An anonymous contribution created this chair.
Murphy is an expert on English Renaissance literature and culture, gender studies and early modern women’s writing.
I am honored to hold the Mary McDermott Cook Chair for Undergraduate Education. Mary McDermott Cook’s dedication to philanthropy and education contributes to the life of the Dallas area in so many wonderful ways.
Dr. Jessica C. Murphy’s research focuses on the literature and culture of early modern England from 1500-1700. She has been widely published in the areas of English Renaissance literature and culture, gender studies and early modern women’s writing.
She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy from Hunter College, City University of New York, then earned a master’s and a PhD in English at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
She joined UT Dallas in 2009 and is currently an associate professor of literature in the School of Arts and Humanities. Murphy became dean of undergraduate education in 2017 and has been co-director of the University’s Quality Enhancement Plan as part of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges 2018 Reaffirmation Project.
Murphy’s commitment to excellence in the classroom has garnered her several teaching awards. She received the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2013, the highest honor given by The University of Texas System. At UT Dallas, she has been recognized with the Special Faculty Development Award in 2015-16 and the Distinguished Teacher in Diversity and Multicultural Education Award in 2011.
“New strategies are learned best in the classroom community, so I am deeply invested in creating an environment that validates each student’s choice to be in my classroom and encourages her to see herself as an important member of that learning community,” Murphy said. “My hope in every class I teach is that students will learn the skills necessary to deepen their understanding and appreciation of literature. I endeavor to give them both the confidence and the technology to do so.”
She has edited and co-authored numerous scholarly essays, book chapters and book reviews. Murphy has organized panels, presented papers and led roundtables and workshops for the Shakespeare Association of America, the Modern Language Association, the Renaissance Society of America, the South Central Modern Language Association and Attending to Early Modern Women. The South Central Modern Language Association awarded Murphy the 2015 Best Paper in Historical, Literary and/or Cultural Studies for “Language and the Female Body in English Broadside Ballads.”
Murphy’s 2015 book Virtuous Necessity focused on representations of chastity, silence and obedience in conduct manuals for women and literary texts. Her upcoming book, Sex Salves, will discuss how female illnesses in early modern English literature reflect cultural anxieties about women’s sexuality and compares these representations with current-day debates about women’s bodies.