Jolie Sheffer

Jolie Sheffer 


230 East Hall

Degrees and Institutions

Ph.D. English Language & Literature, University of Virginia, 2007
M.A. English Language & Literature, University of Virginia, 2003
B.A. English, Northwestern University, 1998

Areas: English, American Culture Studies

Research Interests: Twentieth-Century American Literature & Culture, Race & Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality, Critical Theory and Cultural Studies

Courses Taught

Undergraduate courses

CCS 3030: Intersections of Race, Gender, & Culture

ENG 2000: Writing About Literature

ENG 2010: Introduction to Literary Studies

ENG 2110: African American Literature

ENG 2750: American Literature Survey Part II, 1865-1945

ENG 3020: Introduction to Literary and Critical Theory

ENG 3100: Multiethnic American Literature

ENG 4320: Fictions of the Nation and Family

ENG 4800: Asian American Literature & Popular Culture

ENG 4990: Senior Thesis Workshop

Graduate courses

ACS 6300: Theories and Methods of American Culture Studies

ACS 6730: Life Writing and Racial(ized) Memoir

ACS 6750: The 1960s in Contemporary American Literature & Culture

ACS 6800: Directed Reading: “African American Literature and Criticism”

ENG 5800: Asian American Literature & Popular Culture

ENG 5800: American Ethnic Literature and Theories of Identity

ENG 6010: Introduction to English Studies

ENG 6070: Theory, Methodology, and Literary Criticism

ENG 6750: Racial Landscapes in Contemporary U.S. Literature

ENG 6750: American Literary Realisms

ENG 6750: Contemporary Black Protest Literature

ENG 6750: Literature of Black Protest and Black Joy

ENG 7840: Independent Study: “Studies in Sexuality and Race”

Select Publications


Understanding Karen Tei Yamashita (University of South Carolina Press, 2020). (136 pages)

Among the most trenchant and provocative writers of globalization, Karen Tei Yamashita is one of the most significant, ambitious, and widely taught Asian American writers today. In four genre-bending novels, a short story collection/travel essay collage, a family memoir, and more than a dozen performance/theater works, Yamashita weaves together postmodernism, magical realism, history, social protest, and a wicked sense of humor. Sheffer gives readers a concise introduction to Yamashita's life, provides lucid analysis of key motifs, and synthesizes major research on her work. Each chapter offers, in accessible prose, original interpretations of essential works and stages in her career: her Brazil-Japan migration trilogy comprising Brazil-Maru, Through the Arc of the Rain Forest, and Circle K Cycles; the magical realist revision of the Los Angeles riots in Tropic of Orange; her historical magnum opus about Asian American activism in the long 1960s, I Hotel; her understudied theatrical and performance works collected in Anime Wong; and her recent familial memoir about Japanese American internment during World War II, Letters to Memory. In short the volume serves as both a lucid introduction to a challenging author and a valuable resource for students and scholars.

The Romance of Race: Incest, Miscegenation, and Multiculturalism in the United States, 1880-1930 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013) examines the role of minority women writers and reformers in the inauguration of modern American multiculturalism. Writer-reformers such as Jane Addams, Pauline Hopkins, Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton), María Cristina Mena, and Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) embraced the image of the United States—and increasingly the world—as an interracial nuclear family. These women writers reframed public debates through narratives depicting interracial encounters as longstanding, unacknowledged liaisons between white men and racialized women, which result in an incestuous, miscegenated nation. By confronting and conflating the sexual taboos of incest and miscegenation, these women writers created political allegories of kinship and community. Linking literature to citizenship and anti-miscegenation laws, as well as transnational cultural and economic exchanges, I identify a more radical history of American multiculturalism than is currently acknowledged. (91,000 words)

Journal Articles

“Introduction: Historical Fiction and the 1960s: Mediating the Past and Reimagining the Future.” Special Issue on “Re-Thinking, Re-Reading, and Re-Seeing Ethnic Historical Fiction,” MELUS, vol. 45, no. 4., (Winter 2020), 1-21.

“Interracial Solidarity and Epistolary Form in Precarious Times: Karen Tei Yamashita’s Letters to Memory,” Arizona Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 4, Winter 2020, pp. 55-84

With Stefanie D. Hunker, “Digital Curation Collaboration: Pedagogy in the Archives,” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture, vol. 19, no. 1. (January 2019).

“The Optics of Interracial Sexuality in Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings and Sherman Alexie’s Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” Special issue on “Native/Asian Encounters,” edited by Hyoejin Yoon and Cari Carpenter. College Literature 41.1 (Winter 2014): 119-148. 

“‘Citizen Sure Thing’ or ‘Jus’ Foreigner’?: Half-Caste Citizenship and the Family Romance in Onoto Watanna’s Orientalist Fiction,” Journal of Asian American Studies 13.1 (February 2010): 81-105. 

“Recollecting, Repeating and Walking Through: Immigration, Trauma, and Space in Mary Antin’s The Promised Land,” MELUS 35.1 (Spring 2010): 141-166. 

Book Chapters & Contributions

“Many Endings, Many Beginnings: Alternative Histories of I Hotel.”Approaches to Teaching the Works of Karen Tei Yamashita, edited by Ruth Hsu and Pamela Thoma, Modern Language Association, 2021, pp. 76-81.

“Slave to Love: Racial Form in Early Asian American Miscegenation Plots.” Asian American Literature in Transition, 1850 – 1930 (Volume 1), edited by Josephine Lee and Julia Lee, Cambridge University Press, 2021, pp. 264-280.

“Racial Realism.” The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Realism, edited by Keith Newlin, Oxford University Press, 2019, pp. 269-284.

“Many Endings, Many Beginnings.” Teaching the Works of Karen Tei Yamashita, edited by Ruth Hsu and Pamela Thoma, Modern Language Association, 2019.

“Slave to Love: Erotic Excess in Asian American Miscegenation Plots.” Asian American Literature in Transition, 1850 – 1930 (Volume 1), edited by Josephine Lee and Julia Lee, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

“Realism and Race.” The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Realism, edited by Keith Newlin, Oxford University Press, 2018.

“Standing on Top of the World: Masculinity and Imperialism on Everest.” Linda K. Fuller, ed., Sexual Sports Rhetoric: Global and Universal Contexts. New York: Peter Lang, 2010. 

Essay on The Promised Land by Mary Antin. Abby H. P. Werlock, ed., Facts on File Companion to the American Novel. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Book Reviews

Review Essay of Imperfect Unions: Staging Miscegenation in U.S. Drama and Fiction by Diana Rebekkah Paulin (2012) and The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory by Tavia Nyong’o (2009).  Journal of American Ethnic History (Fall 2014).

Rev. of Melting Pot Modernism, by Sarah Wilson (2010). Modern Fiction Studies (Fall 2014).

Rev. of Interracial Encounters: Reciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures, 1896-1937, by Julia H. Lee (2011). MELUS 37.4 (Winter 2012).

Other Print Publications

Jolie Sheffer, Lisa Hanasono, et. al, “Redefining and Re-Committing to Shared Governance: An Imperative for the Pandemic and Beyond.”Liberal Education. Winter 2022. (3,500 words)

Updated: 11/29/2021 10:03AM