Janine Utell

Janine Utell, PhD

  • Chair of English
  • Professor of English
Media Expertise:
  • Gender & Sexuality
  • Arts & Culture
  • Communications & Marketing

Programs I Teach


  • PhD, British Literature and 20th Century Studies (2003)
    CUNY--Graduate Center

About Me

I teach our first-year writing courses Reading, Thinking, Writing and Literature and Critical Writing, as well as courses in film, life writing, graphic narrative, and 19th-20th century British fiction. I also lead our Senior Seminar for English majors every few years, with a focus on James Joyce's novel Ulysses. What connects all of these is an interest in narrative, how it works, and the importance of storytelling in modern life across media and genres. I am also committed to ensuring that the humanities and liberal arts play an essential role in undergraduate education and in our society. In addition to teaching and writing, I am the editor of the journal, The Space Between: Literature and Culture 18901945, and I blog for Inside Higher Ed

I try in each of my courses and in all of my interactions with students to foster a love of literature and the humanities and to model both the rigor and the excitement available to those who ask big questions confronting us as human beings and as citizens. I ask not only what a story means, but what it means for us as people, as thinkers, as friends, as workers, and as members of our society. I want my students to feel nurtured by a professor who cares about their well-being, challenged by a professor who insists they ask hard questions, made a little uncomfortable by a professor who refuses to give the "right" answer, and excited by a professor who is always looking for something new. And I want to be that professor who is made to feel the same way by her students and who works to create opportunities for all of these things to happen in every course she teaches.

Research Interests

My research interests include narrative theory, literature and philosophy (especially ethics), gender, modernism, and the intersections thereof. My specific projects concentrate on the representation of intimate life in narrative; I am working on two books, one analyzing the use of narrative technique in fiction, nonfiction, and film about couplehood, and the other an introduction to the study of narrative, forthcoming from Routledge.


  • Utell, Janine. "The View from the Sickroom: Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Writing Women's Lives of Illness." Life Writing (2014): 1–19. Web.
  • Utell, Janine. "Game Changing: Moneyball, Adaptation, and the Inspirational Sports Movie." Aethlon (2013): 1–20. Web.
  • Utell, Janine. James Joyce and the Revolt of Love: Marriage, Adultery, Desire. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

Modernist Studies Association (MSA), International Society for Study of Narrative (ISSN), The Space Between


  • Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, Lindback Foundation/Widener University (2014)
  • College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Widener University (2014)
  • Miller Award for Best Article Published in the CEA Critic, College English Association (2013)


In the Media


  • English Chair Janine Utell Publishes Book "Teaching Modernist Women's Writing in English"

    Professor Janine Utell, chair of English, edited the book, "Teaching Modernist Women's Writing in English". The essays in the volume explore formal aspects and thematic concerns of modernism while also challenging rigid notions of what constitutes literary value as well as the idea of a canon with fixed boundaries.

    The essays contextualize modernist women's writing in the material and political concerns of the early twentieth century and in life on the home front during wartime. They consider the original print contexts of the works and propose fresh digital approaches for courses ranging from high school through graduate school. Suggested assignments provide opportunities for students to write creatively and critically, recover forgotten literary works, and engage with their communities.

    The book will be available for purchase on July 1, 2021 and was published by Modern Language Association of America.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/english-chair-janine-utell-publishes-book-teaching-modernist-womens-writing-english

  • Chair of English Janine Utell Accepted as Public Fellow at the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities

    Professor Janine Utell, chair of English, has been accepted as a 2020-2021 Public Fellow at the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. As part of the cohort, she will join a group of faculty, students, and other public scholars from the University of Tulsa for an in-depth exploration of Rage. The fellowship was originally designed to admit public fellows from the Tulsa area, but the shift to digital programming and meeting allowed Utell to join the cohort. She is in the first non-Tulsan to join the group since the Center began.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/news/noteworthy/chair-english-janine-utell-accepted-public-fellow-oklahoma-center-humanities

  • Faculty Receive Grant for Human Sexuality Archives Project

    Widener awarded Professor of English Janine Utell and Librarian Molly Wolf a Faculty Development Grant for a Human Sexuality Archives project entitled “Early 20th-Century Sexuality and Culture: A Guide to the Archive.” A continuation of a Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (SURCA) project led by an undergraduate student research assistant, the goal is to create a digital resource to be housed on the library website page for the Human Sexuality Archives and available to researchers interested in early 20th-century cultures and texts of sexuality and sexology. As there is a wealth of material in this area available in the Human Sexuality Archives the aim is to make this material discoverable and usable to other researchers through an annotated guide focusing on early 20th-century memoirs, marriage and hygiene manuals, and other sexological texts.

    Share link: https://www.widener.edu/node/12831

  • Janine Utell writes book "Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing"

    Janine Utell, professor and chair of English, recently wrote a book "Literary Couples and 20th-Century Life Writing," which was published by Bloomsbury. Exposing how modernist and late-modernist writers tell the stories of their intimate relationships though life writing, the book engages with the process by which these authors become subjects to a significant other, a change that subsequently becomes narrative within their works. Looking specifically at partners in a couple, Utell focuses on such literary pairings as Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland, Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy, and Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

    Share Link: https://www.widener.edu/node/11626/