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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Ashley “Aley” O’Mara

Graduate Student

PhD Candidate




Ashley “Aley” O’Mara entered the English PhD program in 2014 and now studies queer asexuality in the literature of Shakespeare’s time. Their dissertation argues that the English Reformation’s hostility toward celibacy set the stage for heterosexual marriage culture as we now know it. For that reason, sympathetic representations of celibacy could enact resistance to heteronormativity. Recovering those performances can help us better understand not only queer asexuality but also sexuality more broadly today.

Currently, O’Mara is the inaugural graduate research assistant in the Community-Engaged Humanities for the College of Arts and Sciences. They regularly serve in dramaturgical and directorial roles at Syracuse Shakespeare-in-the-Park, and they have written editorials and reviews for Howlround, America Magazine and Religion Dispatches. With the Pronouns, Gender, and Preferred Names Advisory Council, they lead workshops on pronouns competency for the Syracuse University community. They were a 2016–2017 HASTAC scholar and a curator and contributor with Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, specializing in Jesuit missionary networks. In the past they have taught a sophomore composition class on gender and the politics of world religions; ETS 113: British Literature, Beginnings to 1789; ETS 182: Race and Literary Texts; and ETS 192: Gender and Literary Texts. In 2018, they appeared as a contestant on “Jeopardy!”