Jesse Njus holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama. She has taught at many prestigious universities including Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, Fordham University’s Department of English, New York University’s Department of Drama, and the University of California-Santa Barbara, where she held a joint appointment in the Departments of English and Theater/Dance as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow.
Jesse is a teacher, scholar, and dramaturg who specializes in pre-modern Global Theatre History, stretching from the ancient world through the early modern period. Her work combines the study of theatre and performance with gender/queer studies, postcolonial studies, race studies, and religious studies. As a dramaturg, Jesse has worked on productions ranging from Peter and the Starcatcher (University of Pittsburgh) to a kabuki Trojan Woman (University of Wisconsin-Madison).
Jesse’s award-winning article, “The Politics of Mysticism: Elisabeth of Spalbeek in Context,” appeared in Church History and is the first full historical study of Elisabeth, a mid-thirteenth-century female performer of Christ’s passion. Jesse also published an article in Theatre Journal arguing that Elisabeth’s performance demonstrates how the practice of imitatio Christi (the imitation of Christ) underpinned the techniques and motivations of acting in vernacular religious dramas. In addition, Jesse published an article in Fifteenth-Century Studies (July 2013) on the importance of Englishwoman Margery Kempe to the study of theatrical spectatorship, and her essay comparing the staging techniques of medieval pageants depicting the Last Supper is included in the collection Food and Theatre on the World Stage (Routledge 2015) edited by Dorothy Chansky and Ann White.