Professor / Author / Speaker
Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books
Jessica Hooten Wilson is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books at Pepperdine University (’23) and previously served as the Seaver College Scholar of Liberal Arts at Pepperdine University (’22-’23). She co-hosts a podcast called The Scandal of Reading: Pursuing Holy Wisdom with Christ & Pop Culture, where she discusses with fellow authors, professors, and theologians with Claude Atcho and Austin Carty. She is the author of Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Work in Progress (Brazos Press, January 23, 2024); Reading for the Love of God: How to Read as a Spiritual Practice (Brazos Press, 2023); Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints (Brazos Press, 2022) which received a Christianity Today 2023 Award of Merit (Culture & the Arts) and a Midwest Book Review 2023 Silver Book Award (Nonfiction – Religion/Philosophy); co-author with Dr. Jacob Stratman of Learning the Good Life: Wisdom from the Great Hearts and Minds that Came Before (Zondervan Academic, 2022); Giving the Devil his Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky (February 28, 2017), which received a 2018 Christianity Today Book of the Year Award in the Culture & the Arts; as well as two books on Walker Percy: The Search for Influence: Walker Percy and Fyodor Dostoevsky (Ohio State University Press, 2017) and Reading Walker Percy’s Novels (Louisiana State University Press, 2018); most recently she co-edited Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020).
She has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the Czech Republic, an NEH grant to study Dante in Florence in 2014, and the Biola Center for Christian Thought sabbatical fellowship. In 2018 she received the Emerging Public Intellectual Award given by a coalition of North American think tanks in collaboration with the Centre for Christian Scholarship at Redeemer University College, and in 2019 she received the Hiett Prize in Humanities from The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.
Ph.D in Religion and Literature (2006-2009)
University of Dallas
M.A. in English (2004-2006)
B.A. in Creative Writing (2000-2004)
Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books
Pepperdine University, 2023-Present
Visiting Scholar of Liberal Arts
Pepperdine University, 2022-Present
Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence, Humanities and Classical Education
University of Dallas, 2020-2022
Associate Professor, Humanities
John Brown University, 2013-2020
Graduate Instructor, Catholic Studies, Distance Education
University of St. Thomas, 2019
Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, 2014
Director, Study Abroad in London
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Spring 2013
Assistant Professor, English
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, 2009-2013
Instructor of Great Texts
Honors College, Baylor University, 2007-2009
Honors and Awards
Senior Fellow at Trinity Forum
With David French, Russel Moore, Anne Snyder, Vince Bacote, Mako Fujimura and others.
Midwest Book Review 2023 Silver Book Award (Nonfiction – Religion/Philosophy), The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints
Christianity Today “Culture and the Arts” Award of Merit 2022, The Scandal of Holiness
Scholar in Residence at Union University, March 2022
Other awardees have included Jeremy Begbie, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, Francis Su, James K.A. Smith, etc.
CCCU Initiative Grant Recipient 2020
Promoting Liberal Arts in a Time of Plague and Protest,” with Noah Toly, Kristen Du Mez, Francis Su, Jonathan Tran, Jeffrey Bilbro, Davey Henreckson, Angel Adams Parham, Stephanie Wong, Brad East, and Gregory Lee.
Hiett Prize in the Humanities Recipient 2019
The Hiett Prize in the Humanities is an annual award of $50,000 aimed at identifying candidates who are ascending in a career devoted to the humanities and whose work shows extraordinary promise to have a significant impact on contemporary culture.
Emerging Scholar in Theology and the Arts
“Culture and the Arts” Book of the Year Award 2018
From Christianity Today, for Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky, Cascade Books 2017.
Biola University Center for Christian Thought, Grant from Templeton Trust (Fall 2017)
National Endowment for the Humanities
Summer Institute on Dante in Florence, Italy (Summer 2014)
- Have led professional development seminars at approximately a dozen classical and/or Christian schools and colleges each year since 2020.
