Michael F D'Alessandro
Assistant Professor of English

Michael D’Alessandro holds an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from Yale University and a Ph.D. in American Studies from Boston University. His principal research focuses on American literature and theatre history in the long nineteenth century. Whether studying well-known works of the literary canon or long-forgotten theatrical melodramas, D’Alessandro highlights the significance of social class within nineteenth-century reception. He also teaches twentieth- and twenty-first century American literature, film, and performance history, and his published work focuses on authors such as Frank Norris and William Faulkner. His articles have appeared in J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, The New England Quarterly, Mississippi Quarterly, The Eugene O’Neill Review, and Studies in American Naturalism.

Before arriving at Duke, D’Alessandro served as Lecturer and Assistant Director of Studies in Harvard’s History and Literature Program. At Harvard, Yale, and BU, he designed and taught several seminars, including “American Romantic Fiction and the Occult,” “Utopias and Dystopias in American Literature,” “The City in Modern American Drama,” and “Melodramatic Theatre and Early Silent Film.”

His book, Staged Readings: Contesting Class in Popular American Literature and Theatre, 1835-1875 was published in the fall of 2022 with the University of Michigan Press. Examining the overlaps between print and popular theatre, Staged Readings analyzes how working- and middle-class citizens shifted between roles as literary consumers and theatrical spectators in nineteenth-century America. The study reads works of popular fiction (George Lippard’s The Quaker City, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin) against best-selling theatrical melodramas (The Drunkard; Undine, or, the Spirit of the Waters). With special attention to archival documents—including playbills, diary entries, parlor theatre manuals, etchings of tableaux vivants—the project seeks to expand the history of class-driven consumer culture. 

Office Hours

Fall 2022 Semester:

Tuesdays 11:45 am-1:45 pm (303G Allen)

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