Jesse Njus, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor - Theatre History

Department of Theatre

woman with sunglasses and bun smiling and standing next to the parthenon

Department of Theatre

Contact Info

Dr. Jesse Njus currently teaches graduate and undergraduate theatre history at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Njus has previously dramaturged for the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Theatre Arts, taught at Carnegie Mellon University, served as a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the English Department at Fordham University, spent two years as an associate teacher in the Department of Drama at New York University, and spent two years as an ACLS New Faculty Fellow at the University of California-Santa Barbara, where she held a joint appointment in the Departments of English and Theater/Dance. Dr. Njus received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University under the supervision of Barbara Newman and has taught a wide range of classes on medieval literature and global theatre while participating in numerous conferences such as MLA, the Medieval Academy of America, the International Congress on Medieval Studies, the New Chaucer Society, the American Society for Theatre Research, the Mid-America Theatre Conference, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Society of Dance History Scholars, and the Folger Library’s colloquium “Teaching Medieval Drama and Performance.” Dr. Njus’s award-winning article “The Politics of Mysticism: Elisabeth of Spalbeek in Context,” which appeared in Church History, is the first full historical study of Elisabeth, a mid-thirteenth-century female performer of Christ’s passion. Dr. Njus 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, Dr. Njus published an article in Fifteenth-Century Studies (July 2013) on the importance of Englishwoman Margery Kempe to the study of theatrical spectatorship, and Dr. Njus’s 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. Dr. Njus directed As You Like It and co-directed Machinal at Virginia Commonwealth University, and she has also led two summer-session study abroad groups to Athens, Greece for VCU. During the pandemic, Dr. Njus started the Ask a Medievalist podcast with Emily Lupton, and she is currently co-editing The Global Middle Ages: Global Drama with Rob Barrett as part of the Cambridge series on the Global Middle Ages.