- Alcuin Fellow with Society of Classical Learning, alongside Christopher Perrin, Grant Horner, Angel Adams Parham, Phil Donnelly, and others.
- Editorial Board, Renascence journal, Marquette University
- Permanent Member of the Academic Board, Classical Learning Test (2020-)
- Advisory Board, Eighth Day Institute (2020-)
- Academic Board, Classical Learning Test (2020)
- Chair of the Board and Founder, Sager Classical Academy
- Committee for the Catholic Imagination Conference
- Judge for Conference on Christianity and Literature Book of the Year Award (2018)
- SCMLA Chair of Flannery O’Connor Regular Session (Tulsa 2017)
- SWCCL Conference Director (November 2014)
- JBU Chapel Presentation (September 2014)
- Convocation speaker, Pepperdine University, London program (Spring 2013)
- Judge of the Annual Fiction Contest, Christianity Today (2011-2013)
- President and Founder of ISI Graduate Reading Group, Baylor University (2007-2009)
- Review of Michael Moore’s translation of The Betrothed, Public Discourse (December 2022)
- Review of Mary Jo Bang’s translation of Dante’s Purgatorio, Law & Liberty (May 2022)
- “Poetry with the Power to Rescue Us” National Review (April 2020), Review of Brett Foster’s Extravagant Rescues
- Review of Natalie Carnes’s Motherhood: A Confession, Christianity Today (May 2020)
- Review of Nick Ripatrazone’s Longing for an Absent God, Law & Liberty (May 2020)
- Review of Benjamin Alexander’s Good Things Out of Nazareth, National Review, (October 2019)
- Review of David Lyle Jeffrey’s Scripture and the Poetic Imagination. The Gospel Coalition. (May 2019)
- Review of John Desmond’s Dostoevsky, Percy and the Age of Suicide. Law and Liberty. May 31, 2019.
- Review of Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith by Richard Harries. Christianity Today, Jan 2019. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/january-web-only/haunted-by-christ-writers-richard-harries.html
- Review of Congratulations, Who are you again? By Harrison Scott Key. The Christian Century, Jan 2019. https://www.christiancentury.org/review/books/harrison-scott-key-s-dreams
- Review of The Pursuit of Happiness and the American Regime by Elizabeth Amato. https://www.lawliberty.org/2018/07/27/the-truth-about-happiness/
- Review of The Aviator by Eugene Vodolazkin. Englewood Books, August 2018
- “Interview with Phil Klay.” Dappled Things. December 2017. https://dappledthings.org/12834/interview-with-phil-klay/
- “Truth Without Slant,” review of Phil Klay’s Redeployment. Dappled Things. Fall 2017.
- Michael Bruner’s Subversive Gospel in Flannery O’Connor. The Christian Century. August 2017.
- Makoto Fujimara’s Silence and Beauty. Books and Culture. Sept/Oct 2016.
- Marly Youman’s Maze of Blood. First Things. Summer 2016.
- M.K. Shaddix’s The Church Without the Church. The Flannery O’Connor Review. Summer 2016.
- Harper Lee’s Go, Set a Watchman. Dappled Things. Fall 2015.
- David Quint’s Inside Paradise Lost, Books and Culture. Jan/Feb 2015.
- Flannery O’Connor: Writing a Theology of Disabled Humanity by Timothy J. Basselin, Hard Sayings: The Rhetoric of Christian Orthodoxy in Late Modern Fiction by Thomas F. Haddox, Passing by the Dragon: The Biblical Tales of Flannery O’Connor by J. Ramsey Michaels. Co-authored with Jake Stratman. Christianity and Literature 63.2 (Spring 2014).
- Christina Bieber-Lake’s Prophets of the Posthuman. Christian Scholar’s Review 43.3 (Winter 2013): 289-291.
- A.N. Wilson’s Dante in Love. Books and Culture (print). Feb/Mar 2012.
- Glenn C. Arbery’s The Southern Critics. Anamnesis Journal. 2.1 2012: 104-108.
