Melanie Simoes Santos

Assistant Professor



Carleton Hall 319


In her research and teaching, Melanie Simoes Santos is interested in medieval and early modern literature, theories of embodiment and histories of white femininity.

Her current book project, Becoming Otherwise: Virginity’s Historical Futures in Early Modern English Literature, explores how, in the wake of the Dissolution of the nunneries (1536–1540), the hymen came to animate new intimate imaginaries - communities and kinships not reducible to the traditional structures of marriage and family. Blending archival research with with queer theory, feminist new materialism, and critical race theory, this project opens new ways of understanding the intersections of gender, sexuality, race and class in early modern culture.

She has published research from this project in The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Early Modern Women's Writing (2023): “Drama by Margaret Cavendish” examines the interoperations of gender and dramatic form in the author’s theatrical corpus, arguing that the formal fragmentation characteristic of Cavendish’s plays is finally inseparable from the gendered futures they hold open - that is, that women’s lives might elaborate themselves differently, unconstrained by existing social expectations.

She is a member of the Shakespeare Association of America and the Renaissance Society of America. In addition to presenting her work at these conferences, she has also delivered papers at the Modern Language Association convention.

As a current member of the Graduate Academic Unit, Dr. Simoes Santos welcomes proposals from graduate students working on early modern literature and is particularly interested in supervising projects that engage this literature’s negotiation of gender, sexuality and race.