Jenny C. Mann is a Professor with a joint appointment with NYU Gallatin. Mann is a scholar of early modern English literature and culture. Her research focuses on the relationship between rhetoric, natural philosophy, the history of sexuality, and literary expression in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her teaching takes an interdisciplinary, problem-based approached to a broad range of topics in early modern studies, with an emphasis on utopia and literature/science studies. In addition, she is particularly interested in early modern engagements with classical literature and culture. Such engagements often expose the violent contradictions of the early modern world, a tumultuous era of colonial expansion, philosophical skepticism, religious conflict, aesthetic experimentation, and scientific innovation.
Mann’s first book, Outlaw Rhetoric: Figuring Vernacular Eloquence in Shakespeare’s England (Cornell University Press 2012), argues that the translation of classical rhetoric into the everyday vernacular becomes a means of literary invention in the sixteenth century, turning classical figures of transport and exchange into native stories of fairies and Robin Hood. Her second book, The Trials of Orpheus: Poetry, Science, and the Early Modern Sublime (Princeton University Press 2021), investigates how sixteenth-century writers draw on the Orpheus myth so as to conceptualize the occult power of eloquence, which they understood to be a sublime force that penetrates the body and moves populations into action. She is currently at work on a research project titled "The Forms of Utopia: Paradox, Labyrinth, and Infinity since the Renaissance," which explores the peculiar power of utopia’s abstract form, which enables the invention of countless artificial worlds.
Prior to coming to NYU, Mann taught at Cornell University, where she served as Director of Graduate Studies in English. In addition to her academic and scholarly work, Mann pursues public humanities engagement in collaboration with the Public Shakespeare Initiative at the Public Theater in New York. Mann has received grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Folger Shakespeare Library, and she has published articles in Studies in English Literature, Modern Philology, English Literary Renaissance, Philological Quarterly, Renaissance Drama, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, as well as various edited collections. She co-edited, with Debapriya Sarkar, a special issue of Philological Quarterly on “Imagining Early Modern Scientific Forms,” which explores how science studies intersects with “new formalisms” in early modern literary studies.