Dr Sebastian Mitchell BA Ph.D PG.Cert.LTHE

Dr Sebastian Mitchell

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in English Literature

Contact details

132a Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I joined the department in 2007. My research interests include eighteenth and nineteenth-century British literature and art, and Utopian projection. I’m currently writing a book Utopia and its Discontents for Bloomsbury. I enjoy teaching a wide range of modules on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I’m on research leave until January 2015, and will be Deputy Head of Education for the School on my return.


I have a BA (English and European Literature) from the University of Essex, a PhD from the University of Southampton (Literature), and a postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching in higher education from the University of Birmingham.


Selected modules:

  • Writing Revolutions, 1680-1830 (MA)
  • Discourse of the Passions: eighteenth-century sentimental writing (level H)
  • Utopia and its Discontents (level H)
  • Literature and the Asylum (level I/H)
  • Introduction to Literature (level C)
  • Generic Transformations, 1580-1780 (level I)
  • From Romanticism to Modernism: English Literature 1800-1930 (level I/H)
  • Literature of Selfhood: explorations of identity in narrative fiction from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century (level C)
  • Literature in the Metropolis (urban fiction from London and New York) (level C)
  • The Scottish Enlightenment: An Introduction (day schools)
  • Plato to the Postmodern: Theories of Literature and Art (Level I)

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise MPhil and PhD students on a range of literary and cross-disciplinary subjects and would welcome applications in the following areas:

  • Eighteenth-century literature and culture with respect to questions of national and personal identity
  • Eighteenth-century aesthetic thought
  • Utopian writing


My main research area is the relationship of literature and art in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I have a recent monograph on this topic, Visions of Britain, 1730–1830: Anglo-Scottish Writing and Representation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). The study has been short-listed for the Saltire Society award for Research Book of the Year 2013, and nominated for the James Russell Lowell Prize, MLA, 2014. A long article on contemporary depictions of the Celtic bard Ossian appeared in a special edition of the journal Translation and Literature in September 2013. I’m currently writing a study of projections of ideal communities for Bloomsbury Academic, entitled Utopia and its Discontents, to be published in 2015.

Research groups

I am a member of the department's Restoration, Eighteenth Century, and Romanticism research group, and the College of Arts and Law impact action group.

Other activities

I undertake a range of executive and administrative responsibilities in the deparment. Externally, I provide assessments on the literary significance of eighteenth-century paintings for both commercial and public galleries.I am a member of BSECS (British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies), serving on the executive 1999-2003; and I am a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


I regularly deliver conference papers in the United Kingdom and abroad. I spoke at the commemorative conference for Bernard Mandeville at Coimbra University in Portugal in November 2013, at BSECS (Conference of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) in Oxford in January 2014, at ASECS (Conference of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) in Williamsburg, VA in March 2014, and at the World Congress of Scottish Literatures in Glasgow in July 2014.


  • 'Celtic Postmodernism: Ossian and Contemporary Art', Translation and Literature 22 (2013), 402–35
  • Visions of Britain, 1730–1830: Anglo-Scottish Writing and Representation(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), shortlisted Saltire Society Research Book of the Year, 2013, nominated James Russell Lowell Prize, MLA, 2014
  • ‘Macpherson, Ossian, and Homer’s Iliad’, in Ossian and National Epic, ed. by Gerald Bär and Howard Gaskill (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2012), pp. 55–73
  • ‘James Thomson’s Picture Collection and British History Painting’, Journal of the History of Collections, 23 (2011), 153–64 (with a catalogue of Thomson’s pictures as an appendix)
  • ‘Ossian and Ossianic Parallelism in James Barry's Works', Eighteenth-Century Ireland, 23 (2008), 94–120
  • ‘Dark Interpreter: Literary Uses of the Brocken Spectre from Coleridge to Pynchon', Dalhousie Review, 87 (2007), 167–87
  • ‘Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village: Past, Present, and Future', English55 (2006), 123–40
  • ‘Socratic Dialogue, the Humanities and the Art of the Question', Arts and Humanities in Higher Education: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice5 (2006), 181–98
  • ‘James Thomson's The Castle of Indolenceand the Allegory of Selfhood', The Cambridge Quarterly, 35 (2006), 327–44
  • ‘“But cast their eyes on these little wretched beings”: The Innocence and Experience of Poor Children in the Late Eighteenth Century', New Formations, 41 (2001), 11530
  • 'James Macpherson's Ossianand the Empire of Sentiment', British Journal for Eight¬eenth-Century Studies, 22 (1999), 155‒71
  • ‘Revolution in the Garden: English Literature in the Information Age', in Innovations in Teaching and Assessing English and Textual Studies(Cambridge: SEDA, 1999), 97‒120
  • ‘Literature and Ethics: The Uses of English in Higher Education' in Proceedings of the Con¬ference of the Higher Education Arts Network(Milton Keynes: The Open University, 1998), 26‒37
  • Dombey and Son: Families and Commerce' and ‘Dombey and Son: Industry and Empire' in The Nineteenth-Century Novel, ed. by Delia da Sousa Correa (London: Routledge, 2000), pp. 136‒58, and pp. 159‒85