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Dr Jennifer Shepherd

Profile summary

Professional biography

Originally from Canada, I was awarded a Killam scholarship to study for an MA in English literature at Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia), before completing a SHHRC-funded PhD at the University of Alberta and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Hull. 

​I have worked for The Open University since 2005 as an Associate Lecturer, a Senior Faculty Manager and—since 2019—a Staff Tutor in the Department of English Literature and Creative Writing. 

Research interests

My research has mainly focused on late nineteenth and early twentieth-century transatlantic literary history, women’s writing, middlebrow studies and the history of the book

My doctoral dissertation explored the early history of middlebrow literary culture in Britain through the case study of Elizabeth von Arnim’s fiction.  My publications include articles on Edith Wharton and fashion, early literary representations of the motoring movement in Britain and developments in genre in turn-of-the-century fiction. 

My recent research interests include narratives of aging across the twentieth century, with a focus on how these representations intersect with class and gender interests.  Current  projects  examine discourses around rejuvenation and anti-aging therapies in women’s writing of the interwar period (including the work of Edith Wharton, Gertrude Atherton and Elinor Glyn on one side of the Atlantic,  and Elizabeth von Arnim and Virginia Woolf on the other) and the book covers of Elizabeth von Arnim’s first work, Elizabeth and Her German Garden (initially published in 1898).

Teaching interests

I taught English literature and communications courses at the University of Alberta (Canada) before being appointed as an Associate Lecturer for The Open University in 2005. I’ve taught on a range of OU modules, including A103, AA100 and.  Since 2016, I have been closely involved in tuition management on a number of modules, including A224 (Inside Music), A105 (Voices, Texts and Material Culture), AA100 (The Arts Past and Present), and A111 (Discovering the Arts and Humanities). I am also a member of the module team for A230 (Reading and Studying Literature).  

Impact and engagement

I served as co-editor of Modern Humanities Research Association Working Papers in the Humanities <> in 2005-2006 and more recently have acted as a peer-reviewer for Studies in Travel Writing.  I presently sit on the executive committee of the International Elizabeth von Arnim Society.

Having invested a significant amount of my academic career on direct teaching, I am keenly interested in the scholarship of learning and pedagogical engagement. Past scholarship projects have focused on supporting young learners in the tertiary sector and students with mental health challenges.  I am presently involved in the second phase of a scholarship project focused on measuring undergraduate attendance and engagement across arts disciplines at The Open University, with an eye towards shaping our tuition offer for future undergraduate students. 

I chair the FASS team in Ireland, which is responsible for facilitating local knowledge exchange and engagement opportunities, as well as maintaining partnerships with Ireland-based organisations which include the John Hewitt Society (, the Belfast Book Festival (, and Dublin/Belfast Culture Nights (