Jessica DeSpain is Professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is the co-director of SIUE’s IRIS Center for the Digital Humanities. She is the author of Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book (Routledge, 2014), and the lead editor of The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, an exploration of the reprints of Susan Warner’s bestselling nineteenth-century novel. DeSpain co-edited the collection Teaching with Digital Humanities (U Illinois P, 2018). She also collaborated with faculty in English, History, Education, and STEM on the NSF-funded Digital East St. Louis Project, in which middle school students built a digital project about the history and culture of their city. She is currently the director of the NEH-funded Conversation Toward a Brighter Future project wherein middle and high school students participate in digital storytelling studios about the value of intergenerational relationships and the Digital Community Engagement Pathway an interdisciplinary general education innovation that uses digital humanities practices to address local manifestations of global problems; the project is currently in the planning stages and funded by an NEH Humanities Connection Grant.


Ph.D., English, May 2008, University of Iowa
British and American literature from 1820 – 1920 and History of the Book

Graduate Certificate, Center for the Book, May 2008, University of Iowa
Coursework in book history, bookbinding, printing, and papermaking

B.A., 2001, Mount St. Clare College, Clinton, IA
Liberal arts, concentration in language arts, secondary education endorsement


Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Reprinting and the Embodied Book. Routledge, 2014. ISBN: 9781409432005

Jennifer Travis and Jessica DeSpain, edited with introduction, Teaching with Digital Humanities: Tools and Methods for Nineteenth-Century American Literature. U of Illinois P, November 2018. ISBN: 9780252042232.

“Transatlantic Book Distribution.” Walt Whitman in Context. Ed. Joanna Levin and Edward Whitley, Cambridge, 2018.

Lora Smallman and Jessica DeSpain, “Informal Learning Teams and the Digital Humanities: A Case Study of Faculty/Librarian Collaboration.” Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies & Best Practices. Ed. Stephanie Davis-Kahl and Merinda Kaye Hensley. American Library Association, 2017.

“Women’s Roles in Antislavery and Civil War Literature” Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War. Ed. Colleen Glenney Boggs. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2016.

“A Feminist DH Pedagogy Beyond the Classroom.” Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy 26.1 (2016): 64-73.

“Personal Interface and Feminist Pedagogy at The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, or What Jane Manages Before Afternoon Tea.” Polymath: An Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Journal 3.3 (2013): 27-34.

“Ellen’s English Dress: Women’s Religious Practice in America and the British Reprints of Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World.” Symbiosis: a Journal of Anglo-American Literature Relations 16.1 (2012): 113-134.

“On Building Things: Student-Designed Print and Digital Exhibits in the Book History Classroom.” Transformations: the Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy. 23.1 (2011): 25-36.

Blog Posts


    Lead Editor, The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition, 2005 – present

    Curriculum Director, Digital East St. Louis, 2015 – 2018
    Faculty in the humanities worked alongside STEM experts and middle school teachers to develop a comprehensive after-school program for middle school students. Over the three-year program, students built a website showcasing their research into the history and culture of the city.

    Digital Humanities Clubs, Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities, 2017 – 2018
    An evolution of Digital East St. Louis, digital humanities clubs serve twenty middle school students in Madison and Venice, Illinois with the support of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities.


    Society for the Study of American Women Writers, 2008-present

    Jessica DeSpain

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