Jessica Wolfe


Greenlaw 417
(919) 962-9895

Director of Comparative Literature

Professor, English and Comparative Literature

Affiliated faculty, Romance Studies (French and Italian)

Affiliated faculty, Classics

Affiliated faculty, Medieval and Early Modern Studies


Jessica Wolfe is the author of Humanism, Machinery, and Renaissance Literature, published by Cambridge University Press in 2004. Her second book, Homer and the Question of Strife from Erasmus to Hobbes, was just published by University of Toronto Press (2015):

Portions of this book have been published in Renaissance Papers (2003), in Renaissance Quarterly (2005), and in a special volume of College Literature devoted to the reception of Homer (2008). Professor Wolfe has also published on Spenser's Faerie Queene for the Blackwell Companion to Tudor Literature, ed. Kent Cartwright; on Milton and the epic tradition for the MLA Approaches to Teaching Milton's Paradise Lost, ed. Peter Herman; on Shakespeare in the Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare, ed. Arthur Kinney ('Shakespeare and the Classics"), on Erasmus' cosmopolitanism, and on the Elizabethan satirist John Marlston (ELR). She is also a contributor to the Oxford History of Classical Relations to English Literature (OHCREL), for which she has written an article on the reception of Homer in early modern England. Other contracted or forthcoming articles will soon appear on poetry and science in the Renaissance, on George Chapman's translations of Homer, on a very odd Latin poem by Thomas Hobbes, on performing insects in the Renaissance, and on metempsychosis in the seventeenth century.

Wolfe has begun work as co-editor of Thomas Browne's Pseudodoxia Epidemica for Oxford University Press, volumes 2 and 3 (and possibly 4) of a new Complete Works of Browne under the general editorship of Claire Preston (QM, London); the project was the recipient of a £1.2 million AHRC grant. Over the past year, she has been working on Book 2 of the Pseudodoxia (on minerals and vegetables) and the real and fanciful animals of Book 3 (basilisks, ostriches, gryphons, and badgers, among other creatures), and on Books 4 and 6, whose subjects range from human physiology and anthropology to geography and biblical chonology. Wolfe has been the recipient of fellowships from the Huntington Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the John Carter Brown Library, and most recently (2014-15), the NEH, which awarded her an eight-month fellowship to conduct research at the Newberry Library and at the Herzog August Bibliothek.

Professor Wolfe's teaching interests include the history of science, the history of the book, the history of classical scholarship in the Renaissance, epic and romance, and continental (especially French, Italian, and Latin) Renaissance literature. She has taught graduate courses on science and poetry in the Renaissance, on classical literature and English humanism, on problems of interpretation in Renaissance humanism, on poetry and politics in Tudor England, and on European literature of the Renaissance from Petrarch to Quevedo. Her most recent graduate course, co-taught with Tania String (History of Art) was offered in fall 2014 as "Humanism and the human in Renaissance literature and art" and she will offer another graduate seminar in 2016-17.

In 2002, Wolfe was awarded the William H. Friday award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. Three times since 2002, Wolfe has received the AGES award for graduate mentoring (at both the doctoral and the M.A. level). Wolfe was selected one of three "superlative" undergraduate teachers at Carolina by the senior class of 2001.

In 2015-16, Wolfe will be speaking at Harvard University (Oct. 14, 2015), at Yale University (March 29, 2016), at the Renaissance Society of America (March 31-April 2), and at the Henry E. Huntington Library, where she is organizing a conference entitled Truth and Error in Early Modern Science: Thomas Browne and his World, to be held Jan. 22-23, 2016. 

Teaching Awards

William H Friday Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2002
Three graduate mentoring awards by the department, most recently in 2012
Favorite faculty award, 2000



Hire Date: 1998

Ph.D., Stanford University

B.A., Bryn Mawr College

Research Groups and Interests

Comparative Literature
Group III - English Literature from 1485 to 1660 (including Milton)