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.” 

Currently, he is working on a book project entitled Staged Readings: Sensationalism and Class in Popular American Literature and Theatre, 1835-1875. 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, Louisa May Alcott’s Behind a Mask; or A Woman’s Power) 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

Mondays 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

Some information on this profile has been compiled automatically from Duke databases and external sources. (Our About page explains how this works.) If you see a problem with the information, please write to Scholars@Duke and let us know. We will reply promptly.