Assistant Professor; Director of the English Honors Program
email
Humanities Building 225A
(205) 975-3751

Research and Teaching Interests: Gender Studies, Women’s Literature, American Literature, The Novel

Margaret Jay Jessee. Office Hours: By appointment

Education:
  • BA, University of Tennessee, English/Minor in Psychology
  • MA, University of Tennessee, English
  • PhD, University of Arizona, English

I teach courses on composition, American literature, women writers, and critical theory. I recently taught a seminar on Jane Austen, a gothic novel course, and a course on women physicians in American literature. My courses encourage dynamic class discussions about important current and historical social issues along with close textual analyses of literature.

My research is primarily focused on issues of gender and their relationship to literary aesthetics. My current book project, Murderess to Doctress: The Affective Legacy of the Abortionist in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, analyses the way various types of novels capture the emotional response to women physicians in nineteenth-century America. My work uses aesthetic theories of terror, horror, and empathy as well as historical research on women doctors in America.

I also have the pleasure of directing the English Honors Program. If you are an English major and are interested in writing an honors thesis, please email me for more information and visit the Honors webpage.

In my free time, I am a committed, if slow, trail runner and bike rider. I also enjoy long road trips with my husband and our beloved but hyper poodle, Stanley.


  • “Melodrama and Drama.” Nathaniel Hawthorne in Context, edited by Monika Elbert. Cambridge University Press. Forthcoming date: TBA.
  • Guest Editor, Special Issue of Arizona Quarterly: American Literature, Culture, and Theory. “Medical Women in American Literature.” Forthcoming date: TBA.
  • “‘The Third Sex’: Nineteenth-Century Doctresses in Liminal Literary Spaces.” Liminality, Hybridity, and American Women’s Literature: Thresholds in Women’s Writing, edited by Kristin J. Jacobson. Palgrave-Macmillan. May 2018: 165-181.
  • “A New Material Approach to Reading Objects in Wharton’s Novels of Manners.” Edith Wharton: Critical Insights, edited by Myrto Drizou. Salem Press. December 2017: 96-109.
  • “‘Fumbling with the Key’ to Narrative and Feminine Duality in Henry James’s Watch and Ward.” South Atlantic Review. 79.1-2 (2015): 143-157.
  • “Veiling Ladies and Narrative Masquerade in The Blithedale Romance.” Nathaniel Hawthorne Review. 40.1 (2014): 62-82.
  • “Trying it On: Narration and Masking in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.” JML: Journal of Modern Literature. 36.1 (2012): 37-52.
  • Women’s Literature and Theory
  • The Gothic Novel
  • Jane Austen
  • Medical Women in American Literature
  • Women’s Science Fiction