Dr Christy Wensley

My research spans the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with a focus on the ways in which identity and literary form are shaped by questions of race, particularly Blackness, in the transatlantic imagination. I primarily work on Henry James and Jamesian afterlives in the work of Black writers and intellectuals.  

I am working on a monograph which argues that Blackness is a crucial ‘hidden subject’ in Henry James’s fiction, requiring sustained attention. To recontextualize his work, I draw on previous scholarship on James and race as well intersectional Black studies, critical race, queer, and feminist theories to highlight a historically contingent relationship between race and sexuality.

My new project examines how Black writer-theorists James Baldwin and Stuart Hall responded to Henry James and the ways in which this relationship informs their exploration of ‘strangeness’ and of being a stranger. This project maintains that Baldwin and Hall robustly interrogate literary criticism’s methods, particularly those developed from Jamesian proto-modernist critiques and theories, and that, by doing so, they transformed literary and cultural studies historically limited by a familiar whiteness and imbricated strangeness within it.


Originally from California, I have lived in New York, Los Angeles and London, with a short stay in Cambridge for my MPhil. I hold a BA from Columbia University in New York and PhD from University College London. Other interests include running and film, especially horror and the complexities and problematics of gender and race within the genre.