Leland Jasperse

Lee Jasperse
Teaching Fellow
Cohort Year: 2017
Research Interests: feminist and queer theory; racial and sexual biopolitics; history of affect, embodiment, and psychology; Victorian culture; literature in transition


I received my BA in English and Psychology from UCLA in 2013. I received my M.A. in Psychology from NYU in 2017. Broadly, I am interested in the way literary form and style refract shifting intimate norms, wedging open the political and social possibilities of foreclosed modes of relationality. My writing has appeared or is forthcoming in LA Review of BooksBehavioral and Brain Sciences, and Signs.

My dissertation, "Insignificant others: fin-de-siècle celibate politics and fictional form," examines celibacy's fraught role in the volatile emergence of sexuality at the end of the 19th century. Major declines in marriage and birth rates in the UK and US raised the specter of mass celibacy, depopulation, and racial degeneracy. Excavating this history, I also trace the ways literary form responded to and complicated celibacy's ideological transformation, from the mid-century 'Glorified Spinster' to the castrated bachelors and unsexed odd women that populated eugenic thinking, sexological theory, feminist tracts, and late-Victorian fiction. The ungainly late-Victorian novel, the short story sequence, and the short story cycle, I argue, emerged in this turbulent period in part to give form to celibacy's problematic erotic indifference and lack of (sexual, narrative) drive. These forms provide refuge for styles of intimacy denigrated and disqualified within modern sexual regimes predicated on compulsory erotics.