Jolie Sheffer

Associate Professor, English and American Culture Studies

414 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

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

Courses Taught


CCS 3030 Intersections of Race, Gender, & Culture
ENG 2000 Writing About Literature
ENG 2010 Introduction to Literary Studies
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


ACS 6300 Theories and Methods of American Culture Studies
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 7840 Independent Study: “Studies in Sexuality and Race”

Select Publications


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

“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’sThe Promised Land,” MELUS 35.1 (Spring 2010): 141-166. 

Book Chapters & Contributions

“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).

Works in Progress

Understanding Karen Tei Yamashita 
(under contract) is a volume in the Understanding Contemporary American Literature Series at the University of South Carolina Press. It provides a clear and concise introduction to Yamashita’s biography, key motifs in her work, as well as offering research resources for advanced students and scholars. The book addresses major issues including global capitalism, immigration, and environmental justice. This volume serves as a crucial accompaniment to Yamashita’s novels, offering cogent commentary and analysis of her innovative, challenging texts, and providing useful explanations of major critical approaches and thematic concerns.

With Stefanie D. Hunker, “Digital Curation Collaboration: Pedagogy in the Archives.” 25th Anniversary issue, Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship & Pedagogy.