Laura Thiemann Scales is Associate Professor of English. She teaches courses on American literature and culture; narrative theory; race, gender, and reform movements; and space and place. She has published articles on U.S. religious culture and narrative voice. Her current book project examines the influence of prophets and spirit-mediums on ideas of narrative selfhood in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


  • B.A., Yale University
  • M.A. and Ph.D., Harvard University


  • Stonehill SGA Appreciation Award
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship
  • Helen Choate Bell Dissertation Prize, Harvard University
  • Bowdoin Prize, Harvard University

Courses Taught

  • Telling Tales: Theories of Narrative
  • Race, Gender and Reform in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
  • Space, Place & Landscape
  • American Gothic
  • The Great American Novel
  • Living American Literature

Selected Publications & Presentations

  • “‘The writing of the fruit of thy loins’: Reading, writing, and prophecy in the Book of Mormon,” in The Book of Mormon: Americanist Approaches, ed. Jared Hickman and Elizabeth Fenton (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • “A New ‘Mormon Moment’? The Book of Mormon in Literary Studies,” Literature Compass 13.11 (November 2016).
  • “Narrative Revolutions in Nat Turner and Joseph Smith,” American Literary History 24.2 (May 2012).
  • “Playing with Death: Truth and Reliability in Spiritualist Performance.” Narrative: An International Conference, Pamplona, Spain, May 30-June 1 2019.
  • “Hospitable Bodies: Spiritualism and Domestic Intrusion.” Society for the Study of American Women Writers, Denver, CO, November 7-11, 2018.
  • “Du Bois, Nineteenth-Century Prophetic Culture, and the Anti-Liberal Literary Tradition.” C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 22-25, 2018.
  • Panel organizer, “Audience Refusals in Religious Narrative.” Paper presented: “Improvisation, Heckling, and Spiritualist Performance.” Narrative: An International Conference, Louisville, KY, March 23-26, 2017.