Department Chair:
Jeffrey Pence

Administrative Assistant:
Sue Elkevizth

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8570
Fax: (440) 775-8684

Rice Hall 130
10 North Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Jessica Kuskey

Jessica Kuskey

Educational Background

  • B.A., Central Connecticut State University, 2002
  • M.A., New York University, 2004
  • Ph.D., Syracuse University, 2012

My research and teaching interests center on nineteenth-century British literature and culture; Science Fiction; and the history of science and technology. I especially enjoy researching Victorian periodicals, which published installments of serialized novels alongside articles on recent scientific discoveries, demands for social reform, and news about the expanding British Empire and its diverse subjects. Most of my research projects in fact began when my close readings led me outside of the text to uncover where else nineteenth-century readers may have encountered similar language and imagery. I’m eager to share my research with the students here at Oberlin, particularly through emphasizing the material, scientific, and technological contexts of Victorian literature. I’m also looking forward to working with students as we uncover additional primary sources together through research in digitized archives and Mudd Library’s rare books room.

I’ve recently defended my dissertation, titled “The Body Machinic: Technology, Labor, and Mechanized Bodies in Victorian Culture,” to complete my PhD in English at Syracuse University. My dissertation project began when I observed numerous images of laboring bodies turning into machines in a wide range of cultural responses to the newly mechanized industrial labor process, including reform literature, working-class autobiography, industrial novels, and mathematical theory. A piece of this research, my essay “Math and the Mechanical Mind: Charles Babbage, Charles Dickens, and Mental Labor in Little Dorrit,” is forthcoming in Dickens Studies Annual. In addition to my interest in bodies and machines, I’ve also been researching nineteenth-century energy science, which will be the topic of my second book project, Victorian Energy Crises. My essay on popularizations of thermodynamics and Charles Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend won the SLSA Bruns Prize and is forthcoming in Victorian Literature and Culture. And I’m currently working on an article examining the ways Victorian inventors and authors similarly pursued imaginative solutions to energy problems, focusing on the examples of so-called perpetual motion machines and Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s science fiction novel The Coming Race. I’ve also begun research for an essay on the Electrophone or “pleasure telephone,” used in the 1890s as a technology for broadcasting music, religious sermons, and news to subscribers.