- 19th Century British Literature and Culture
- Cultural Studies
- Gender Studies
- Race and Ethnicity Studies
- Transnational Literature
- Victorian Literature and Culture
- Travel Writing
- Literature and Medicine
- Health Humanities
- Postcolonial Studies
- Women’s and Gender Studies
Honors and Awards:
- T3 award, “The Global Health Humanities” (collaborators Violet Showers Johnson and Laura Dague)
- PESCA Award, 2016
- Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Fellow Centre for the Humanities and Health, King’s College London
Malaria and Victorian Fictions of Empire. Cambridge University Press, December 2018
Series: Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture
The impact of malaria on humankind has been profound. Focusing on depictions of this iconic ‘disease of empire’ in nineteenth-century and postcolonial fiction, Jessica Howell shows that authors such as Charles Dickens, Henry James, H. Rider Haggard, Olive Schreiner, and Rudyard Kipling did not simply adopt the discourses of malarial containment and cure offered by colonial medicine. Instead, these authors adapted and rewrote some common associations with malarial images such as swamps, ruins, mosquitoes, blood, and fever. They also made use of the unique potential of fiction by incorporating chronic, cyclical illness, bodily transformation and adaptation within the very structures of their novels. Howell’s study also examines the postcolonial literature of Amitav Ghosh and Derek Walcott, arguing that these authors use the multivalent and subversive potential of malaria in order to rewrite the legacies of colonial medicine.
Exploring Victorian Travel Literature: Disease, Race and Climate. Edinburgh University Press, 2014
This interdisciplinary study explores both the personal and political significance of climate in the Victorian imagination. It analyses foreboding imagery of miasma, sludge and rot across non-fictional and fictional travel narratives, speeches, private journals and medical advice tracts. Well-known authors such as Joseph Conrad are placed in dialogue with minority writers such as Mary Seacole and Africanus Horton in order to understand their different approaches to representing white illness abroad.
- “The Boy Doctor of Empire: Malaria and Mobility in Kipling’s Kim.” Literature and Medicine 34.1, 158-84. 2016.
- “Nursing Empire: Travel Letters from Africa and the Caribbean.” Studies in Travel Writing 17.1, 62-77. 2013.
- “Mrs. Seacole Prescribes Hybridity: Constitutional and Maternal Rhetoric in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands.” Victorian Literature and Culture 38,107-25. 2010.
- “‘Self rather seedy’: Climate and Pathography in Conrad’s African Fiction.” Literature and Medicine 27.2, 223-47. 2008.