Jennifer Harris

Associate Professor
Jennifer Harris

PhD, York
MA, York
MA (Women's Studies), York
BA, Western Ontario

Extension: 47846

Pronouns: she/her


I started out studying technical theatre in Toronto, only to flee after stage managing the entire run of an absolutely unforgiveable musical. After completing Master's degrees in both English and Women’s Studies (writing on race and family in Dorothy West’s novels), I did a PhD in the former, specializing in nineteenth-century American literature.

Professionally, I’ve been the American Literatures Director of the Northeast Modern Language Association, President of the Canadian Association of American Studies, and review editor of the Canadian Review of American Studies. At the University of Waterloo, I maintain the English department blog, Words in Place (which you should definitely visit to learn more about our program).

My areas of research include late eighteenth and nineteenth-century American literature, African American literature, and print culture. A number of my publications have also looked at figures with ties to both Canada and the United States. I am most interested in work which recuperates overlooked or understudied writers as a means of expanding our understanding of cultures of print. As a creative writer I alternate between poetry and writing for children.

Selected publications


“Georgiana Whetsel and the Case for Nineteenth-Century Black New Brunswick Newspaper Culture.” Black Press: A Shadowed Canadian Tradition (Ed. Claudine Bonner, Boulou Ebanda de B'béri, and Nina Reid-Maroney). In press, University of Toronto Press.

Post-Slavery and the Making of the Black Canadian Novel, 1850s-1990.” The Handbook to Black Canadian Literature (Ed. Andrea Davis and Leslie Sanders). In press, Routledge.

“Offering Nothing: Phillis Hammond and ‘The Bitter Effects of Sin.’” Early American Literature 55.2 (July 2020): 395-418.

“Tangled Threads: Zara Wright and the Uses of African American Print Culture.” Legacy 36.2 (Dec 2019): 212-235.

“Peter Susand, Lost Texts, and Black Canadian Literary Culture of the 1850s.” Canadian Literature 236 (2019): 15-32.

“Hidden in Plain Sight: Uncovering the Career of Lucretia Howe Newman Coleman.” Legacy 34.2 (2017): 227-52.

“The eighteenth-century author no one knows and other problems: Promoting Jupiter Hammon on Long Island.” From Page to Place: American Literary Tourism and the Afterlives of Authors. Eds. Jennifer Harris and Hilary Iris Lowe. Boston: U of Massachusetts P, 2017. 21-45.

“Black Canadian Contexts: The Case of Amelia E. Johnson.” African American Review 49.3 (2016). 241-59. (Honorable Mention, Darwin T. Turner Award for the best essay representing any period in African American or pan-African literature and culture in African American Review.)

“Profile: Barbara Pope (1854-1908) and ‘The New Woman.’” Legacy 32.2 (2015): 281-304.

“‘The True History of My Brother Tom’s Dog’: A Lost Autobiographical Tale by Catharine Parr Traill.” Studies in Canadian Literature 39.2 (2014): 230-47.

“‘Ushered into the Kitchen’: Lalia Halfkenny, Instructor of English and Elocution at a Nineteenth-Century African American Women’s College.”Acadiensis XLI, no. 2 Summer/Autumn 2012: 45-65. Rpt. Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women`s History. 7th ed. Ed. Lara Campbell, Tamara Myers, and Adele Perry. Oxford University Press, 2016. 183-98. (Honorable Mention, Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity and Transnationalism Article Prize, Canadian Historical Association.)

“Unmasking The Literary Garland’s T.D. Foster.” Canadian Literature 213 (2012): 84-98.

“‘Almost idolatrous love’:  Caroline Dall, Sarah Knowles Bolton, Mary C. Crawford, and the Case of Elizabeth Whitman.” Women Writers and the Artifacts of Celebrity in the Long Nineteenth Century. Eds. Ann R. Hawkins and Maura Ives. London: Ashgate Press, 2012. 119-32.

“Black Life in a Nineteenth-Century New Brunswick Town.” Journal of Canadian Studies 46.1 (2012): 138-68.

“Aprons and Pearls: Images of Phillis Wheatley.” Resources for American Literary Study 34 (2011): 33-45.