- Lamar Nisly’s Wingless Chickens, Bayou Catholics, and Pilgrim Wayfarers. Cheers! Newsletter (Flannery O’Connor Society). (Fall 2011).
- Chick Lit: The New Woman’s Fiction: JASNA News 23.1 (Spring 2007)
Articles in Peer-Reviwed Journals
- “The Future of Literary Study in Christian Higher Education,” Invited Submission, Christianity and Literature (Summer 2021)
- “Teaching Dante’s Canto XIX.” Pedagogy. Duke University. Fall 2017.
- “The Unrevealed in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Revelation.’” Southern Literary Journal. University of North Carolina. Co-authored with Jacky Dumas. 45.2 (Summer 2013).
- “Pleasure in a Toothache: Walker Percy’s Use of Notes from Underground.” American Notes and Queries: A Quarterly Journal of Notes and Review. (Summer 2011).
- “Demonic Authority of the Autonomous Self in Dostoevsky and O’Connor.” Flannery O’Connor Review 8 (2010): 117-129.
- “Individualism in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The Explicator 66.4 (Summer 2008).
- Regular contributor to Church Life Journal, Christianity Today, National Review, Law & Liberty, Public Discourse and other journals.
- “Books Open Windows into Holiness” Christianity Today (March 2022).
- “Universities Have Forgotten Their Purpose” James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal (Dec 2021)
- “The Liberating Powers of Liberal Arts” Public Discourse (Dec 2020)
- “From a Consumerist Death, Deliver Us O Lord” Church Life Journal (April 2020)
- “Bringing Forth Lazarus” The Christian Century (March 2020)
- “Encountering Dostoevsky” Law and Liberty (February 2020)
- “What to do if School Bores You,” Intercollegiate Review (October 2019)
- “Why We Need Poetic Imagination” in The Gospel Coalition, which was also translated into Chinese (June 2019)
Chapters in Books
- “Creation Orthodoxy,” Redeemed Imagination Project. Anselm Society. Ed. Brian Brown and Jane Scharl.
- “What Sigrid Undset’s Novels Teach Us About Motherhood,” Mothering Matters in Literature, ed. Elizabeth Bloch and Emily Heyne. Wollstonecraft Grant.
- “The Vice of Misreading in A Confederacy of Dunces.” Companion to A Confederacy of Dunces. Ed. Leslie Marsh. Rowan & Littlefield, 2020.
- Foreword, Michael O’Brien’s Family and the New Totalitarianism (Wise Blood Books, 2019).
- “How to Teach O’Connor as a Catholic Novelist.” Approaches to Teaching Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Robert Donahoo and Marshall Bruce Gentry. MLA Publication, 2019.
- “The Influence of Saints’ Lives on Flannery O’Connor’s Unpublished Novel.” Revelation and Convergence. Ed. Mark Bosco and Brent Little. Catholic University Press of America, 2017.
- “The Bible, Slavery, and Lincoln.” Curriculum for the Museum of the Bible. 2015.
- ““Remembering God in November 1916.” Жизнь и творчество Александра Солженицына: На пути к «Красному Колесу» (Life and Works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn: Towards The Red Wheel). Ed. L.I. Saraskina. Moscow: Russian Way, 2013.
- “From Underground to ‘Hurrah!’ in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer.” The Moviegoer at 50. LSU Press 2015.
- “After Modernity, After Theory: Reading Humbly.” Intersections in Christianity and Critical Theory. Ed. Cassandra Falke. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010: 23-32.
- Guest on “The Slow Work” by Sandra McCracken, hosted by Christianity Today (2023)
- Guest on Englewood Review of Books with Karen Swallow Prior and Jen Pollock Michele (2022)
- Bishop Barron Presents Jessica Hooten Wilson (July 2021)
- “Walker Percy and the Modern Self,” Beatrice Institute (Mar 2021)
- On “Anchored” (Sept 16, 2020) with CEO of CLT Jeremy Tate, Episode 3. Most-listened to episode of all Anchored podcasts, as of December 2022.
