Leila S. May received her doctorate in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a Mellon Fellow, and was awarded a post-°©‐‑doctoral Lectureship. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of English at NC State University, where she has been on the faculty since 1995. As an undergraduate she attended Mills College in Oakland, California, where she double majored in English Literature and Philosophy and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Her principal area of focus is the nineteenth-°©‐‑century British novel and culture, with a particular emphasis on gender issues and women’ʹs roles and representations. She has taught a wide range of courses, including classes on the Victorian Novel, the Female Gothic, Women and Madness, The Dickens Universe, Ghosts, Lunatics, and Lovers: The Brontë Sisters, Women in Literature: Alternative Narratives, and a University Honors seminar called Monstrosity, Madness, and Marginality. Dr. May is currently Director of the English Honors Program and a member of the Executive Council on Women’s and Gender Studies, the University Honors Advisory Committee, and the Masters in Liberal Studies (MALS) Advisory Council. She has served as an elected member of the Executive Council of the Pacific Modern Language Association (PAMLA), and has been a reader for a number of nationally recognized journals such as Victorian Studies, Victorian Review, Lit (Literature/Interpretation/Theory), Victorian Newsletter, RaVoN (Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net), and Pacific Coast Philology. She has published articles on eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and American literature in a number of peer-reviewed academic journals such as ELH, Criticism, Philological Quarterly, Modern Language Studies, SEL, Philosophy and Literature, and Modern Language Review, as well as a book‑length study titled Disorderly Sisters: Sibling Relations andSororal Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Literature that examines the pivotal role of the sister figure in nineteenth-century literary representations. Her most recent book, Dialectics of Secrecy and Disclosure in Victorian Fiction, was published by Routledge in 2016.
Director, Honors Program, Department of English, 2010-2017
Masters in Liberal Studies (MALS) Advisory Council, 2011-present
Women’s and Gender Studies Executive Council, 2001-present
University Honors Advisory Board, 2014-present
- Tue: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Thu: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Disorderly Sisters: Sibling Relations and Sororal Resistance in Nineteenth-Century British Literature. Lewisburg and London: Bucknell University Press, 2001.
The Paradox of Duplicity: The Dialectics of Secrecy and Disclosure in the Victorian Novel (Forthcoming, Routledge, 2016)
Articles and Reviews
“’Who’s to be master?’: Lewis Carroll and J. L. Austin.” Forthcoming, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies
“Brontë’s Material Girl? Phrenology, Surveillance and the Sociology of Interiority.” Criticism (Winter 2013): 43-68.
“How Lucy Snowe Became an Amnesiac.” Bronte Studies 34.3 (November 2009): 220-233.
“The Sociology of Thackeray’s “Howling Wilderness”: Selfishness, Secrecy and Performance in Vanity Fair,” Modern Language Studies 37.1 (Summer 2007): 18-41.
Solicited Review of Carolyn Lesjak, Working Fictions: A Genealogy of the Victorian Novel. Duke University Press, 2006. Victorians Institute Journal 35 (2007): 294-299.
“Language-Games and Nonsense: Wittgenstein’s Reflection in Carroll’s Looking-Glass,” Philosophy and Literature 31.1 (Spring 2007): 79-94.
“Jane Austen’s ‘Schemes of Sisterly Happiness,’” Philological Quarterly 81.4 (2002): 327-58. [Appeared November 2004]
Solicited review of Richard A. Kaye, The Flirt’s Tragedy: Desire Without End in Victorian and Edwardian Fiction. University of Virginia Press, 2002. Victorians Institute Journal 31 (2003): 219-225.
Solicited review of Valerie Sanders, The Brother-Sister Culture in Nineteenth-Century Literature: From Austen to Woolf. Palgrave, 2002, in Victorian Studies 45.4 (Summer 2003): 738-40.
“‘Monkeys, Microcephalous Idiots, and the Barbarous Races of Mankind’: Darwin’s Dangerous Victorianism,” Victorian Newsletter (Spring 2003): 20-27.
“The Strong-Arming of Desire: A Reconsideration of Nancy Armstrong’s Desire and Domestic Fiction,” ELH (Winter 2001): 267-85.
“‘Foul things of the night’: Dread in the Victorian Body,” Modern Language Review 93.1 (January 1998): 16-22.
“Sibling Revelry in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” Studies in English Literature 35.4 (Autumn 1995): 669-85.
“‘A strange family story’: Sensational Sisters in Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White,” Pacific Coast Philology 30 (September 1995): 82-102.
“The Violence of the Letter: Clarissa and Familial Bo(u)nds,” English Language Notes 32.5 (March 1995): 38-46.
“‘Sympathies of a Scarcely Intelligible Nature’: The Brother-Sister Bond in Poe’s ‘Fall of the House of Usher,’” Studies in Short Fiction 30.3 (Summer 1993): 387-96.
“‘Eat me, drink me, love me’: Orality, Sexuality and the Fruits of Sororal Desire in ‘Gob(b)lin(g) Market’ and Beloved,” in The Significance of Sibling Relationships in Literature, ed. JoAnna Stephens Mink and Janet Doubler Ward (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, l993), 133-48.
“All-Consuming Secrets in Bleak House,” Victorians Institute Conference, Asheville, NC, November 2018.
“All the Reflected Light We Cannot See: Mirror Imagery in Victorian Fiction,” NAVSA/BAVSA, Florence, Italy, May 2017.Chair, Panel: Transformation and Transgression in the Brontës, NAVSA/BAVSA, Florence, Italy, May 2017.
“The Horror of the Hirsute Body: Victorian Fears of Atavism,” Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies (PCCBS),
Pasadena, CA, April 2016
“Detecting Holmes’s Readers,” Pacific Modern Language Association, Portland, OR, November 2015.
“Monstrous Binaries: An Approach to Teaching Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” Humanities Education and
Research Association (HERA), San Francisco, CA, April 2015.
““Who’s to be master?”: Lewis Carroll and J. L. Austin,” Panel: Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Culture,
Pacific Modern Language Association (PAMLA), Riverside, CA, October 2014.
“The Mystery of History: Secrecy in Bulwer-Lytton’s Historical Novel Leila,” Victorians Institute Conference,
Charlotte, NC, October 2014 “Lucy Snowe and the Desert Sands of Elsewhere,” North American/British Victorian Studies
Associations, Venice, Italy, June 2013.
“Erving Goffman, the Cheshire Cat, and Lady Audley’s Secret,” Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies
(PCCBS), University of California, Berkeley, March 2013. “Combative Spiritualism in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette.” Panel: Transcontinental Spiritualism,
Nineteenth-Century Studies Association (NCSA), Asheville, NC, March 2012.
Ph.D. English Literature University of California, Berkeley 1994
Area(s) of Expertise
Dr. May's principal area of interest is the nineteenth-century British novel and culture, with a particular focus on gender issues and women's roles and representations. She has published articles on eighteenth-, nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and American literature in a number of academic journals such as ELH, Studies in English Literature, Philosophy and Literature, Criticism, Philological Quarterly and Modern Language Review, as well as a book titled Disorderly Sisters: Sibling Relations and Sororal Resistance in Nineteenth-Century Literature, that examines the pivotal role of the sister figure in nineteenth-century prose fiction. Her most recent book, Dialectics of Secrecy and Disclosure in Victorian Fiction was published by Routledge in 2016. She is also active in the Women's and Gender Studies program.