Wyn Kelley

Senior Lecturer - ON LEAVE

Wyn Kelley teaches classes in US and transatlantic literature with a focus on fluid intersections of race, gender, and class, old and new media, and literature in its social, historical, and political contexts. She is author of Melville’s City: Literary and Urban Form in Nineteenth-Century New York (1996) and of Herman Melville: An Introduction (2008); and co-author, with Henry Jenkins, of Reading in a Participatory Culture: Re-Mixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom (2013). Former Associate Editor of the Melville Society journal Leviathan, currently Associate Director of MEL (Melville Electronic Library), and co-editor of the Wiley-Blackwell A New Companion to Herman Melville (2022), she has published essays in a number of journals and collections and also works to develop digital pedagogy with MIT’s Digital Humanities Lab. She is a founding member of the Melville Society Cultural Project, which supports programming at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and maritime culture in the New England region.

Wyn Kelley on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick


Subjects taught the current academic year:

21L.003 Reading Fiction (Fall 2024)

21L.501 The American Novel (Fall 2024)

Subjects taught in recent years:

21L.021 Comedy (Spring 2022)

21L.310 Bestsellers: The Great Gatsby and Black Culture (Spring 2022)

21L.355 Literature in the Digital Age: Textual Mischief (Spring 2022)

Research Interests

My research has focused on the world and works of Herman Melville and has ranged widely from urban studies, to manuscript and source studies, to digital editing, mapping, and pedagogy. More recently, two research and teaching trips to São Paolo, Brazil have produced articles on Melville’s knowledge of Brazilian empire and of legends of Zumbi, hero of Palmares, (a seventeenth-century quilombo or community of formerly enslaved Africans). These have led to a new project on North American authors in dialogue with Brazil, including Frederick Douglass, Frances E. W. Harper, W. E. B. DuBois, Nella Larsen, Toni Morrison, and Gayl Jones.


2022 The New Companion to Herman Melville (ed. with Christopher Ohge). Wiley Blackwell.

“‘Portuguese Vengeance’: Melville’s Narrative of Empire and Resistance.” The Oxford  Guide to Herman Melville. Edited by Jennifer Greiman and Michael Jonik. Oxford  University Press. Forthcoming. 

2020 “Empire in Her Eyes”: Melville and America’s Brazilian Original.” Leviathan: A Journal  of Melville Studies. 22.1 (March 2020). 

2019 “Arctic Whiteness: William Bradford, Herman Melville, and the Invisible Spheres of  Fright.” In Race and Vision in the Nineteenth Century United States. Ed. Shirley  Samuels. Lexington Books. 37-52. 

2018 “Melville by Design.” Teaching with Digital Humanities: Tools and Methods for Nineteenth-Century American Literature. Ed. Jennifer Travis and Jessica DeSpain.  Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. 57-70. 

2018 “Melville: Ocean and City.” In Cambridge Companion to the American Renaissance. Ed.  Christopher Phillips. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 157-71. 

2017 “Melville’s Complicating Knots.” Exhibit Catalog essay, “Thou Shalt Knot: Clifford W.  Ashley.” Ed. Christina Connett. New Bedford: New Bedford Whaling Museum. 28-33. 

2017 “Melville and the Spoken Word.” With Mary K. Bercaw Edwards. In Herman Melville,  Moby-Dick. Ed. Hershel Parker. Third Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton. 686- 92. 

2017 “This Matter of Writing: Melville and the Manuscript Page.” In Critical Insights; Billy  Budd, Sailor. Ed. Brian Yothers. Salem: Salem Press. 128-46. 

2013 Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom. Ed.  Henry Jenkins and Wyn Kelley. With Katie Clinton, Jenna McWilliams, Ricardo Pitts Wiley, and Erin Reilly. New York: Teachers College Press. (240 pp).



NEH Summer Teaching Institute, Co-Director, “Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age.” With Melville Society Cultural Project and New Bedford Whaling Museum. New Bedford, Massachusetts. Postponed until 2021 because of COVID-19.

MIT J-WEL Higher Education Initiative grant for development of new IAP class, “Global Literature, São Paulo: Movement, Migration and Displacement in the Americas.” With Joaquin Terrones.

MIT Alumni Class Funds, for development of Idea Space, with Kurt Fendt and Suzanne Lane.

Literature Department funding, for research trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Worked with Joaquin Terrones to design IAP class, Literature of the Americas.


September 2023 “Gayl Jones’ Palmares and Travel No-Where.” Invited Keynote, Eleventh World Congress of the International American Studies Association, Katowice, Poland. Topic: “Journeying (the) Americas: The Paradoxes of Travel (and) Narratives.”

May 2020 Round Table in honor of Samuel Otter. ALA (American Literature Association). San Diego, CA. Postponed until July 2021 because of COVID-19.

March 2020 “Melville’s Foundling Fathers: Biography and the ‘Stript Abstract.’” Panel, “How Biographies Construct American Character.” NEMLA (New England Modern Language Association). Boston, MA.

October 2019 “‘Dead White’: Aesthetic and Racial Discourse in Melville’s Late Stories and Poems.” Symposium, “Melville’s Bicentennial.” Co-Chair (with John Burt, Brandeis) University. Conference of ALSCW (Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers). College of the Holy Cross. Worcester, MA.

June 2019 “‘Empire in Her Eyes”: Melville and America’s Brazilian Original.” Keynote Address at “Melville’s Origins.” Melville Bicentennial Conference of the International Melville Society. New York, NY.

March 2019 “Retouching Whiteness: Arctic Indigeneity and Racial Ambivalence in “The Berg.” Symposium, “Melville and Race.” University of Kansas. Lawrence, KS.

August 2018 “Reading Moby-Dick in a Digital World.” Herman Melville Birthday Lecture. Lansingburgh Historical Society. Troy, NY.

April 2018 “Classroom Collectives: Annotation, Close Reading, and Student-Designed Pedagogy.” Talk at annual meeting of Digital Research Center, or DREx, at Hofstra University. Hempstead, NY.

A Moby Dick Tour through the New Bedford Whaling Museum – Recordkeeping (at 05:33)

Wyn Kelley on using Annotation Studio in the classroom