- Five times a guest on the Great Books Podcast with John Miller. (2019-2022)
- “Incarnational Realism” with Mark Bauerlein, First Things podcast (Feb 2020)
- Three times a guest on The Habit Podcast, Interviewed by Jonathan Rogers (2019-2022)
- Three times a guest on Sacred and Profane Love with Jennifer Frey (2019-2022)
- Interview by Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio Journal, Issue 143 (April 2019)
Invited keynote presenting at schools, churches, and universities on a monthly basis; booked a year in advance. Here’s a sample:
- Commencement Speaker: John Brown University (2021), Veritas Academy (2022), Covenant Classical School (2022)
- Invited Presentation at Public Theology session at Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting, Denver, CO (Nov 2022)
- Invited Presentation at “Scripture and Hermeneutics” at Society of Biblical Learning Annual Meeting, Denver, CO (Nov 2022)
- Drumwright Lecture, Baylor Honors College, Waco TX (Oct 2022)
- Wheaton College Invited Speaker, Provost’s series for Core, IL (Oct 2022)
- Oxbridge Invited Speaker, C.S. Lewis Institute, in Oxford, UK (August 2022)
- Invited Speaker, Society Classical Learning National Conference (June 2021 and 2022)
- Invited Speaker, Circe National Conference (July 2021 and July 2022)
- Invited Speaker, All Saints Anglican Church, Dallas, TX (April 2022)
- Invited Speaker, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s Annual Conference (Feb 2022)
- Invited Speaker, Well Read Moms 10th Anniversary Conference, MN (Jan 2022)
- Invited Presenter on panel with Christopher Beha, Joshua Hren, and James Matthew Wilson, University of Notre Dame (Nov 2021)
- Invited Speaker with Robert P. George, Cornel West, Spencer Klavan and others, Academic Board Summit for Higher Education, (Oct 2021)
- Faculty Development Leader, Regents Academy, Tulsa, OK, (Aug 2021)
- Keynote Speaker, National Conference for CiRCE Institute, Charleston, SC (July 2021)
- Guest Professor, Portsmouth Institute for Catholic Teachers, Rhode Island (July 2021)
- Commencement Speaker at John Brown University (May 2021)
- Society of Classical Learning Keynote (April, June 2021)
- Acton Lecture on Solzhenitsyn (April 2021)
- Keynote Speaker, Assoc. Core Texts Conference, (April 2021)
- Keynote Speaker on Christian Imagination, Lamppost Conference, Oklahoma Baptist University (March 2021)
- “On Being Human” Keynote Speaker for SLOCA in San Luis Obispo (February 2021)
- Keynote Speaker, The Covenant School, Dallas (January 2021)
- Breakpoint Course on Flannery O’Connor (November 2020)
- Keynote Speaker with Bradley Birzer, Mars Hill Forum, Kentucky (October 2020)
- Keynote Speaker with Zena Hitz, CiRCE Virtual Conference: Redeeming the Likeness (October 2020)
- Breaking Ground with Liberating Arts Webinar on Liberal Arts (October 2020)
- “Why do the Heathen Rage?: The Story of the Unfinished Novel” The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (Sept 2020)
- Webinar hosted by Collegium Institute on Flannery O’Connor (June 2020)
- Keynote Speaker, “Captain Marvel vs. Flannery,” Le Tourneau University, Longview, TX (February 2020)
- Keynote Speaker, Cowan Center, University of Dallas, TX (February 2020)
- Keynote Speaker, Christian Writers Festival, Grove City College, NJ (February 2020)
- Keynote Speaker, Eighth Day Symposium, Wichita, KS (January 2020)