“Wax Coquettes: Elizabeth Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the Nineteenth-Century Traveling Waxwork Exhibition.” Canadian Review of American Studies 40.3 (2010): 373-89.

“Managing Madness: Charles and Mary Lamb, Thomas Noon Talfourd, and Normand House.” Charles Lamb Bulletin 152 (2010): 94-104.

“The Legend of John Ruskin in Nineteenth-Century Upper Canada.” Ruskin Review 6.2 (2010): 24-34.

“Writing Vice: Hannah Webster Foster and The Coquette.” Canadian Review of American Studies 39.4 (2009): 363-82.

“‘What is Africa to Me?’: The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy.” The Oprah Phenomenon, 2nd edition. Eds. Jennifer Harris and Elwood Watson. Lexington: U of Kentucky P, 2009. 293-308.

“Revolution and the New Republic.”  The Cultural History of Reading, volume 2: American Literature. Ed. Sara Quay. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008. 63-96.

“It’s a Family Affair: Harriet Beecher Stowe and Annie and James T. Fields.” Popular Nineteenth Century American Women Writers and the Literary Marketplace. Eds. Earl Yarrington and Mary De Jong. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007. 318-28.

“Black Like ?: The Strange Case of Emma Dunham Kelley-Hawkins.” African American Review         40.3 (2006): 401-19. (Honorable Mention, 2006 Joe Weixlmann Award for the Year's Best Essay in Black Print Culture/20th-Century African American Literature in African American Review.)

“Marketplace Transactions and Sentimental Currencies in Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall.” American Transcendental Quarterly 20.1 (2006): 343-59.

“Seeing the Light: Re-Reading James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw.” English Language Notes 42.4 (2005): 43-57.

“Ain’t No Border Wide Enough: Writing Black Canada in Lawrence Hill’s Any Known Blood.” Journal of American Culture 27.4 (2004): 367-74.

“At one with the land: Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland and Matters of National Belonging.” Canadian Review of American Studies 33.3 (2003): 189-210.

“Rebel with a Questionable Cause: Charlotte Temple, the Domestic, and the New Nation.” Lamar Journal of the Humanities 28.2, 2003. (21-47). Rpt. Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism: Charlotte Temple. Ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau. Columbia, SC: Gale/Layman Poupard. (forthcoming 2017)

Edited Works

Harris, Jennifer, Hilary Iris Lowe, eds. From Page to Place: American Literary Tourism and the Afterlives of Authors. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2017. 

Foster, Hannah Webster. The Coquette and The Boarding School. Eds. Jennifer Harris and Bryan Waterman. Norton Critical Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2012. Preface, ix-xxiii.

Harris, Jennifer, Elwood Watson, eds. The Oprah Phenomenon. Lexington, KY: U of Kentucky P, 2007. Introduction 1-31. Single authored preface to second edition, 2009. ix-xi.

Tracing the Black Presence in Nineteenth-Century Westmorland, New Brunswick attempts to: 1) draw attention to the resources available for tracing the lives and contributions of black residents of Westmorland; 2) illuminate aspects of black life in nineteenth-century Westmorland; and 3) demonstrate that an understanding of black life in the region enriches any understanding of Westmorland history more generally.

Creative Writing

Picture books

The Witching Hour (forthcoming Tundra / Penguin Random House 2025)

The Keeper of Stars (OwlKids 2024; a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, 2024, and TD Summer Reading Club Book, 2024)

When You Were New (HarperCollins 2023)

She Stitched the Stars: The Story of Ellen Harding Baker’s Solar System Quilt(Albert Whitman, 2021)


Poems for Reluctant Housewives (Gaspereau Press, 2022)

“Modern Emulsion” (poem). Columba, Fall 2021  

Excerpts from Poems for 2021 (four poems). Matter Issue 29, February 2021

Fellowships & Awards

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Standard Research Grant (2007-2010)
  • Fulbright Fellow, New York University
  • SSHRC Aid to Small University Grant

Current research

I am at work on a co-edited edition of a late eighteenth-century American novel (under contract with Broadview Press), as well as a new edition of a lost work by a nineteenth-century Black Canadian author. Other in-progress work addresses several understudied African American authors.

Areas of graduate supervision

  • Nineteenth-century American literature
  • African American literature
  • Cultural studies