Janet L. Larson

Janet L. Larson


engma [at] newark.rutgers.edu



Office Location

360 Dr. Martin L. King Blvd.
Hill Hall 529
Newark, New Jersey 07102

Office Hours

By Appointment


Associate Professor Janet L. Larson joined the Rutgers-Newark faculty in 1978 and served as Director of Composition for 7 years. Since 2000, she has directed the English Master’s Program. She teaches courses in Victorian literature; war literature; narrative theory, gender and autobiography,  women’s and gender studies; topics in history and theory of narrative and Introduction to Graduate Literary Study.  Besides 19th- and 20th-century British literature, her scholarly interests range from narrative and discourse theory, cultural studies, and feminist theory to American ethnic literature, texts of British imperialism, travel writing, film, and the ideologies and disclosure of war.

Courses Taught

Undergraduate  (*cross-listed with the Women’s Studies Program) 

Literary Masterpieces 215 (ancient literatures and cultures of Mesopotamia, Israel, Egypt, Greece)

Foundations of Literary Study (required for English majors)

Survey of English Literature

Major Victorian Authors (the Brontes, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, cross-Atlantic abolitionist poetry, 

England’s “Poetesses”) *

Victorian Period I and II

Sexual Politics in Victorian Literature;* 

The Late Victorian Imagination

The English Novel

Modern British Fiction

Topics in Women and Literature: Women's Autobiography *; Writing War and Gender *

Women in Literature *

The Bible as Literature I and II

Women's Perspectives on Biblical Literature *

Religion and Modern Literature

Rites of Passage (Freshman Seminar)

I/Eye-Witness: Autobiography Meets History (Honors College Humanities Seminar)



Introduction to Graduate Literary Study (required course)

The Bible and Its Literary Influences

Victorian Literature

Victorians in Love

Topics in Victorian Literature and Culture: Poetry

Studies in Fiction

Women’s Literatures at War and Peace

Gender and Autobiography

Studies in Narrative

War Stories

Women’s Interpretation of the Bible in History and Literature (also for Master’s in Liberal Studies Program)


Dr. Larson has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the University of Utah Humanities Center, the Newberry Library, the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis. She has also received or administered grants from Rutgers Research Council, the R-N Graduate School, the Teaching Excellence Center, the Victoria Foundation, and the N.J. Dept. of Higher Education (a multi-year Major Humanities Grant for the Gender, Race, and Class Project at R-N). She received the Lionel Basney Award for academic journals articles on the Victorian feminist Josephine Butler and is listed in Contemporary Authors, World’s Who’s Who of Women, and the Dictionary of International Biography.


A.B.,   Valparaiso University 1967. Graduated with Honors and Distinction. English, Political Science.

M.A.   Northwestern University, 1968. English Literature.

Ph.D    Northwestern University, 1975. English Literature (Victorian and Early Modern).


Dr. Larson currently has two book projects in hand: The Victorian Woman’s Bible: Interpretation and Cultural Discourse in Anglo-American Women’s Letters, which examines junctures of scriptural and social interpretation in English and American women’s writings and places them into histories of ideas, literature, biblical hermeneutics, cultural discourses, and 19th-century movements of reform; and Traveling Spiritualities: Victorian Women’s Religious Encounters Abroad, a biographical and cultural study of trans-cultural releigious experiences and exchanges, and their representation in travelrelated writings by Florence Nightingale (Egypt), Mary Carpenter (India), Mary Kingsley (West Africa), Agnes Smith Lewis (Sinai), and Frances Ellen Colenso (Natal). She is also working on a monograph about Florence Nightingale and essays on the Nightingale-Jowette correspondence, Mary Astell, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Carpenter, and the autobiographical writings of the 19th-century African Methodist Episcopal preacher Jarena Lee.

In addition to her book Dickens and the Broken Scripture, Dr. Larson’s articles and reviews have appeared in Victorian Religious Discourse: New Directions in Criticism (Palgrave, 2004), Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge, 2003), Victorian Sages and Cultural Discourse (Rutgers U P, 1990), Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Victorian Studies, Dickens Quarterly, Dickens Studies Annual, Religion and Literature, Christianity and Literature, Modern Philology, and Modern Drama. An experienced journalist, before coming to Rutgers she worked as an editor and writer with The Christian Century, an ecumenical weekly magazine based in Chicago with an international circulation. One of her 30 pieces for the Century since 1975 (Redeeming the Time and the Land, on Native American land claims controversy) won the Associated Church Press Award for Best Feature on a Social Issue in Religious Journalism.