Jeanne-Marie Jackson

Jeanne-Marie Jackson

Assistant Professor

Gilman 30A
Personal Website

Professor Jackson's first book, South African Literature’s Russian Soul: Narrative Forms of Global Isolation, was published in late 2015 (Bloomsbury). It is centrally concerned with how Russia’s nineteenth-century “Golden Age” of literature and ideas provides a model for the study of South African forms and epistemologies both during and after apartheid. It also advances a broader argument for realism’s maturation through deep historical and social remove. Through paired readings of nineteenth-century Russian texts and their South African successors, the book ultimately asks how traditions marked by a formative sense of isolation in the world make us ask harder questions about the “global” as a method and analytic category.​

She is currently completing a second book called The African Novel of Ideas: Intellection in the Age of Global Writing, under contract with Princeton University Press. It tells the story of the often-fraught relationship between the novel and philosophy at key, under-studied junctures of African intellectual life, from the early 20th century through the present day. It is a story, specifically, of how the novel negotiates between liberal selfhood and social awareness of various liberal orders’ failings, unseating false dichotomies between humanistic and liberationist modes of reading and writing. Starting with Fante anticolonial statesmanship in pre-nationalist Ghana; moving through Stanlake Samkange’s efforts to systematize African philosophy in mid-century Zimbabwe; charting more recent eastern African experiments with incorporating indigenous belief systems into narrative through the figure of the outcast; and arriving, finally, at narrativizations of “philosophical suicide” by current southern African writers, it offers a far-reaching account of the relationship between reflective solitude and aggregative structures.

Jackson has work published or forthcoming in NOVEL; Research in African Literatures; JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory; Comparative Literature Studies; Safundi; The Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry; Studies in the Novel; and English Studies in Africa. She also writes for venues including Public Books; n+1; The Conversation; 3:AM Magazine; Bookslut; Africa in Words; and The Literary Review.

Professor Jackson’s teaching covers a wide range of texts and locales from across sub-Saharan Africa and the greater Anglophone world, as well as, on occasion, her first love of nineteenth-century Russia. She teaches topics that are closely related to her own work (such as post-2000 novels from Africa and the theory of the novel), as well as the broader fields of world and postcolonial literature in which this research is contextualized. A partial list of her current and recent courses can be found below:

The Novel & Globalization

The Contemporary Novel of Ideas

Writing Africa Now

Russian Classics & Their Afterlives

World Literature in Theory & Practice

Law & Justice in Postcolonial Writing

Gordimer & Coetzee: Politics and Form 

Mapping the Global Metropolis 

Fictions of Empire