Jessica C. Beckman

|Assistant Professor
Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of English and Creative Writing

Jessica Beckman specializes in  English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with a particular focus on literary form and material texts. She teaches courses on  literary history, early modern drama and poetry including Spenser and Milton, the nature of  literary character, and the history of the book from  William Shakespeare  to Gertrude Stein. Her current book project, entitled The Kinetic Text, studies how spatial, recursive, and discontinuous reading can be harnessed to produce poetic effects. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Stanford University, an MA in English from Georgetown University, and a BA in English and Art History from The George Washington University. For the 2023-2024 academic year, she is a Barbara Thom Postdoctoral Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. Her scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in Renaissance DramaThe Spenser Review, Spenser Studies  and Exemplaria, and her research has been supported by short-term fellowships from the Huntington Library and the Stanford Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), among other institutions.  Before joining the faculty at Dartmouth, she taught at Smith College, where she was  honored for her work with students by  the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and at Stanford University, where she received the School of Humanities and Sciences' Centennial Teaching Award.


Sanborn, Room 003
HB 6032


English and Creative Writing


  • B.A. George Washington University
  • M.A. Georgetown University
  • Ph.D. Stanford University

Works In Progress

  • The Kinetic Text: A Poetics of Movement in the Age of Print

    Although the compilers of Shakespeare's first folio address their work "to the great Variety of Readers," new attention to the history of reading and the materiality of texts has recovered great varieties within those readers. They read serially, discontinuously, and even spatially around the page; they read silently and aloud, in bed and at their desks, with pen in hand and with other books on their minds. Their reading was, as ours remains, a dynamic and variable enterprise.    

    The Kinetic Text introduces a new theory of early modern poetics that illustrates how printed books solicit this dynamism to create literary effects. Bridging new formalism, the history of reading, and the history of the book, The Kinetic Text not only redraws the canonical boundaries of early modern English poetics around the expressive potential of the material text, but also reveals how these aesthetics can change, intensify, and wane as these texts are reprinted and remade.


  • Unstable Character in the English Renaissance

    Unstable Character examines the physicality of literary character before the rise of narrative realism. How, it asks, do poets and dramatists theorize bodies that are made out of words? How are such bodies assembled and transformed? Unlike character criticism that focuses on neoclassicism, probability, or psychological consistency, this project investigates how early modern writers use literalized metaphors and transformed bodies to explore fiction as a kind of material existence.