Nathan K. Hensley works on nineteenth-century British literature (fiction, poetry, and political writing), critical theory, and the novel. His other interests include Anglophone modernism and the cultures of globalization.

His articles have appeared in Victorian Studies, Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and a collection, The Politics of Gender in Anthony Trollope’s Novels: New Readings for the Twenty-First Century. Review essays have appeared in the minnesota review and Criticism. His current book project is “Forms of Empire: The Poetics of Victorian Sovereignty.”

Professor Hensley holds degrees from Vassar College (B.A.), the University of Notre Dame (M.A.), and Duke (Ph.D), where he was also a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow. Before coming to Georgetown, he was assistant professor of English at Macalester College.  Please feel free to contact him at or @nathankhensley.

1 Response to Professor

  1. Danielle Spinelli says:

    Mr. Jennings’ emerging role within the novel and his quest for personal peace reinforces the recurring theme of personal motives beneath the surface of one’s actions. Furthermore, Mr. Jennings’ involvement in the case seems to mimic the quest for personal salvation previously explored in and Rosanna’s letter. Rosanna’s theft of Mr. Blake’s nightgown and the great lengths she goes to conceal its discovery plays into her own self interest and desire for personal salvation. As discussed in class, Rosanna hides the nightgown as a desperate attempt to become a part of Mr. Blake’s life and to gain the honor of being recognized as his savior: “If I had only been a little less fond of you, I think I should have destroyed it. But oh! How could I destroy the thing I had which proved that I had saved you from discovery?” (332). Rosanna’s “altruism” stems from a desire to establish a relationship with Mr. Blake, which would have essentially saved her life. While Rosanna’s aid to Mr. Blake is driven by selfish motives, her goals never come to fruition. These motives ultimately seem to affect the reader’s sympathy for and perception of Rosanna. Ironically, if Rosanna had not withheld this information, then the root of the mystery could have been discovered earlier.

    Mr. Jennings also parallels Rosanna; he also has personal interest in helping Mr. Blake. The experiment with the moonstone brings interest back into his life and makes him feel useful. In this manner, both Rosanna and Mr. Jennings hope to gain personal recognition or some validation of self worth by helping Mr. Blake. On page 399 Jennings states, “I, of all men in the world, am chosen to be the means of bringing these two young people together again? … Shall I live to see a happiness of others, which is of my making- a love renewed which is of my bringing back.” Near death, Mr. Jennings’ his role in clearing Mr. Franklin’s name is an opportunity for a last chance at personal salvation and redemption. In the end, however, both outsiders have relatively fleeting roles in the novel and are ultimately left alone. Rosanna committed suicide, and Mr. Jennings “awakened again to the realities of [his] friendless life” (430).

    While both characters have their own stakes in helping Mr. Franklin, I would argue that the reader is directed by the narrative to be more sympathetic to Mr. Jennings. If this is true, one may ask what the reasons are for generating more sympathy for Jennings? Could it also be that Jennings has endured hardships reminiscent of the same troubles that plague Mr. Franklin now?

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