Julie Pfeiffer

Julie Pfeiffer

John P. Wheeler Professor and Chair

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My classes focus on the interpretation of literature as a way to learn from the past, to appreciate beautiful sentences, and to engage in the rigorous construction of arguments. At Hollins I am able to incorporate my love of books and writing with my profound respect for women and their power. Hollins is a place where women discover and use their strengths, where the written word is valued, and where relationships are formed through open, thoughtful conversation. I’m grateful to be part of this community of talented students, faculty, and staff.

Areas of Expertise

  • Writing Pedagogy
  • Girls’ Books
  • Comparative Children’s and Young Adult Literature
  • Nineteenth-Century British Literature
  • Gender Studies
  • Disability Studies

Courses Taught

  • First-Year Seminar: “Women/Bodies/Voices”
  • First-Year Seminar on Middlemarch
  • Childbirth and Women’s Writing
  • Introduction to Children’s Literature
  • Seminar in Jane Austen
  • Romantic Poetry
  • Nineteenth-Century Women Writers
  • American Girls’ Fiction
  • Seminar in Milton
  • History and Criticism of Children’s Literature (graduate)
  • Gender and Girls’ Fiction (graduate)
  • Childbirth in America (Short Term)


  • Editor, Children’s Literature. Volumes 28-39, 45-50. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000-2011, 2017-2022.
  • Chair of the Faculty, Hollins University, 2013-2015
  • Fulbright Senior Scholar to Germany, taught at Johann-Wolfgang University, 2004-2005
  • My recent book examines what the Germans call the Backfisch novel – a novel for girls that focuses on the adolescent girl’s transformation from girlhood to womanhood. These nineteenth-century novels were wildly popular and played a key role in the development of the contemporary young adult novel. They help us to see the ways that becoming a woman is hard work rather than a natural process; they call into question many of our assumptions about mothering, gender, and the “normal” female body.


  • M.A., Ph.D., University of Connecticut
  • B.A., Carleton College


  • Forget ‘Little Women’. How did girls learn to be grown women?” Psyche.co, 18 Jan 2023.
  • Co-author with Darla Schumm. “The Self-Possessed Girl in Golden Age Girls’ Books.” Barnboken Vol. 25 (Fall 2022).
  • Transforming Girls: The Work of Nineteenth-Century Adolescence, University Press of Mississippi, 2021.
  • “The Backfisch and Stories of Female Adolescence,” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. Vol. 36, No.2, Fall 2017.
  • Co-author with Darla Schumm. “Gendering Disability, Disabling Gender: What Katy Did and Nineteenth-Century Female Bodies.” In Embodied Readings: Child Readers and Children in Literature. Ed. Roxanne Harde and Lydia Kokkola. Routledge, 2017.
  • “The Romance of Othermothering in Nineteenth-Century Backfisch Books.” In Mothers in Children’s and Young Adult Literature: from the Eighteenth Century to Postfeminism. Ed. Lisa Rowe Fraustino and Karen Coats. UP of Mississippi, 2016.
  • “John Milton’s Influence on the Inspired Poetry of Charlotte Brontë.” Brontë Studies, Vol. 28, March 2003.