Dr Jennifer Wallace

Director of Studies in English

Elected

1995

Subject areas

Email

jmbw1@hermes.cam.ac.uk

College phone

338264

Jennifer Wallace directs studies in English at Peterhouse for second and third year students. She teaches undergraduate courses on literature from 1700-1900; Tragedy, ancient and modern; Lyric; Shakespeare in Performance; and Practical Criticism and Critical Theory. She also supervises dissertations, for undergraduates and graduates, on Romantic period topics and nineteenth century literature.

Dr Wallace's research career began with the study of Romantic period literature. She published two books on Romantic topics: Shelley and Greece: Rethinking Romantic Hellenism (Macmillan, 1997) and Lives of the Great Romantics: Keats (Pickering and Chatto, 1997), and she continues to write and review criticism of this period. Having studied Classics as well as English as an undergraduate, she also has a long-term interest in the classical tradition and in our continuing fascination with Greece, ancient and modern. She has published many articles on this topic, including essays on Illyria and on Troy, on the Hellenism of Matthew Arnold and on the classical translations and poems of various women writers: Elizabeth Carter, Mary Shelley, L.E.L., and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She is the co-editor of the Oxford History of the Classical Reception in English Literature, 1790-1880 (Oxford University Press, 2015), for which she contributed chapters on "Gender and Classical Reception" and "The Younger Romantics: Leigh Hunt, Shelley and Keats". This work on Hellenism led Wallace to become interested in archaeology in general and the way in which the archaeological imagination shares correspondences with the literary imagination. Her book, Digging the Dirt: The Archaeological Imagination (Duckworth, 2004), ranges from Stonehenge to Ground Zero, exploring, among others, issues of memory, faith and scepticism, political fundamentalism, the poetics of depth and the postmodern imagination. 

Dr Wallace's other main academic area of interest is in Tragedy - Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, modern theatre, film, tragic art and photography, memorials and sites of cultural memory - and in the ethical issues it raises about the relationship between tragic representation and our response to real disaster. Her book, The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007, and she has published articles recently on “Tragedy in China” (Cambridge Quarterly, 2013), “Tragedy and Laughter” (Comparative Drama, 2013), “Tragic Sacrifice” (in Christian Theology and Tragedy, ed. Taylor and Waller, 2011), and "Tragedy, Photography and Osama bin Laden: Looking at the Enemy" (Critical Quarterly, 2015). She is currently editing A Cultural History of Tragedy in the Modern Age for Bloomsbury Methuen and writing a book entitled Witnessing Tragedy since 9/11: How Literature Interprets a World Out of Joint, also for Bloomsbury.

Dr Wallace takes a keen interest in drama. She has lectured and taught seminars on Greek tragic theatre, on modern drama, and on Shakespeare, and each year she aims to take groups of Peterhouse students, studying the Tragedy paper with her, to productions of Greek tragedy (depending on what is currently running). She is Senior Treasurer of the Peterhouse drama society (known as the Heywood Society) and an active member of the Cambridge University Greek Play Committee, which organises the triennial production of a Greek Tragedy in Greek (a tradition which goes back to 1882).

Jennifer Wallace also regularly writes freelance journalism feature articles. Topics she has written about include post-apartheid South Africa, health scares and the food industry, institutional racism, punk philosophers in the break-up of Yugoslavia, writers in exile (Chinua Achebe, Ariel Dorfman, Edward Said), and theatre today (interview with David Mamet, post-colonial Shakespeare etc). She has interviewed some leading writers and intellectuals for the Times Higher Education Supplement features pages, including the French feminist Luce Irigaray, novelists Andre Brink and Eva Hoffmann, film-maker Catherine Breillat, post-colonial critics Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak, and philosophers Slavoj Zizek and Peter Singer. Her article on the political repercussions of Biblical archaeology in Israel was published in Smithsonian Magazine (May 2006), and a large photography and art exhibition on the impact of mining on tribal communities, for which she wrote the text, based on her fieldwork and interviews conducted in Jharkhand, India, was mounted in the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, for 3 months in 2011. Jennifer is happy to give advice to students considering a career in journalism.

Jennifer Wallace's first novel - Digging Up Milton - was published by Cillian Press in October 2015.

Dr Wallace convenes the Peterhouse Theory Group. The Theory Group in 2016-17 has concentrated upon the question of "Thinking Through Materiality”. While the Theory Group is open to anyone who is interested within the University, it is designed specifically as an intellectual and interdisciplinary forum for Peterhouse postgraduate students and College Fellows to discuss current theoretical and critical issues.

 

Dr Jennifer Wallace