Melanie Micir

​Associate Professor of English
Director of English Graduate Studies
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
research interests:
  • 20th Century and Later British Literature
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Life Writing
  • Modernisms
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    • Washington University
    • CB 1122
    • One Brookings Drive
    • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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    ​Melanie Micir's current work focuses on queer feminist lives at midcentury.

    Melanie Micir’s teaching and research interests include modern and contemporary British and Anglophone literature; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; queer theory; temporality and age studies; life writing; archival theory and practice; publishing history, particularly with respect to small and independent presses; and digital humanities. At WashU, she is an affiliate faculty member of the Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and she is on the steering committee of the Humanities Digital Workshop and the executive committee of the Center for the Humanities. She has also served as an elected member of two MLA executive committees: Sexuality Studies (2020-2025) and 20th- and 21st-century English and Anglophone (2019-2022, delegate representative). 

    Micir's first book, The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives (Princeton University Press, 2019), was shortlisted for the Modernist Studies Association’s First Book Prize. Her scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in ALHJMLMLQModernism/modernityModernism/modernity Print+, the Virginia Woolf Miscellany, and several edited collections. She is currently at work on several projects, including but not limited to a monograph about old women, a biography of Margaret Anderson, and, as editor, the Routledge Companion to Queer Theory and Modernism. Together with Aarthi Vadde, she received the 2019 Florence Howe Award for Feminist Scholarship for their essay, “Obliterature: Toward an Amateur Criticism.” With Anna Preus, she is now completing a digital edition of Hope Mirrlees’ Paris: A Poem, and Micir and Preus have co-published and co-presented work about this edition together in multiple venues. Micir is also the recipient of a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship and, at WashU, a First Book Fellowship and a Collaborative Research Seed Grant through the Center for the Humanities. She received an Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Senate in 2015 and a Classroom Innovation Grant in 2018. From 2017-2023, she convened “C21 STL: A Faculty Seminar on the Contemporary.” 


    • L14 166 Freshman Seminar: Friendship
    • L14 2152 Modern Texts and Contexts
    • L14 311 Topics in English & American Literature: The Environmental Crisis Novel
    • L14 314 British Fiction Since 1945
    • L14 3524 What If? On Counterfactual Fiction
    • L14 4584 Contemporary Fiction
    • L14 4601 The Shaping of Modern Lit: Queer Historical Fiction
    • L14 5241 Seminar: Feminist Modernist Studies
    The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives

    The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives

    It’s impossible, now, to think of modernism without thinking about gender, sexuality, and the diverse movers and shakers of the early twentieth century. But this was not always so. The Passion Projects examines biographical projects that modernist women writers undertook to resist the exclusion of their friends, colleagues, lovers, and companions from literary history. Many of these works were vibrant efforts of modernist countermemory and counterhistory that became casualties in a midcentury battle for literary legitimacy, but that now add a new dimension to our appreciation of such figures as Radclyffe Hall, Gertrude Stein, Hope Mirrlees, and Sylvia Beach, among many others.

    Melanie Micir explores an extensive body of material, including Sylvia Townsend Warner’s carefullly annotated letters to her partner Valentine Ackland, Djuna Barnes’s fragmented drafts about the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Margaret Anderson’s collection of modernist artifacts, and Virginia Woolf’s joke biography of her friend and lover Vita Sackville-West, the novel Orlando. Whether published in encoded desire or squirreled away in intimate archives, these “passion projects” recorded life then in order to summon an audience now, and stand as important predecessors of queer and feminist recovery projects that have shaped the contemporary understanding of the field.

    Arguing for the importance of biography, The Passion Projects shows how women turned to this genre in the early twentieth century to preserve their lives and communities for future generations to discover.