Jean Blackall

Professor Emerita


Jean Frantz Blackall holds a BA magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke and a PhD from Harvard. She did editorial work for the American National Red Cross in Washington, DC, and later for the Harvard Observatory and for William James, son of the philosopher. She came to Cornell in 1958, becoming the first woman tenured in English in 1971 and the first woman professor of English in 1978. She specializes in British and American 19th and early 20th century fiction, particularly in the works of Henry James and Edith Wharton, and in Women’s Studies. She is author of a book on James and of numerous articles on James, Wharton, Harold Frederic, the Victorian novelists. A founding member of the Henry James Society and of the Edith Wharton Society. Recipient of the Cook/Cook Award presented by the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women for service to Cornell Women (1992).

She recently published an article: "Valorizing the Commonplace: Harper Lee's Response to Jane Austen," in On Harper Lee, ed. Alice Petry. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2007. She has taught about six courses for the Christopher Wren Society, an independent adult education program given support by the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. and expects to give a course on the novellas of Eudora Welty.

Research Focus

  • 19th & early 20th century British and American fiction
  • with a particular interest in narrative technique & intertextuality and in the chosen topics, point of view, & narrative strategies of women writers
  • Henry James
  • Edith Wharton
  • Kate Chopin, Eudora Welty, Willa Cather, & the nouvelle as a form.