Melissa JenkinsMelissa Shields Jenkins

As a teacher and scholar, I create connections between literary studies and the opportunities and responsibilities of an increasingly global world. At Wake Forest University, I am an associate professor in the English department and core faculty in the department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I earned my MA and PhD in English from Harvard University, and my BA in English from Wake Forest University. My areas of research specialization include 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. 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 senior faculty fellow in a freshman residence hall on campus, a long-time lower division adviser, and the Director of Core Literature 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 2016 Office Hours: By appointment




 Courses Taught at Wake Forest

Graduate Courses: ENG 760 Habits of Mind in Victorian Britain; ENG 743 Victorian Sensation

Major Courses: ENG 360 The Global Victorian; ENG 353 Nineteenth Century British Fiction; ENG301 Oscar Wilde; ENG266, Gateway to the Major II.

Basic and Core Courses: ENG101 The Discipline of English Studies; ENG 150 Science Fiction(s);ENG 190: The Art of Short Fiction; FYS100: Faith and Doubt

Writing Courses: WRI 111 Tales of Mystery and Terror; WRI 111 Animals Make Us Human: Service Learning Course




Fatherhood, Authority, and British Reading Culture. Ashgate/Routledge, July 2014


‘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


“Global Victorians.” Forthcoming in edited collection Victorian Literature in the 21st Century: A Guide to Pedagogy. Palgrave, 2017.

“Masculinity.” Oxford Bibliographies in Victorian Literature. Ed. Juliet John. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. (forthcoming)

 “The Next Thing You Know, You’re Flying Among the Stars: Re-Mapping the City in African American Picture Books.” (forthcoming, ChLA Quarterly Special Issue, 2016)  

“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. 


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