- Keynote Speaker, Dallas Baptist University Honors Retreat, Dallas, TX (November 2019)
- Keynote Speaker, Inklings Festival, Wichita, KS (October 2019)
- Keynote Speaker, Circe Regional Conference, Dallas, TX (October 2019)
- Keynote Speaker, Catholic Imagination Conference, Loyola Chicago (September 2019)
- Emerging Scholar, Duke 10th Anniversary Theology and the Arts (September 2019)
- Keynote Speaker with JD Vance, David Brooks, Walter Isaacson, Rod Dreher and Tom Key at the Walker Percy Weekend (June 1 2019)
- Invited Speaker, “On Gilead,” Dordt College, (April 2019)
- Invited Speaker, “On ‘Parker’s Back’,” University of Notre Dame, (March 2019)
- Invited Speaker, Two lectures on Flannery O’Connor, First Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith, AR (Feb 2019)
- Invited Speaker, “Dostoevsky’s The Making of a Murderer: a Lecture on Crime and Punishment,” Loyola University-Maryland, (Nov 2018)
- Invited Speaker, “Are we prophets or possessed?: A Look at O’Connor’s and Percy’s Demons,” Chicago Leadership Forum, (Nov 2018)
- “How Fiction Defeats Lies in Solzhenitsyn’s In the First Circle,” Conference at the Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame (Nov 2018)
- Invited Speaker, “How to Read,” University of St. Thomas, Catholic Studies (Oct 2018)
- “The Saintly Virtues of Graham Greene’s Whiskey Priest” and a presentation of creative works, Southwest Conference on Christianity and Literature at OBU (Oct 2018)
- Keynote speaker, Walker Percy Festival in Saint Francisville, Louisiana (June 2018)
- Invited Speaker, “Captain America vs. Flannery O’Connor,” Redeemer University, Ontario, Canada (April 2018)
- Respondent to Miroslav Volf, The Table Conference, Biola University (April 2018)
- Invited Speaker, “Writing Under the Influence: Why Christian Writers Should Imitate,” Pepperdine University (December 2017)
- Invited Speaker, “Flannery O’Connor and Icons,” Union University (October 2017)
- Invited Speaker, “Flannery O’Connor and Suffering,” The Table Conference, Biola University (September 2017)
- Presenter at the British Library Symposium on Russia and America, London, England (July 13, 2017)
- Keynote speaker, Walker Percy Festival in Saint Francisville, Louisiana (June 2017)
- Editor as Artist panelist, Notre Dame University conference “Trying to Say God,” (June 2017)
- Workshop Leader: Classical Conversations on teaching the Socratic method, presented to over thirty high school, homeschool, and private school teachers (February 2017)
- Workshop Leader: On Leading Classroom Discussion for Teachers’ Summit on JBU Campus, presented to over fifty regional high school teachers (April 2017)
- Balzer Lecture, John Brown University. “Imitation, Incarnation, and Christian Literature.”
- https://sharestream.jbu.edu/ssdcms/i.do?u=f059ad721011470 (August 2016)
- Dostoevsky and Percy Session. Interview by Ralph Wood. Walker Percy Festival, St. Francisville, LA (June 2016)
- Incarnational Aesthetic: Protestant vs. Catholic Perspectives. Walker Percy Centennial Conference, Montreat College (April 2016)
- “How to Regain Our Chests.” C.S. Lewis & Inklings Conference. John Brown University (March 2016)
- Chapel Speaker, Pepperdine University: C.S. Lewis and The Abolition of Man (January 2016)
- Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition, Samford University, Alabama (October 2014): “The Incarnational Aesthetic of Augustine’s Confessions.”
