­­Cassandra Nelson

3 University Circle | Charlottesville, VA 22903



2019–              University of Virginia, Associate Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture 

2018–2019      University of Virginia, Bradley Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture

2015–2018     United States Military Academy, Visiting Assistant Professor of English



2009–2014      Harvard University, Ph.D., English

2006–2007      Boston University, M.A., Editorial Studies

2001–2005      Boston University, B.A., English, summa cum laude



Writing and Composition; Christianity and Literature; Book History,  Media Studies, and Technology; American Literature; The Novel



2018   Bradley Fellowship, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

2016, 2018   Workshop Participant, “Writing Beyond the Academy,” Collegeville Institute

2015   Lilly Fellowship, Valparaiso University (declined)

2014   Summer Scholar, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, “Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor,” Georgia College and State University

2013   Dexter Summer Fellowship, Harvard University Department of English

2012   Meringoff Nonfiction Award, Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers

2011   William Harris Arnold and Gertrude Weld Arnold Essay Prize, Harvard University

2005   Student Speaker Prize, Boston University

2001   Trustee Scholarship, Boston University



Essays and Articles

2022     “Readiness is Not All.” (In response to the question, What is the military for?) The Point 27 (Spring 2022): 79–89.

2022     “A Theology of Fiction.” First Things (April 2022): 43–50.

2021    “Hard Liberty: The Hellish Internet’s False Promise.” Plough Quarterly, March 25, 2021.

2021    “Trump Isn’t Lear. But Maybe Edmund?” The Hedgehog Review Blog, January 21, 2021. 

2018    “Time is on Our Side: Reflections on Advent.” Commonweal, December 14, 2018: 38–39.

2018    “Bracing for Impact: Trauma, Triggers, and the Saving Power of Literature.” Commonweal, February 9, 2018: 11–17.

2017    “‘Why, oh Why, the Doily?’: Aristotle, Elizabeth Bishop, and the Work of Preservation.” Commonweal, October 26, 2017: 44-45.

2017    “How We Built This: David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King and the Collective Distraction from the Reality of Our Own Existence.” Malibu Magazine (October 2017): 62-65.

2016    “Seeing is Believing: What Flannery O’Connor Meant by Vision.” Commonweal, November 11, 2016: 14–17.

2016    “Second Sight: Reading Flannery O’Connor and Betty Wahl at Collegeville.” Bearings Online (2016).

2014    “‘A Thing of Beauty is a Joy For Ever’: Thoughts on the Crisis in the Humanities.” The Battersea Review (2014).

2014    “Manichaeism and the Movies: Flannery O’Connor and the Roman Catholic Response to Film and Television at Midcentury.” Literary Imagination 16.1 (February 2014): 76–94.

2013    “Through a Glass, Darkly: Notes on Screens.” The Battersea Review 1.3 (2013).

2012    “The Woman Who Was Mistaken for Flannery O’Connor.” Deep South Magazine, November 2, 2012.

2010    “Two Allusions in the Provisional Title of Samuel Beckett’s More Pricks than Kicks.” Notes and Queries 57.2 (2010): 239–240.

2008    “‘What with the Moving and the Children’: Betty Wahl in Ireland and America, 1951–1958.” The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society 20.2–21.1 (Spring and Fall 2008), 133–159.


Book Reviews

2021   When the TV Turns Off: The Silence, by Don DeLillo. First Things (August/September 2021): 49–53.

2021   A Good Editor is Hard to FindGood Things Out of Nazareth: The Uncollected Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Friends, edited by Benjamin B. Alexander. First Things (February 2021): 57–60.

2018    Despair Not, Presume Not: The Kingdom, by Emmanuel Carrère. First Things (December 2018): 47–49.

2017    Losing His WayThe Schooldays of Jesus, by J. M. Coetzee. Commonweal, July 7, 2017: 33–34.

2016    Quotidian Wonder: Zero K, by Don DeLillo. First Things 266 (October 2016): 59–62.

2016    Thrown into the World: Purity, by Jonathan Franzen. First Things 261 (March 2016): 60–61.

2015    Lights in the Firmament (Christmas Critics). Commonweal, December 4, 2015: 38–40.

2015    Honor Thy Child: Lila, by Marilynne Robinson. First Things 250 (February 2015): 53–55.

2015    Inefficiency Expert: Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life: The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942–1963, edited by Katherine A. Powers. Essays in Criticism 65.1 (January 2015): 115–123.

