Dr. Mathews' primary research and teaching focus on the literature and culture of medieval and early modern England, with concentrations in legal studies, material culture, and the history of the British monarchy. She has authored over 15 essays and articles on these topics and speaks frequently to the media about their significance to contemporary society.

Her secondary scholarly interests include career and life planning and collegiate sororities and fraternities. Her design and teaching of career readiness and life skills courses at Rollins have been featured in the Wall Street JournalNews Nation, and Fox News's America's Newsroom. She is also the author of The Benefit of Friends: Inside the Complicated World of Today's Sororities and Fraternities (UNC Press, 2022), which was a category bestseller on Amazon and was named a 2023 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice for excellence in scholarship, originality, and importance to the field. Her research on fraternity and sorority life appears in Slate and has been profiled in various media outlets including the Chronicle of Higher EducationBuzzfeed NewsTown & Country, and Inside Edition.

Having previously served as President of the College of Liberal Arts Faculty and English Department chair, Dr. Mathews currently directs the Pre-Law Program at Rollins.


BA, Brigham Young University
MA, University of Colorado
PhD, Duke University

Jana Mathews portrait

Courses Taught

News & Features

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The World’s Most Relatable Professor

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Cool Class: Zombies, Serial Killers, and Madmen

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Why You'll Want Dr. Mathews As Your Professor

Dr. Mathews says she "won the professional lottery" when she was invited to join the English department at Rollins College. As an associate professor who specializes in medieval and early modern British literature, her courses range from Dirty Old Men (think Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton), Hoarders (premodern material culture) and Globetrotters, which examines travel writing produced in the Age of Exploration and Discovery.

Teaching comes first at Rollins and Dr. Mathews is known for being fiercely committed to her students. She was the 2019 recipient of the Hugh F. McKean Award (given by the graduating senior class to one professor for excellence in teaching) and the 2018-2019 recipient of the prestigious Cornell Distinguished Teaching Award at Rollins. She was also the former recipient of the Arthur Vining Davis Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Outstanding Faculty Award, the Professing Excellence Award and the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Service and Scholarship.

When not in the classroom, you can find Dr. Mathews in the bowels of the library, researching and writing on a broad range of medieval and early modern topics. Her academic articles and essays appear or are forthcoming in the Journal for the Study of British Culture, Fragments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Ancient and Medieval Pasts, and in edited collections published by Cornell University Press, Bloomsbury Academic, Routledge, Bedford-St. Martin's and Brill. In addition to these scholarly projects, she also has had opportunity to connect the medieval past to the present by talking about the history of kingship and the British royal family in the local and national media.

Rollins' close proximity to Orlando's attractions has enabled Dr. Mathews to pursue a new avenue of scholarly study: namely, the rich, nuanced and sometimes weird ways in which medieval objects, people and events are displayed, reanimated and creatively reimagined in contemporary pop culture. Some of my pop culture medievalism courses include Dungeons & Dragons (Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Cinderella's castle, Medieval Times Dinner theater, etc.) and a class that examines the medieval source texts that inspired Game of Thrones. In 2013, I had the opportunity to partner with one of my students and alum Mark Miller to write the script for a 90-minute theatrical dinner show that was performed for over 100,000 people at Orlando's Arabian Nights Dinner Theatre. My work on medieval bible collections displayed in religious themes parks and interactive museums is featured in the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture and referenced in the Wall Street Journal.