Abell is a doctoral student in the Department of French and Italian pursuing joint Ph.D.s in French Studies and Comparative Media Analysis and Practice (CMAP). His dissertation compares the literary depiction of disembodiment in medieval otherworldly visions as well as the displaced body in virtual reality art exhibitions and games. His broader research interests focus on the representation of religious rituals in medieval poetry and prose, and the reception of Dante in the francophone world.
Jacob received his B.A. in University Scholars from the Honors College at Baylor University where he defended a thesis comparing theories of culture and education in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and Simone Weil. During the fall of 2012, Jacob pursued coursework in philosophy at École normale supérieure, L’Institut Catholique de Paris, and L’Université de Paris IV through the CUPA Study Abroad Program. Before joining the French and Italian department at Vanderbilt, Jacob obtained a Masters in Theological Studies (2015) from Vanderbilt Divinity School. As part of his work in CMAP, Jacob enjoys producing short film projects and stage productions. He is currently collaborating with New York-based playwright Nick Mecikalski on The Purgatory Project, a full-length play based on Abell’s dissertation.