For more than thirty-five years, I have guided college readers through some of the most well-known texts of the Western literary canon: The Iliad, Beowulf, Dante's The Divine Comedy, Wyatt and Surrey's Petrarchan sonnets, Shakespeare's plays, Milton's Paradise Lost.  I am not always successful—one recent student, encountering Beowulf for the first time, told me that she found him to be as "loathsome" as the monster Grendel.  Even so, that unfortunate experience didn't deter her from taking another class where we read Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies together.  My Beowulf-loathing student suddenly fell in love with medieval literature.

As this student's response shows, newly rediscovered works by women writers have changed the discipline of English literature, and I've enjoyed teaching courses that incorporate these texts: Five Feminist Classics, Medieval Women Writers, Renaissance Women as Readers and Writers, and, most recently, Reading Women's Worlds.  Along with my students, I've read and enjoyed the lyrics of Sappho, the prison writing of Perpetua of Carthage, the sparkling romances of Marie de France, the spiritual writings of mystics from Hildegard of Bingen to Teresa of Ávila, the love lyrics of Lady Mary Wroth, and the witty, gender-bending comedies of Margaret Cavendish.

My research spans these same two poles.  I have written both traditional political history of the reign of Henry VIII as well as a counternarrative of that history, focusing on women, politics, and power in the sixteenth century.  More recently, I have explored the theme of women writers imagining "rooms of their own," I've examined contemporary issues in a series of personal essays on women, gender, and popular culture, and I have published editions of two extraordinary feminist polemics by the English writer Mary Astell, both prepared for classroom use.

This site will introduce you to the range of my work and keep you posted on what's new.  I am also now blogging at The Monstrous Regiment of Women: A Women's History Daybook. For more information, click on the "Blog" tab, above. And please contact me if you would like more information about any of my projects, past or present.

—Sharon L. Jansen