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Kelly Hager

Kelly Hager
Associate Professor of English and Women's & Gender Studies
 MCB C-301F

Professor Kelly Hager is currently Chair of the English Department and was Interim Chair of the Women's & Gender Studies Department in 2010-11.  She directed the Graduate Program in Gender/Cultural Studies from 2003-2007.

Professor Hager received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.  She specializes in Victorian literature, children's literature, and television studies. Her book Dickens and the Rise of Divorce: The Failed-Marriage Plot and the Novel Tradition, was published by Ashgate in 2010, and she has also published essays on Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, children's literature and canon formation, and the Brontës and adolescence.

She is currently working on a project that considers how the novel constructs ideas of physical, intellectual and psychosexual health, combining an argument about the somatic effects of reading with an analysis of the value of participatory reading for adolescent girls and the several ways in which children's literature participates in canon formation. This project is concerned with the ways in which novel-reading is represented in nineteenth-century culture; it brings together the fields of Victorian literature and children's literature with the history of reading practices; and it studies the novel's power to shape readers as intellectuals, healthy bodies, and (albeit in a normative fashion) sexually well-adjusted subjects. A portion of this project, "Betsy and the Canon," is included in The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader (Rutgers 2003). Professor Hager is also a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature and to Keywords for Children's Literature; she is a co-author of the Instructor's Guide for the Norton Introduction to Literature and was a judge for the inaugural Lion and the Unicorn Poetry Award (an annual award for the best book of children's poetry published in North America).

Professor Hager teaches Roots of Feminism, Victorian Literature and Culture, The English Novel from Victorians to Moderns, Victorian Children's Literature, 19th-Century American Children's Literature, Women in Literature, and Approaches to Literature. She also teaches a graduate course in narrative theory and television. She received the Dean's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2006.


Doctor of Philosophy
University of California, Irvine



Dickens and the Rise of Divorce: The Failed-Marriage Plot and the Novel Tradition. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010. Order this book from the publisher.

Kelly J. Mays and Kelly Hager. Instructor's Guide for the Norton Introduction to Literature. 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2001.


"Living with the Kings: Class, Taste, and Family Formation in Five Little Peppers and How They Grew." The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature. Ed. Lynne Vallone and Julia Mickenberg. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

"Body." Keywords for Children's Literature. Ed. Philip Nel and Lissa Paul. New York: NYU Press, forthcoming.

"Jasper Packlemerton, Victorian Freak." Victorian Literature and Culture 34 (2006): 209-232.

"Brontë for Kids." Children's Literature Association Quarterly 30.3 (Fall 2005): 314-332.

Richard Flynn, Kelly Hager, and Joseph Thomas, "It Could Be Verse." The Lion and the Unicorn 29 (2005): 427-441.

"Betsy and the Canon." The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Caroline Levander and Carol Singley. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003. 106-127.

"Estranging David Copperfield: Reading the Novel of Divorce." ELH 63 (1996): 989-1019.


"Constructing the Child." Review of Marah Gubar, Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature and Monica Flegel, Conceptualizing Cruelty to Children in Nineteenth-Century England. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies 6.1 (2010)

Mary Ann O'Farrell, Telling Complexions: The Blush and the Nineteenth-Century English Novel. Victorian Studies 41 (1998): 499-502.

Ginger S. Frost, Promises Broken: Courtship, Class, and Gender in Victorian England. Journal of the History of Sexuality 8 (1997): 141-144.

Victor Luftig, Seeing Together: Friendship Between the Sexes in English Writing, from Mill to Woolf. Studies in the Novel 28 (1996): 123-125.