Professor Jackson received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2012, and joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2014. Her work addresses questions of comparative method, literature and philosophy, and interpretive scale, mainly in the framework of African literature and intellectual history.
Her first book, South African Literature's Russian Soul: Narrative Forms of Global Isolation (Bloomsbury 2015), is centrally concerned with how Russia's nineteenth-century "Golden Age" of literature and ideas provides a model for the study of South African realist forms and epistemologies, both during and after apartheid. It also advances a broader argument for disconnection as a basis for far-flung transnational affinities. Her second book, The African Novel of Ideas (in production with Princeton University Press), tells a story of how the novel has negotiated between liberal selfhood and awareness of liberalism's failings across key African intellectual contexts. It ranges from the early-twentieth-century Fante Coast to contemporary South Africa and Zimbabwe, dealing with work by figures including J.E. Casely Hayford, Stanlake Samkange, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Imraan Coovadia. In addition to writing the first classroom guide to twenty-first century African writing, she is now beginning work on two new long-term projects: one provisionally titled J.E. Casely Hayford: An Experimental Biography, and one on African intellectuals of the 18th century, including in Petrine Russia.
In addition to her expertise in Anglophone African writing, Jackson works in Russian, Afrikaans, Shona, and Anglo-Fante traditions. She is editor of the "Field Reports" blog on Modernism/modernity PrintPlus, and has work published in venues including NOVEL; Research in African Literatures; The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry; Comparative Literature Studies; Studies in the Novel; JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory; n+1; Public Books; 3:AM Magazine; Popula; and The Conversation - Africa.