2014    Flawed Vessels: The Liar’s Wife: Four Novellas, by Mary Gordon. Commonweal, November 18, 2014: 24–26.

2014    Pears Not Pixels: Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon. First Things 240 (February 2014): 57–58.

2012    “Ignorance Regained”: The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume 2: 1941–1956, edited by George Craig, et al. Irish Literary Supplement (Fall 2012), 21–22.

2011    Beckett and Death, edited by Steven Barfield, Matthew Feldman, and Philip Tew. James Joyce Literary Supplement 25.1 (Spring 2011), 6–7.

2011    “A Journey From, and Not To”: The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume 1: 1929–1940, edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, et al. Essays in Criticism 61.1 (April 2011): 96–104.



2016    Advisor on the text. More Pricks than Kicks. By Samuel Beckett. New York: Grove Press.

2010    More Pricks than Kicks. By Samuel Beckett. Edited and with a preface and chronology (uniform to the series) by Cassandra Nelson. London: Faber and Faber, 2010.

2009    “The Other House.” By Betty Wahl. In The Southern Review 45.4 (Autumn 2009): 742–757.

2009    “Aprille.” By Betty Wahl. In The Antioch Review 67.3 (Summer 2009): 480–487.

2008    “The Lace Curtain,” “Tide Rips in the Tea Cups,” and “A Shorter History of the Irish People.” By Betty Wahl. In The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society 20.2–21.1 (Spring and Fall 2008), 103–132.


Encyclopedia Articles

2011    “Ambition, Guilt, and Fate in Macbeth.” In Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature. Edited by Jennifer McClinton-Temple. New York: Facts on File (2011), 3.942–945.

2011    “Race, Religion, and Isolation in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” In Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature. Edited by Jennifer McClinton-Temple. New York: Facts on File (2011), 3.1082–1085.

2008    “J. F. Powers.” The Literary Encyclopedia. 19 September 2008.

2008    “Betty Wahl.” The Literary Encyclopedia. 27 June 2008.



2021     “‘Hard Liberty’: Milton’s Hell and the Internet Age.” Guest lecture and discussion with students in Literature XI. The Brearley School (remotely), May 20, 2021.

2019     “Narratives of Politicization and the Civic Imagination.” Response to Eeva Luhtakallio and Veikko Eranti (Tempere University, Finland)’s “Politicization, Depolitcization, and Grammars of Commonality: Addressing Plurality in Politics.” Power, Agency, and Authority Seminar, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia, March 12–15, 2019. 

2015    “That Miracles May Yet Be Possible: Faith and Technology in the Novels of Thomas Pynchon.” Appalachian State University, February 2, 2015.

2014    “‘The Order that Appeared, Finally, in the Retelling of Events’: Betty Wahl and Suitable Accommodations.” Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, Boston University, February 12, 2014.

2010    “‘Corrigées si on peut dire’ [‘Corrected, if you can call it that’]: Textual Variants in Samuel Beckett’s More Pricks than Kicks.” Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, Boston University, September 29, 2010.



2019    “What Do We Mean by ‘Close Reading’?” Seminar, Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers 23rd Annual Conference, College of the Holy Cross, October 3–6, 2019.



2017    “Faith, Authority, and Computer Culture.” Southwest Popular/American Culture Association’s 38th Annual Conference, Albuquerque, February 18, 2017.

2016    “From Totality to Silent Reading to Simultaneity: Meaning and Identity in a Digital Age.” States of the Book Symposium, United States Military Academy, September 24, 2016.

2016    “O’Connor and Objects: Eyeglasses.” The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Conference, Boston University, March 10, 2016.

