Jeanne-Marie Jackson

Jeanne-Marie Jackson

Associate Professor
Gilman 30A
Thursdays 1-3pm
Personal Website

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. In 2021, she was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. 

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 argues for perceived disconnection as a source of far-flung transnational affinities, challenging the salience of "the global" as a method and analytic category. Jackson's second book, The African Novel of Ideas (Princeton 2021), 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. It ranges from the Fante Coast in the early twentieth century to contemporary South Africa and Zimbabwe, foregrounding work by figures including J.E. Casely Hayford, Stanlake Samkange, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Imraan Coovadia. Her current book project is a literary biography of Casely Hayford, paired with a new teaching edition of his novel Ethiopia Unbound

In addition to her expertise in anglophone African writing, Jackson works across Russian, Afrikaans, Shona, and Anglo-Fante traditions. She is editor of the "Field Reports" blog for Modernism/modernity, and has published widely in scholarly and public-facing venues such as NOVELResearch in African LiteraturesModernism/modernity; the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary InquiryComparative Literature StudiesStudies in the NovelJNT: Journal of Narrative Theory; the New Left Review (Sidecar)n+1Public Books3:AM MagazinePopula; and The Conversation - Africa

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


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

"African Fiction and Philosophy." Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature (2020). 

"A Case for Site-Activated Modernism: Elmina Asafo Aesthetics." Modernism/modernity PrintPlus, 4.1 (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 Novel43.3 (2011): 343-362.