Jana Mathews


I earned my Ph.D. from Duke University and won the professional lottery when I was invited to join the English department at Rollins College. Currently, I am an associate professor who specializes in medieval and early modern British literature. Some of my favorite courses of the moment include Dirty Old Men (think Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton), Hoarders (premodern material culture) and Globetrotters, which examines travel writing produced in the Age of Exploration and Discovery.

Teaching comes first at Rollins and if I am known for one thing on campus, it is being fiercely committed to my students. To this end, I am incredibly honored to be the 2019 recipient of the Hugh F. McKean Award (given by graduating senior class to one professor for excellence in teaching) and the 2018-2019 recipient of the prestigious Cornell Distinguished Teaching Award at Rollins. I am also a fortunate former recipient of the Arthur Vining Davis Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Outstanding Faculty Award, the Professing Excellence Award and the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Service and Scholarship. I also am lucky to the be subject of a super flattering and slightly humorous profile piece about my unconventional teaching practices that you can read HERE. You can also hear me talk about some of my out-of-the box teaching strategies in this PBS interview (start at 13:00): The Power of Reading

When I'm not in the classroom, you can find me in the bowels of the library, researching and writing on a broad range of medieval and early modern topics. My academic articles and essays appear or are forthcoming in the Journal for the Study of British Culture, Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Ancient and Medieval Pasts, and in edited collections published by Cornell University Press, Bloomsbury Academic, Routledge, Bedford-St. Martin's and Brill. In addition to these scholarly projects, I also have had opportunity to connect the medieval past to the present by talking about the history of kingship and the British royal family in the local and national media.

In addition to researching and teaching on conventional academic subjects, Rollins' close proximity to Orlando's attractions has enabled me to pursue a new avenue of scholarly study: namely, the rich, nuanced and sometimes weird ways in which medieval objects, people and events are displayed, reanimated and creatively reimagined in contemporary pop culture. Some of my pop  culture medievalism courses include Dungeons & Dragons (Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Cinderella's castle, Medieval Times Dinner theater, etc.) and a class that examines the medieval source texts that inspired Game of Thrones. In 2013, I had the opportunity to partner with one of my students and alum Mark Miller to write the script for a 90-minute theatrical dinner show that was performed for over 100,000 people at Orlando's Arabian Nights Dinner Theatre. My work on medieval bible collections displayed in religious themes parks and interactive museums is featured in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture and referenced in the Wall Street Journal.

A second unexpected but equally exciting academic side interest emerged through my engagement with on-campus sororities and fraternities. You can read more about my current book project on the topic HERE.

Finally, I am a huge advocate of the liberal arts educational model and am committed to producing college graduates with majors in the Humanities who can compete in the global job market and are poised to make immediate and significant contributions to whatever professional field they choose to enter. Read a story about my first-year students' experiences writing for a real-life client and go HERE to learn more about my involvement with other campus career and life planning initiatives. 

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