- International Conference on Flannery O’Connor, Dublin, Ireland (July 2014): “Teaching O’Connor in the Czech Republic”
- American Week, American Studies Institute, Veszprem, Hungary (May 13, 2014): “Kitsch vs. Real South”
- Fulbright Series, American Center, US Embassy, Prague (February 17, 2014): “The Civil Rights Movement in Southern Literature.” Also presented at Gymnazium U Libenskeho Zamku, Prague (April 1, 2014)
- SWCCL Exploring the Virtues in Literature, Houston Baptist University (Sept 2013): “The Significance of Words in C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy” and Chair, undergraduate panel
- SWTX Pop Culture Conference, Albuquerque, NM (February 2013): “Engaging the World One Book at a Time: Pedagogical Methods in World Masterpieces Survey,” co-written with undergraduate student Marissa Betts
- SCMLA, Southern Literature panel, San Antonio, TX (November 2012): “Apocalyptic Utopias: Dostoevsky’s Devils in Percy’s Love in the Ruins
- International Academic Conference on the Life and Work of Solzhenitsyn: The Way to The Red Wheel, Moscow, Russia (December 2011): “Remembering God in November 1916”
- Flannery O’Connor and Her Influences, Chicago, IL (October 2011): “The Influence of Saints on the Heathen Manuscripts”
- The Moviegoer at Fifty Conference, New Orleans, LA (October 2011): “Searching for the Novel: How Percy Models Dostoevsky in His First Novel”
- TEMA panel presentation, Baylor, TX (October 2011): “Liminality in O’Connor’s Third Unpublished Novel”
- Christian Scholars’ Forum, Pepperdine, CA (June 2011): Convener and Respondent, Walker Percy and Science session
- International Congress of Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, MI (May 2011): “Of Werewolves and Noseless Ladies: Teaching Bisclavret in Translation”
- National Popular Culture Association Conference, San Antonio, TX (April 2011): “The Unsung Mentor of Southern Writers—Caroline Gordon.”
- The King James Bible and the World It Made, 1611-2011, Baylor, TX (April 2011): “‘Eat this scroll’: The King James Bible and Post-Apocalyptic Fiction.”
- American Literature Association Conference, Savannah, GA (October 2010): “The ‘Revolting Conversion’ in the Why do the Heathen Rage? Manuscripts”
- Christian Scholars’ Conference, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN (June 2010): “Teaching Literature as a Pilgrimage”
- College Education Association 2010: Voices, San Antonio, TX (March 2010): “Violent Comedians: Dostoevsky and Walker Percy”
- Secularization and Revival, Baylor University, TX (October 2009): “Solzhenitsyn and the Church without Christ”
- Poetics and Christianity Annual Conference, Rome, Italy (April 2009): “Suffering Children in Dostoevsky and O’Connor”
- SCMLA San Antonio, TX (October 2008): “The Demonic Authority of the Autonomous Self in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov”
- SECCL “Christian Humanism in a Postmodern Age,” Wingate, NC (April 2008): “The Drama of Christian Humanism: de Lubac and Flannery O’Connor”
- “Revelations: Discoveries in Sacred & Secular Literature & Art,” Baylor University, TX (April 2008): “‘Whose story will she choose to tell?’: Storytelling and Subjectivity in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby”
- SWCCL “Alarming Necessities”: Taste, Reading, and Theology, Dallas Baptist University, TX (October 2007): “The End of Criticism”
- C.S. Lewis and the Inklings Society, Hardin-Simmons, TX (March 2007): “In Defense of G.K. Chesterton’s Detective Stories”
- SWAAR Annual Meeting, Dallas, TX (March 2007): “How Anthropology Robbed Poetry: The Lingering Effects of Romantic Theology”
- The World and Christian Imagination, Baylor University, TX (November 2006): “How Austen and Tolstoy Educate the Moral Imagination”
- Flannery O’Connor and Terrorism, GVSU, MI (October 2006): “‘What is a man?’: Flannery O’Connor and Individualism”
- Art and Soul Conference, Baylor University, TX (April 2005): “Jane Austen, the. Moral Humorist”
- Chair, Walker Percy session at Christian Scholars’ Conference (June 2011)
- Chair, South Central Conference on Christianity and Literature, (2010-2011)
- Secretary, South Central Conference on Christianity and Literature, (2009-2010