Melissa Shields Jenkins
I am an associate professor in the English department. I earned my MA and PhD in English from Harvard University, and my BA in English from Wake Forest University. I research nineteenth century British literature and culture, the history of the book, gender studies, and transatlantic race studies. I am particularly interested in interdisciplinary, socio-cultural approaches to literary studies. My first book, Fatherhood, Authority, and British Reading Culture (2014), paired theories of authority by John Stuart Mill and Max Weber with novels, conduct books, and life-writing. My second book project, Habits of Sympathy in Victorian Britain, interrogates the relationship between literary form and sympathetic identification across the divides of race, gender, and class. I am also working on a third book called Place and Power in Children’s Literature. In my teaching, I focus on serving students at all levels, from incoming freshmen in basic and divisional courses to advanced graduate students in specialized seminars. I am a faculty fellow in a freshman residence hall on campus, a long-time lower division adviser, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Wake Forest’s English department. In my acts of university service and mentoring, I focus on easing the transition from high school to college, and on preparing students for success in graduate and professional studies.
Office: Tribble Hall C-112
Fall 2019 Office Hours: Mondays, 11:30-1 in Tribble C-112; Tuesdays, 9:30-11 in Collins Residence Hall, and by appointment
Courses Taught at Wake Forest
Graduate Courses: ENG 760 Habits of Mind in Victorian Britain; ENG 743 Victorian Sensation
Major Courses: ENG399 The Past and Future of English Studies; ENG398 English Studies and the Professions; ENG 360 The Global Victorian; ENG 353 Nineteenth Century British Fiction; ENG301 Oscar Wilde; ENG266, Gateway to the Major II
Core Courses: ENG 150 Science Fiction(s); ENG165: Portraits of the Artist in British Literature; ENG 190: The Art of Short Fiction; WGS221: Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Basic Courses: ENG101: The Discipline of English Studies; FYS100: Faith and Doubt; FYE101: The College Transition
Writing Courses: WRI 111 Tales of Mystery and Terror; WRI 111 Animals Make Us Human: Service Learning Course
Fatherhood, Authority, and British Reading Culture. (2014; Paperback 2016)
‘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
“Liras” into “Lyres”: Talking across difference in the works of E. Nesbit.” Forthcoming in special issue of Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens 92 (autumn 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.