Jeanne-Marie Jackson

Jeanne-Marie Jackson


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Research Interests: Theory of the novel, literature and philosophy, sub-Saharan African literature, Russian realism, global regionalisms

Jeanne-Marie Jackson received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 2012, and joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2014. Her work attends to questions of comparative method, literature and philosophy, and interpretive scale, mainly in the framework of African literature and intellectual history. In 2021, she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow.  

Jackson's most recent book is The African Novel of Ideas: Philosophy and Individualism in the Age of Global Writing (Princeton 2021), which reads African novels through the lens of African philosophy to craft a story of how the form has negotiated between liberal selfhood and liberal critique. Extending from the Fante Coast in the early twentieth century to contemporary South Africa and Zimbabwe, it charts the increasingly fraught place of deep reflection in an evolving range of narrative structures. In 2023 it was awarded Honorable Mention for the Book of the Year – Scholarship Prize from the African Literature Association.  

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 in both English and Afrikaans, during and after apartheid. It also argues for perceived disconnection as a source of far-flung transnational affinities, challenging the salience of “the global” as both method and hermeneutic category.  

Jackson's third book, “The Letter of the Law in J.E. Casely Hayford’s West Africa,” is under contract with Princeton University Press. A concept-driven account of Casely Hayford's written work in the context of his legal and political career, it positions him as a key figure to modernist anticolonial thought, as well as African and British imperial legal and literary history. Her co-edited critical edition of Casely Hayford’s 1911 novel, Ethiopia Unbound, is soon forthcoming with Michigan State University Press. A co-edited volume with Cajetan Iheka, Intellectual Traditions of African Literature 1960-2015, is also forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. 

Her scholarly work is published or forthcoming in a wide range of academic journals and edited collections, as well as public-facing venues including the New York Times; the New Left Review (Sidecar), Public Books3:AM Magazinen+1Africa Is a Country, The ConversationPopula, and The Hopkins Review. Jackson is Senior Editor of ELH

“Against Ethnography: On Teaching Minority Literature.” Chapter in Decolonizing the English Literary Curriculum, eds. Ato Quayson and Ankhi Mukherjee. Cambridge UP, 2023. 

“Coetzee's Russians.” Chapter in The Bloomsbury Handbook to J.M. Coetzee, eds. Lucy Graham and Andrew van Der Vlies, 2023.

“John Guillory, Meet Kwasi Wiredu: A 1990s Guide to the Future English Department.” Special issue of Genre, 56.1 (2023).

“The Facts at the Heart of the Matter: Character and Objectivity in the Making of the Fante Intelligentsia.” Chapter in African Literatures as World Literature, eds. Alexander Fyfe and Madhu Krishnan. London: Bloomsbury, 2022. Pages 233-53. 

“A Voice in the Crowd: The African Novel of Ideas Book Forum Response.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 9.2 (2022): 273-277.

“Stanlake Samkange’s Insufferable Zimbabwe: Distanciating Trauma from the Novel to Philosophy.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry 8.2 (2021): 158-176. 

Response to Yogita Goyal’s Runaway Genres: The Global Afterlives of Slavery, for the journal Humanity.

“African Fiction and Philosophy,” article for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature. 

“African Literature and the European Canon,” chapter in Wiley-Blackwell’s new Companion to African Literatures

“Modernism after Modernism,” editorial statement for the Field Reports blog on Modernism/modernity Print Plus 4.3 (2019).

“A Case for ‘Site-Activated’ Modernism: Elmina Asafo Aesthetics.” Modernism/modernity Print Plus, 4.1 (2019).

Review of Cajetan Iheka’s book Naturalizing Africa (2019). 

“Plurality in Question: Zimbabwe and the Agonistic African Novel.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 51.2 (2018): 339-361.

“Comparison Re-Justified.” Invited response to Joseph Slaughter’s 2017 American Comparative Literature Association Presidential Address. Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literature Inquiry 5.3 (2018): 255-261.

“Reading for the Region in New African Novels: Flight, Form, and the Metonymic Ideal.” Research in African Literatures 49.1 (2018): 42-62.

Interview with Elnathan JohnResearch in African Literatures 48.2 (2017): 89-93. 

“Introduction: Religion, Secularity, and African Writing,” with Nathan Suhr-Sytsma. Research in African Literatures 48.2 (2017): vii-xvi.

Review essay on The Lives of the Novel (Princeton) and The Novel: An Alternative History (Bloomsbury), Comparative Literature Studies 53.4 (2016): 847-851.

“Retreating Reality: Chekhov’s South African Afterlives.” JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory 45.1 (2015): 46-78.

“You Are Where You Aren’t: Mark Behr and the Not-Quite-Global Novel.” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 14.2 (2013): 175-190.

“Singular Exceptions: Animal Instrumentality in Tolstoy and Coetzee.” English Studies in Africa 55.2 (2012): 29-42.

“Going to the Dogs: Enduring Isolation in Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf.” Studies in the Novel 43.3 (2011): 343-362.