2015    “The Human Eye and the Camera Eye: Flannery O’Connor’s Ethics and Aesthetics of Seeing.” South Central Modern Language Association 72nd Annual Conference, Vanderbilt University, November 2, 2015.

2014    “‘Karmic Echoes’: Place and the Past in Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge.” American Comparative Literature Association 2014 Annual Meeting, New York University, March 20–23, 2014.

2013    “Meaning Fixed and Free: Pages, Screens, and the Role of the Reader.” Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers 19th Annual Conference, University of Georgia, April 5, 2013.

2012    “Manichaeism and the Movies in the Writings of Flannery O’Connor.” ALA 23rd Annual Conference on American Literature, Flannery O’Connor Society panel, San Francisco, Calif., May 26, 2012.

2011    “Boundless Curiosity, from A to Z: Hester Thrale Piozzi’s New Common Place Book.” 19th Annual British Women Writers Conference, Ohio State University, March 31, 2011.




United States Military Academy, Department of English and Philosophy

Introduction to Composition (four sections, Fall 2015; three sections, Fall 2016): Organized course-wide guest lecture by Christopher Ricks (2015) and performance of contemporary American monologues by Adam Driver’s nonprofit Arts in the Armed Forces (2016) for more than 1,300 first-year cadets.

Introduction to Literature (three sections, Spring 2016; four sections, Spring 2016)

The Novel, focusing on postwar American novels (one section, Spring 2016)

Drama, survey of antiquity through the present day (one section, Fall 2016)


Harvard University, Department of English

Postwar American and British Fiction, with James Wood (Spring 2013, Spring 2012)

Castaways and Renegades (American literature survey), with John Stauffer (Fall 2012)


Harvard University, Program in General Education

American Protest Literature, with John Stauffer and Timothy McCarthy (Fall 2011)




United States Military Academy

Instructor, Summer Leaders Experience, June 3–16, 2017

Designed and taught a 5-hour workshop on college-level literary analysis to 216 rising high school seniors enrolled in the West Point Summer Leaders Experience.

Officer in Charge, July 3–23, 2016

Led five cadets on a three-week service trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Oversaw travel arrangements, country and medical clearance requirements, and other pre-trip logistics. Volunteered at School #13, teaching English to 14- to 18-year-olds, and Kindergarten #166, helping institute a Montessori program for children ages 2 to 7.


Oxford University Press

Associate Editor, August 2014–June 2015

Worked with editors-in-chief and editorial boards to commission and publish articles in humanities fields; oversaw peer review, pre-production, and post-production processes; helped establish style guide for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia series.


Baylor University, Baylor University Press

Freelance proofreader, 2008–2014

Ensured that scholarly titles in the humanities and social sciences were free from typographical and other errors, and met Baylor style guidelines; organized notes and bibliographic citations.


Boston University, Office of the Provost

Assistant to the Provost, 2007–2009

Edited four issues of the award-winning annual online and print publication Research at Boston University. Drafted a mission statement for Boston University (approved by the President and Board of Trustees) and a 100-page self-study report as part of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges re-accreditation process. Prepared correspondence and remarks for the Provost and other senior administrators.


Boston University, School of Education

Assistant to the Dean/Associate Provost for Outreach and Special Initiatives, 2005–2007

Drafted and edited annual reports, speeches, memos, and appeal letters for the dean; provided administrative and logistical support for Step UP, a collaboration among five private universities, the City of Boston, and the Boston Public Schools.




Reading Partners

Reading Tutor, Sept. 2014–June 2015

Met weekly with two first-grade students at P.S. 188 to help develop their mastery of the alphabet and phonics, and foster a love of reading.


826 Boston

Writing Tutor, Sept.–Dec. 2013

Provided guidance on thesis development and essay revision to students at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science (grades 7–12). Worked with high school seniors to generate essay ideas, develop outlines, and revise drafts of Common Application essays.



Louis Menand, Harvard University

Christopher Ricks, Boston University

John Stauffer, Harvard University

James Wood, Harvard University

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