She studied at UCLA before going on to do her M. Phil. and D. Phil. at Oxford University, specializing in sixteenth and seventeenth-century English literature. She is interested in the intersection between literature and medicine and teaches in the English Department and on the intercalated B.A. in Medical Humanities. Her book, Lovesickness and Gender in Early Modern English Literature (OUP, 2008), analyzes the idea of love as a real disease in medical texts and the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. It makes an important contribution to the history of romantic love, exploring the different ways that desire is believed to take root in the body, how gender roles are encoded and contested in courtship, and the psychic pains and pleasures of frustrated passion.
Lesel is currently working on a project on the revenge tragedy tradition from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon to Tarantino’s Kill Bill, focusing in particular on depictions of mothers as revenge figures. She is on the Board of Directors for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol.