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Jessica Ward

Dr. Ward is Assistant Professor of Early British Literature at Mercy College. Her work focuses on the intersections of medieval and early modern literature, theology, gender, and the law. Additional teaching and research interests include drama, moral philosophy, economic criticism, multilingualism, multiculturalism, composition studies, critical bibliography, digital humanities, and contemplative pedagogy. Current projects include a book-length study on how late fourteenth-century London writers draw on penitential discourses to give avarice, an abstract vice, literary form. She has been awarded grants from McGill University’s Early Modern Conversions Project as well as the Newberry Library, and her work has appeared in Studies in Philology and other scholarly journals and books. Before coming to New York, Dr. Ward taught at Meredith College and at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has acted and served as a dramaturg to Shakespeare troupes in Texas and continues to do so in New York.


Ph.D. in English, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

M.A. and B.A. in English Literature, University of North Texas

Selected Publications


Penitentials to Poetry: Interrogating Avarice in Late Medieval London (Monograph in progress)


In preparation:

“‘Alle thise been homycides’: Wrath in Relation to Sins Against Children in The Parson’s Tale.”


"The Coveting of ‘Muche’ Instead of ‘Mesure’: Lady Mede and Nede in the C-Text of Piers Plowman," New Directions in Medieval Mystical and Devotional Literature: Essays in Honor of Denise N. Baker, eds. Amy N. Vines and Lee Templeton. (Under contract with Lehigh University Press, forthcoming 2021). Peer reviewed.

In print: 

"Avarice, Idolatry, and Fornication: The Connection Between Genius's Discussion About Religion and Virginity in Book 5 of John Gower's Confessio amantis," Studies in Philology 116.3 (Summer 2019): 401-422. Peer reviewed.

"Writing About Your Composing Process" in Rhetorical Approaches to College Writing (Hayden-McNeil, 2018), 189-194.

"Legal Publics in Shakespeare's Hamlet," Plaza Dialogues in Language and Literature 3.1 (Fall 2012): 4-12.

Teaching Focus


"From Vice to Virtue?: The Seven Deadly Sins in Medieval Literature" (ENGL 540)

“Introduction to the History of Textual Transmission” (ENGL 514)


Seminar in Literary Research, Writing, and Critical Theory (ENGL 400)

Seminar in Shakespeare’s Tragedies (ENGL 316)

Seminar in Shakespeare (ENGL 315)

Seminar in Medieval Literature (ENGL 300)

Old and Middle English Literature (ENGL 297)

History of the English Language (ENGL 295)

Survey in English Literature I (ENGL 205)

Honors English II (ENGL 192 | HONR 192)

Written English and Literary Studies II (ENGL 112)

Written English and Literary Studies I (ENGL 111)



Finalist, Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship Competition, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 2018
One of the 70 finalists (top 14%) out of 500 applicants across humanities and social science disciplines

Research Grant, awarded by the Early Modern Conversions Project, McGill University, 2017

Newberry Library Grant-in-Aid, 2014
Funded participation in the 2014 Multidisciplinary Medieval and Renaissance Conference

Mike Pueppke Best Essay Prize, Southern Methodist University, 2013

Newberry Library Grant-in-Aid, 2012
Funded participation in the symposium “Comparative Early Modern Legal History” organized by historians Allan Greer (McGill University) and Richard J. Ross (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


Greenwald Faculty Development Fund Research Grant, 2021-22

Faculty Travel Grant (3 awards), 2019-2020


Bernard Dissertation Fellowship, College of Arts and Sciences, 2017-2018
Awarded to only one Ph.D. candidate from the College of Arts and Sciences nominated by their department to support a promising dissertation

William G & Kate Hodge Lane Fellowship, English Department, 2014-2018
Awarded to only one incoming Ph.D. student in English every four years

Class of 1952 Travel Grant, English Department, 2016

Conference Travel Awards, Graduate School (4 awards), 2014-2016

Lenses Travel Grant, English Department, 2016


Mary Patchell Scholarship, English Department, 2013-2014

USC Scholarship for Continuing Graduate Students, College of Arts and Sciences, 2012-2013

Graduate Critical Writing Award, English Department, 2012

Contact Info

Jessica Ward
  • Assistant Professor, English
GMH 208