Dr Jennifer Wallace

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; Love, Gender and Sexuality; and Practical Criticism and Critical Theory. She also supervises dissertations, for undergraduates and graduates, on Romantic period topics and nineteenth century literature. Her current or recently graduated PhD students have worked on “The Younger Romantics and Tragedy” and “Global and Postcolonial versions of Antigone”.


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 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. She has published three books on tragedy: The Cambridge Introduction to Tragedy (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Tragedy since 9/11: Reading a World Out of Joint (Bloomsbury, 2019) and an edited collection of essays, A Cultural History of Tragedy in the Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2019). She gave the keynote lecture at the International Convention of Comparative Literature in Tbilisi 2022 on “Mourning the Tragedy of Covid”.


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).


In the past, Jennifer Wallace was a regular writer for the Times Higher Education Supplement, interviewing some leading writers and intellectuals for the features pages, including the French feminist Luce Irigaray, novelists Andre Brink and Eva Hoffmann, film-maker Catherine Breillat, post-colonial critics Edward Said, Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak, and philosophers Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler 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. More recently she has written for the New Statesman and the TLS. 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.


For more details on Wallace’s publications, see her Faculty webpage.



Key Information

Director of Studies in English
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