Photo of Melissa Free


Assistant Professor, Department of English, General Literature, and Rhetoric

Ph.D. in English, University of Illinois, 2009
tel.: 607-777-5400

Areas of Interest

Victorian literature and culture
Twentieth-century British and Irish literature
Postcolonial studies
Gender and women’s studies
South African literature

Selected Publications

"British Women Wanted: Gender, Genre, and South African Settlement." The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Literary Culture. Ed. Juliet John. Oxford: Oxford UP, forthcoming. (Commissioned book chapter.)
"'It Is I Who Have the Power': Settling Women in Haggard's South African Imaginary." Genre 45.3 (2012): 359-93.
"An Education in the Unwholesome: Dirt, Stench, and Desire in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." Critical Insights: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ed. Albert Wachtel. Pasadena: Salem, 2011. 33-49. (Commissioned book chapter.)
“‘Who is G.C.?’: Misprizing Gabriel Conroy in Joyce’s ‘The Dead.’” Joyce Studies Annual (2009): 277-303.
“Relegation and Rebellion: The Queer, the Grotesque, and the Silent in the Fiction of Carson McCullers.” Studies in the Novel 40.4 (2008): 426-46.
“Freaks That Matter: The Dolls’ Dressmaker, the Doctor’s Assistant, and the Limits of Difference.” Victorian “Freaks”: The Social Context of Freakery in Britain. Ed. Marlene Tromp. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2008. 259-82.
“‘Dirty Linen’: Legacies of Empire in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language 48.4 (2006): 340-71.
“Un-Erasing Crusoe: Farther Adventures in the Nineteenth Century.” Book History 9 (2006): 89-130.

Work in Progress

Book Project
"'That Indefinable Something Besides': Southern Africa, British Identity, and the Authorial Informant."
In this analysis of the South African writings of Olive Schreiner, Rider Haggard, Gertrude Page, Rudyard Kipling, and John Buchan, I argue that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the region's "authorial informants" contributed to the rise of southern Africa in imperial consciousness, not least through the production of new generic forms including the New Woman novel, the female colonial romance, the empire romance, and the spy thriller. Claiming an enhanced British identity based on their own South African experiences, they depict South Africa as an "elsewhere England" and South African Britishness (with the exception of Schreiner) as the superlative admixture of preservation and progress. Channeling or thwarting female, European, African, and Boer authority through generic innovation, they construct (or in the case of Schreiner, critique) ideological fantasies informed by the metropolitan diversity they implicitly reject and the local influences they explicitly deny. In so doing, these self-styled experts not only belie the integrity of Britain and Britishness that is the foundation of British imperial ideology; they generate new models of gender, class, race, and nationality.

"Frustrated Listening: The Aural Landscape of Heart of Darkness."

Introduction to and collection of historical documents for Broadview Anthology of British Literature's The Dead and Other Stories. (Commissioned.)

Courses Taught/Independent Studies Supervised

Postcolonial Studies
Victorian Exiles
The British Bildungsroman in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries    
Constructions of Race in the Late Nineteenth Century
Imagination and Adventure: British Adventure Fiction, 1868-1912
Victorian Debates on Belonging
Postcolonial Fiction
Empire and Adventure in Victorian Popular Fiction
The Brontës
British Education in the Long Nineteenth Century
British Women Writing Empire
Victorian Gothic
Introduction to Drama
Introduction to Fiction: Violence in Literature
Lost: Castaway Fiction from BCE to ABC

Last Updated: 7/27/16