Nathan E. Fleeson, Ph.D.

Educating and Mentoring Students through Literary Studies

Photo by Dallas Anne Duncan,


Nathan E. Fleeson (he/him) is a 12th Grade English Language Arts teacher with Peachtree Ridge High School in Gwinnett County Public Schools where he teaches Multicultural Literature and Composition. In May 2023, Nathan finished a Ph.D. in Arts, Literature, and Religion at the University of Georgia, with a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. His research explores how people use art and literature to imaginatively explore personal identity and their connections to others.

While a graduate student instructor at UGA, Nathan became passionate about supporting students to reflect on how they structured their education and its importance for becoming global-citizens and life-long learners. He is excited to continue exploring similar opportunities for student reflection using the unique perspectives of Multicultural Literature as he returns to his old school district.

Recent Updates

New Article Published: "Creating Imaginative Pauses with Sin: The Queer Theological Aesthetics of Oscar Wilde and Paul Cadmus"

I recently had an published in The Journal of Religion and the Arts exploring how Oscar Wilde and Paul Cadmus both utilize their art to renegotiate how we imagine our relationship to sin within Catholicism. This article draws attention to resonances between their approaches by presenting a Wildean queer theological aesthetic as a framework to interpret Cadmus’s art. A Wildean framework utilizes the excesses of both Catholicism and queerness as a foil for each other to create pauses for the imagination in a culture and religious tradition that risks falling into mechanization. In the space of that excess, we are allowed to escape the trap of existence to live as Individuals, claiming sin as an excess that offers an imaginative pause out of mere existence. Applied to Cadmus, a Wildean framework focuses on how Cadmus’s works also engages queer and Catholic excess to renegotiate Catholic guilt around the body and instead see the body and its sin as a site to know the Self. 

Paul Cadmus, The Fleet's In! Tempera on Canvas, 1934. Naval History and Heritage Command, 34-005-A.

Article Under Review: "Oscar Wilde's Theology from Reading Gaol: Where There is Sorrow There is Holy Ground"

Continuing out of my interest in Oscar Wilde from my previous publication ("Creating Imaginative Pauses with Sin: The Queer Theological Aesthetics of Oscar Wilde and Paul Cadmus"), I turned my attention to Wilde's most famous poem, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," as another example of his theology. While I shifted away from a queer interpretive lens, I maintained a focus on Wilde's distinction between existing (rooted in mechanization) and living (rooted in the imagination). In this article, I draw attention to multiple intersecting Derridean traces in Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” to interpret how his theology emerges in the poem. On the one hand, Wilde joins a tradition of prison literature, which carries an awareness of the present non-presence of freedom within the jail cell, with the walls and guards serving as a constant reminder. On the other hand, the ruins of the Royal Abbey of Reading on the site of Reading Gaol emphasize a present non-presence of a monastic theology that treats incarceration as a form of penance and encourages an active religious imagination. Utilizing both traces together, I interpret “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” as an example of Wilde’s theology of imagination and sorrow, in which the religious imagination becomes a means to recognize how we are interconnected, particularly in our sorrow. Moreover, the Ballad demonstrates how the prisoners become an ecclesial community through sorrow and the imagination—seeing Woolridge as a Christ-like figure—in contrast to the mechanization of the prison authorities who distance themselves from the realities of capital punishment. The article has been submitted for review with Religion & Literature Journal.