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Jessica Valdez

Assistant Professor


Jessica R. Valdez is an assistant professor of English. Her interdisciplinary research offers new ways of thinking about novelistic form, media, and identity in nineteenth-century literature and culture. Her first book – Plotting the News in the Victorian Novel – is forthcoming in June 2020 with Edinburgh University Press. Plotting the News is about the ways that nineteenth-century novels incorporate news stories into fictional narrative. It argues that novelistic realism developed in tension with emerging claims to reality in the newspaper press. Victorian novelists thus emerge as early media theorists, thinking through the contrasting systems of reality offered by newspapers and novels. This project was funded by an Early Career Scheme fellowship from the Hong Kong General Research Fund (428,268 HKD). Her other research intervenes in the growing field of seriality studies by framing novels’ experiments with serial form as a means to problematize national and imperial powerShe contributed to a special issue on seriality for Journal of Modern Periodical Studies and recently completed an article rethinking serial form in Anthony Trollope’s novels. She is currently working on a new book-length project  that analyzes the intersecting imaginaries of the United States and China in nineteenth-century British literature, arguing that writers used stereotypes of Asian despotism in articulating anxieties about American democracy. She earned her PhD, MA, and BA at Johns Hopkins University.

Selected Publications


This book Explores how nineteenth-century novels analysed the formal and social workings of news.

Journal Articles - Refereed

  • “‘Our Impending Doom’: Seriality’s End in Late-Victorian Proto-Dystopian Novels,” special issue on “Seriality,” Journal of Modern Periodical Studies, 9.1 (2018).

  • “‘This is Our City’: Realism and the Sentimentality of Place in David Simon’s The Wire,” European Journal of American Culture, 34.3 (2015), pp. 193-209.

  • “How to Write Yiddish in English, or Israel Zangwill and Multilingualism in Children of the Ghetto,” Studies in the Novel, 46.3 (2014), pp. 315-334.

  • “‘Dickens’s ‘Pious Fraud’: The Popular Press and Narrative’s Potential for Social Control,” Victorian Periodicals Review, 44.4, pp. 377-400.

Encyclopaedia Entries

  • “Melodrama,” Companion to Victorian Popular Fiction, ed. Kevin A. Morrison (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018)

  • “Sarah Grand,” Companion to Victorian Popular Fiction, ed. Kevin A. Morrison (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018)

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