Herter Hall 635


Dr. Keene’s research interests center on early modern English gender and religious history. Her current book project, ‘Spiritual Fornication’: Monasticism and Sexual Depravity in Reformation England, argues that ideas about sexual depravity – whoredom, harlotry, incontinence, adultery, bastardy, and sodomy, to name a few- were central to the process and progress of Protestant reform in sixteenth century England. Dr. Keene specifically explores the role of sexualized rhetoric in early English Reformation polemic and devotional literature, the role of accusations of sexual impropriety against Catholic monastics as part of Henry VIII’s justification to dissolve England’s religious houses by 1539, and the ways in which alleged acts of sexual deviance by Catholic clergy served as propaganda to legitimize the nascent Church of England.

Dr. Keene’s scholarly article, “‘Furnaces of all letcherousness’: Narratives of Sexual Depravity and the Dissolution of the English Monasteries” is forthcoming from the Sixteenth Century Journal. She co-authored a public-facing piece entitled “The Tudors are Trending” for the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History series. Dr. Keene has been quoted on historical topics in the New York Times and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Prior to her arrival at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Keene served as Assistant Professor of History at Georgian Court University. She previously taught courses in History, Expository Writing, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College.

Dr. Keene fostered her passion for career education and advising for humanities undergraduate and graduate students while completing her doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University. While there, she served as Career Center Ambassador for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Career Services at the Johns Hopkins Homewood Career Center (now the Life Design Lab) and as a Research Assistant for the Professional Development and Career Office at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Keene completed her PhD in History at Johns Hopkins University in 2020. Dr. Keene has master's degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She completed her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University.


  • Early modern Britain
  • Protestant and Catholic Reformations
  • History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Early Modern World
  • The Atlantic World


  • “‘Furnaces of all letcherousness’: Narratives of Sexual Depravity and the Dissolution of the English Monasteries.” The Sixteenth Century Journal (forthcoming)
  • Jessica L. Keene and Amanda E. Herbert, “The Tudors are Trending: An English Dynasty Continues to Dominate Popular Culture,” American Historical Association Perspectives on History, September 16, 2020:
  • “Jane Drummond Kerr,” “Elizabeth Cowdray,” “Joan Bromley Greville,” “Judith Taylor,” “Frances Edmonds,” and “Elizabeth Henege Finch.” In A Biographical Encyclopedia of Early Modern Englishwomen: Exemplary Lives and Memorable Acts, 1500-1650. Edited by Carole Levin, Anna Riehl Bertolet, and Jo Eldridge Carney. (New York: Routledge, 2017)



  • Renaissance and Reformation Europe
  • Senior Bridges (Practicum)
  • From Here to Career for Humanities and Fine Arts Majors
  • World History