Dr. Jessica Barr


Associate Professor of English &
Director of the Honors Program at

Eureka College





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Current courses:

ENG330W Seminar in British Literature: The Legends of King Arthur

The legends of King Arthur have been favorite stories for years—more than a thousand years, in fact. But those legends have changed dramatically from one retelling to the next, and they continue to change as modern authors and filmmakers rework the stories to a variety of ends and through a variety of lenses. In this course, we will explore the shifting shape of the Arthurian cycle from the early Middle Ages to the twenty-first century, considering how (and why) Arthur has infiltrated the popular imagination.

ENG233 British Literature II: Romanticism through the Twentieth Century

A survey of British literature from the late 18th century to the present. The course covers the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods, and closes with contemporary literature.

Office hours (Spring 2013):

Tuesday 2-4, Wednesday 2-3, Friday 11-12, and by appointment.

My office is located in Burrus Dickinson 301.

ENG301W Advanced Academic Writing and Research


This course is meant to help students understand the demands, conventions, and values of writing in their particular fields. The focus of the course is the production of a substantial research paper that accords with the standards of the student’s major discipline and that explores a topic of interest to the student.

Additional resources for British Literature II:



Essential handouts for Honors students:


Recent courses:


  • ENG425W Literature and the Technologies of Textual Production, Fall 2011 (Syllabus)
  • ENG425W Feminism and Literature, Fall 2010 (Syllabus)
  • ENG330W Seminar in British Literature: Chaucer, Spring 2011 (Syllabus)
  • ENG231 British Literature I, offered every Fall (Syllabus)


 Chaucer resources (for ENG231):



I teach British and European Literature; my usual courses include the British Literature surveys and seminars in British, European, and Classical Literature. In the past, I’ve taught seminars on Gender and the Body in the Middle Ages, Feminism and Literature, and “The Poetics of Inspiration,” a course in which we explored writing that claimed to be inspired by everything from God to opium.


My research focuses on medieval literature, particularly mystical and vision literature of the later Middle Ages. I am especially interested in women’s writing from the medieval period, visionary and mystical literature, and dream vision poetry. My publications include an article on the thirteenth-century mystic Beatrice of Nazareth in issue 23.3 (2011) of Exemplaria, an exploration of the role of the creative imagination in medieval visions of the Otherworld appeared in the March 2011 issue of Connotations: A Journal of Literary Debate, and an article on the creation of narrative personae in medieval English mystical texts (forthcoming in Sanctity and Literature, University of Manchester Press). My book, Willing to Know God: Dreamers and Visionaries in the Later Middle Ages, was published in September 2010 by Ohio State University Press. My other publications include “The Meaning of the Word: Language and Understanding in Marguerite d’Oingt (Mystics Quarterly March/June 2007, and I co-author the chapter on Geoffrey Chaucer for Oxford University Press’s annual Year’s Work in English Studies.


I earned a B.A. in English with a creative writing concentration at Oberlin College in 1997, and my M.A. (2003) and Ph.D. (2007) in Comparative Literature at Brown University. In the fall of 2007, I joined Eureka’s faculty where, in addition to directing Eureka’s Honors program, I am the faculty advisor for the Theta Lambda chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society.


Off-campus, I enjoy fiction of all kinds (both reading and writing it), yoga, cooking, knitting, book-binding, and travel. Recently I spent a month in France and a week reading medieval manuscripts in Belgium, but in the last few years I’ve traveled as far as Cambodia and China.


Contact information:

Eureka College

300 East College Avenue

Eureka, Illinois 61530

(309) 467-6337