Melanie Micir

Melanie Micir

​Associate Professor of English
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
research interests:
  • 20th Century and Later British Literature
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Life Writing
  • Modernisms

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1122
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

​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; archival theory and practice; and digital humanities. 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. Her first book, The Passion Projects: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2019, and her scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in JMLMLQModernism/modernity, the Virginia Woolf Miscellany, and several edited collections. She received an Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Graduate Student Senate in 2014-15. In 2015, she was awarded a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities, and in Fall 2016, she was in residence at the Center for the Humanities as a First Book Fellow. Most recently, Micir received a grant from the Center for the Humanities to convene “C21 STL: A Faculty Seminar on the Contemporary,” and she was awarded a Classroom Innovation Grant from the College of Arts & Sciences in support of her Spring 2018 course on “The Contemporary Novel." Before joining the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, she curated two exhibits on James Joyce for the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, PA: "Who Owns Ulysses?: Joyce and Copyright," and "Exile Among Expats: James Joyce in Paris.”


  • 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 Project: Modernist Women, Intimate Archives, Unfinished Lives

The Passion Project: 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.