Jennifer Smith, Ph.D.

“Curiosity, so often triggered by a book or class discussion, inspires students to investigate the world and their own place in it. My teaching emphasizes the ideals of the liberal arts education: to be critical thinkers and conscientious citizens.”


Department chair; associate professor of English and creative writing

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Indiana University – Bloomington, IN
  • M.A., Indiana University – Bloomington, IN
  • B.A., Ball State University – Muncie, IN

Study abroad in London, England and Germany

Year Joined Franklin



Nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture, specializing in narrative theory, gender studies, and comparative ethnic approaches

How do you teach American literature?

My philosophy of teaching American literature emphasizes the ongoing creation of literary traditions from vernacular, local materials. For example, you will study how eighteenth-century novels arose from a culture of letter writing, and you will see how twenty-first century stories draw on Twitter and PowerPoint for inspiration.

So many employers complain about workers who cannot write. How do your classes prepare students for the workplace?

The more I teach writing, the more I realize that there is no single, correct way to do so; my aim is to give students multiple ways to understand their own writing process. My classes prepare students to know themselves as writers and to be able to work independently — employers are looking for that combination of self-direction and competence.

Selected Professional Accomplishments


The American Short Story Cycle. Edinburgh University Press, 2018. (paperback 2019)

Articles and Book Chapters

Glaspell’s Short Fiction and Magazine Culture.” forthcoming in Susan Glaspell and Her Contexts, edited by J. Ellen Gainor, Cambridge University Press, 2020.

“Autobiography, Modernism, and the Midwest,” The American Midwest in a Scattering Time: How Modernism Met Midwestern Culture. Ed. Sara Kosiba. Hastings, NE: Hastings College P, 2018.

Short-listed for the 2019 David D. Anderson Award for Outstanding Essay in Midwestern Literary Studies by the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.

“Collection, Cycles, Sequences,” The Edinburgh Companion to the Short Story. Eds. Paul Delaney and Adrian Hunter. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2018.

“Teaching the Short-Story Cycle, Teaching American Literature,” Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 16.2 (2016).

“Sherwood Anderson and the Contemporary Short-Story Cycle,” Rodopi Dialogue Series: Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. Ed. Precious McKenzie Stearns. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2016.

“The Short Story Cycle in American Fiction,” in Critical Insights: The American Short Story. Eds. Michael Cocchiarale and Scott D. Emmert. Amenia, NY: Grey House, 2015.

“Writing Ritual, Resisting Resolution: The Short Story Cycles of Hemingway and Steinbeck.” Short Fiction in Theory and Practice 3.2 (2013): 175-192.

“Locating the Short-Story Cycle.” The Journal of the Short Story in English 57 (2011): 59-79.

“Birthed and Buried: Matrilineal History in Michelle Cliff’s No Telephone to Heaven.” Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 9.1 (2009): 141-162.

Additional Publications

“The Story Cycle,” forthcoming in The Encyclopedia of American Fiction, 1980-2020, edited by Patrick O’Donnell, Stephen J. Burn and Lesley Larkin, Wiley-Blackwell.

“Sherwood Anderson.” Encyclopedia entry and annotated bibliography forthcoming in Short Story Criticism, Gale.

“6 Books for TV Lovers.” Edinburgh University Press Blog. 14 Dec. 2017,

“Born in the Workshop: The MFA and the Short-Story Cycle.” Triquarterly Online, Jan. 2012.

“Dean Young’s Fall Higher.” Indiana Review, vol. 33, no. 2, 2012.

Selected Presentations

“How New Media Becomes Generic: Jennifer Egan’s Experiments in Form,” Contemporary Authors, Society for the American Short Story, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 2019.

“Returning to Winesburg, Ohio in Literary Criticism,” Winesburg: Ohio: The First 100 Years, Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, East Lansing, Michigan, May 2019.

“For Emmett and Trayvon: Elegies that Bear Witness,” Multiethnic Literatures of the United States, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 2019.

“Writing Serena Williams in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Anne Helen Petersen’s The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman,” American Literature Area, Popular Culture Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, March 2018.

“A Rational Vileness: The Place of the Zong in Philip and D’Aguiar,” Languaging Landscapes: Race and Nature in the Global South, The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, Louisville, Kentucky, February 2018.

“Morphing Genres: Novels in Flash and Flash Cycles,” The American Short Story: An Expansion of the Genre, Savannah, Georgia, October 2016.

In Our Time and in This Place: Making Fiction in the Midwest,” Hemingway Society Conference, Oak Park, Illinois, July 2016.

“Writing Home: The Contemporary Midwestern Short Story Cycle,” Contemporary Fiction of the Midwest, Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, East Lansing, Michigan, June 2016.

“Curating Modernism: Margaret Anderson’s Chicago Cosmopolitanism,” Midwestern Modernism, American Literature Association, San Francisco, California, May 2016.

“Viral Languages in Gertrude Stein, Neil Stephenson, and Jennifer Egan,” Transforming Contagion, Arizona State University—West, Phoenix, Arizona, October 2015


Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Twentieth-Century Chicago, 1893-1955, National Endowment for the Humanities, Newberry Library (Summer 2013).

Variations on Blackness, Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and Department of Comparative Literature (2005-2006).

What Students Say

“Within the English department and within her American Minority Literature class, Dr. Smith has challenged the way I think about myself and literature. The assigned texts and class discussions have led me to examine the ways I identify myself: as an American, as a woman, and as a part of the majority. Her class is ultimately the study of human motivation, a versatile skill I will use in an abundance of situations throughout the rest of my life. Furthermore, Dr. Smith has begun to prepare me for the rigors of graduate school, as well as for the demands of the professional world, ensuring that by the time I depart from Franklin, I will be well-prepared.” – Anna Meer ’17

In My Spare Time…

In my spare time I watch and re-watch beloved television shows such as Parks and Recreation and Friday Night Lights. I admire how each show depicts characters who really love their jobs, their co-workers, and the people they work for. I want to be like Leslie Knope and Coach Taylor.