gaskell scholars and is well worth studying on all fronts.” – Bronte Studies, November 2015


  • Ghost Boys, Water Babies, and White Allyship.” Forthcoming in The Lion and the Unicorn.
  • “Set Moves: Travel Stories Told by Games for Children.” Forthcoming in Literature. 
  • “Life Support.” Forthcoming in edited collection Ages and Stages: Women in the Academy, ed Terry Novak.
  • “‘Too Menny’: Hardy’s Divisive Devices and the Placement of Far from the Madding Crowd.” Forthcoming in DSA: Essays on Victorian Fiction.
  • “‘Flowers / As Flourish Best Untrained’: Hardy’s Forms.” Forthcoming in Studies in the Literary Imagination.
  • “E. Nesbit’s Urban Fantasies and Adult Suspensions of Disbelief.” Forthcoming, Cities and Fantasies: Urban Imaginary Across Cultures, 1830-1930. Liverpool University Press.
  • “Louis Edwards’ Oscar Wilde Discovers America: Gender, Narration, and the Judas Kiss.” Forthcoming, African American Review.
  • “Whither, Hardy?” (Review Essay). Dickens Studies Annual 54.1 (Spring 2023): 74-83.
  • “Liras” into “Lyres”: Talking across difference in the works of E. Nesbit.” Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens 92 (winter 2020)
  • “George Meredith and the Dark Body.” Yearbook of English Studies 49 (2019): 120-136. 
  • Global Victorians.” Teaching Victorian Literature in the 21st Century: A Guide to Pedagogy, ed Jen Cadwallader and Lawrence Mazzeno. New York: Palgrave, 2017. 3-18. 
  • “Masculinity.” Oxford Bibliographies in Victorian Literature. Ed. Juliet John. New York: Oxford University Press, August 2016.
  • “The Next Thing You Know, You’re Flying Among the Stars: Nostalgia, Heterotopia, and Re-Mapping the City in African American Picture Books.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 41.4 (Winter 2016): 343-364.
  • “Associationist Philosophy, Cognitive Literary Studies, and Objective-Subjective Habits of Mind.” Literature Compass 12.10 (2015): 538-547
  • ““A Long Private Letter’: Motherhood and Text in the Works of Elizabeth Gaskell.” In Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives, ed. Justine Dymond and Nicole Willey. Demeter Press, 2013. 64-84.
  • “Stamped in Hot Wax: George Meredith’s Narratives of Inheritance.” Victorian Literature and Culture 39 (2011): 525-543.
  • “You are ‘father,’ you know: Hardy’s Palimpsests.” Fathering in Victorian Fiction, ed. Natalie McKnight. Cambridge Scholars, 2011. 185-206
  • “‘The Poets are With Us’: Frederick Douglass and John Milton.” Modern Language Studies 38:2 (Winter 2009): 12-27.
  • “‘His Crime was a Thing Apart’: Elizabeth Gaskell Writes a Father’s Life.” Victorians Institute Journal, 36 (2008): 245-274.
  • “‘Was Ever Hero in this Fashion Won?’ Alternative Sexualities in the Novels of George Meredith.” Straight Writ Queer: Non-Normative Expressions of Heterosexuality in Literature, ed. Richard Fantina. Jefferson and London: McFarland, 2006. 124-133.