Jessica Burstein works on modernism, fashion, the avant-garde, and prosthetics. Her area of expertise is British literature from the late 19th century through the contemporary moment. Graduate courses include fashion and modernism, the middlebrow, and introductions to modernism. Undergraduate courses range from large lecture introductions to the English major; to smaller seminars on boredom, wandering women, contemporary fiction, blood, privacy, and "Excellent Women"--the latter part of an ongoing interest in domestic fictions and under-read female British writers of the 1910s-1960s. Professor Burstein also teaches modern novel courses, some focusing on adultery, some on embodiment; and major texts courses based on Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf. She has published on Dorothy Parker, Wyndham Lewis, crowds, and Alexander McQueen. Her book Cold Modernism engages Wyndham Lewis, Mina Loy, Balthus, Hans Bellmer, Henry James, and Coco Chanel, and covers the period 1896-1948, and she is the author of the Cambridge Companion to Modernist Culture's "Visual Arts" chapter.
Most generally, she is interested in working with students invested in historically grounded research, and aesthetics. She has chaired dissertation committees on a variety of topics: the changing role of cartography in the Great War, the cultural role of impersonality, nonsense and word production, music, the mistake, risk at high altitude, and crime and detection. She is a member of the editorial committee of the scholarly journals Modernism/modernity and The Journal of Modern Literature. Since 2017 she has directed the English Department's London Study Abroad Program.
Her writing has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Raritan, and she is a 2018 Pushcart Prize Winner for her essay "All Politics."