Dr. Jessica Barr

Dr. Jessica Barr


Willing to Know God book cover

Associate Professor of English

Office: Burrus Dickinson 301
Phone: (309) 467-6337
Email: jbarr@eureka.edu
Website: http://ww1.eureka.edu/emp/Barr/


PhD, Comparative Literature, Brown University, 2007
MA, Comparative Literature, Brown University, 2003
BA, English, Oberlin College, 1997

Research Interests

Medieval literature, especially visionary, devotional, and dream vision literature; Chaucer; feminist theory and criticism; early women’s writing

Teaching Interests

British and European literature; Classical literature; academic writing.

Specialized courses include “The Legends of King Arthur”; “Literature and the Technologies of Textual Production”; Chaucer; Shakespeare; “Feminism and Literature: Theory, Reflection, Practice”; and “The Uncanny.”

Professional Activity

Selected Publications:

Willing to Know God: Dreamers and Visionaries in the Later Middle Ages. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2010.

“Modeling Holiness: Self-Fashioning and Sanctity in Late-Medieval English Mystical Literature.” Sanctity and Literature: Interfaces of the Text and the Holy in Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-Century England. Ed. Anke Bernau and Eva van Costen. Manchester, UK: University of Manchester Press. (Forthcoming.)

“Reading Wounds: Embodied Mysticism in a Fourteenth-Century Codex.” Magistra: A Journal of Women’s Spirituality in History 19.1 (2013): 27-39.

“The Secret Chamber of Her Mind: Interpreting Inner Experience in the Vita of Beatrice of Nazareth.” Exemplaria: A Journal of Theory in Medieval and Renaissance Studies 23.3 (2011): 219-41.

“Creative Imagination and Didactic Intent in Medieval Visions of the Otherworld: A Response to Fritz Kemmler.” Connotations: A Journal of Literary Debate 20.1 (2010-2011): 1-11.

Recent Academic Presentations:

“Reading Wounds: Embodied Mysticism in a Fourteenth-Century Codex.” International Congress on Medieval Studies, The Medieval Institute of Western Michigan University, May 2013.

“Inimitable Exemplars: Gertrude of Helfta and the Problem of Writing.” Meeting of the Modern Language Association, January 2012.

“The Wounded Text: Word and Image in a Fourteenth-Century Codex.” Eureka College Faculty Colloquium, December 2011.

“Body Language: The Semiotics of Saintly Bodies in Medieval Women’s Hagiography.” Seeing, Hearing, Reading and Believing: Authorities in the Middle Ages, Helsinki, Finland, September 2010.

“Divine, Demonic, or Misunderstood: Visions of God in the Middle Ages.” Clarence R. Noe Dean’s Lecture, Eureka College, October 13, 2009.

“Holy Women and Devout Readers: Modeling Interpretive Practice in Beatrice of Nazareth and Margery Kempe.” International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, July 2009.

“Resisting Reason: Authority and Desire in The Romance of the Rose and Piers Plowman.” 44th International Congress on Medieval Studies, The Medieval Institute of Western Michigan University, May 2009.


Lately, I spend a great deal of time watching my young son learn about the world around him. It’s far more fascinating than I would have expected.

When I’m not working or baby-wrangling, I enjoy reading all sorts of things, yoga, knitting, and travel. Among my favorite trips are the month I spent in France with my husband, a summer in Cambodia, an all-too-short visit to Ireland with my mother, and a surprisingly excellent week in Helsinki.