Professor Rebecca N Mitchell

Photograph of Dr Rebecca N Mitchell

Department of English Literature
Professor in Victorian Literature and Culture
Head of Department of English Literature

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 152
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My scholarship focuses on Victorian literature and culture broadly defined, and I’m especially intrigued by the study and depiction of the creative process, the self/other relationship, and the textual/visual interface; these interests also drive my work in textual editing. I teach across the long nineteenth century.


  • MA, PhD (UC Santa Barbara)
  • BA (South Florida)


I received my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I studied nineteenth-century British and French literature and art history. I stayed on at UCSB as a 3-year post-doctoral lecturer before moving to the University of Texas-Pan American in 2006, where I ultimately served as Associate Professor of English and Vice Provost Fellow. In January 2015, I took up my current position at the University of Birmingham.


I teach British literature of the long nineteenth century at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This year, I will convene the third-year Pre-Raphaelite Circle module in spring 2020.

Postgraduate supervision

I am willing to supervise PhD projects related to Victorian literature and culture, especially print history, text/image interface, Oscar Wilde, George Meredith, George Eliot, empathy and affect studies, and fashion. I am also affiliated with the Sexuality and Gender Studies Programme and welcome related projects.

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My scholarship focuses on Victorian literature and culture broadly defined, and I’m especially intrigued by the study and depiction of the creative process, the self/other relationship, and the textual/visual interface; these interests also drive my work in textual editing. 

My varied research interests reflect my interdisciplinary background in literary studies and art history. My first monograph, Victorian Lessons in Empathy and Difference (Victorian Critical Interventions, Ohio State University Press, 2011), drew on Levinasian notions of alterity to argue - against the grain of many other studies on empathy in the Victorian novel - that works by Dickens, George Eliot, Hardy, and Whistler teach fellow feeling by exposing the limits of human intersubjectivity.

As an experienced textual editor, I view manuscripts both as artefacts of the creative process and as examples par excellence of the textual/visual interface. My co-edited anniversary edition of George Meredith’s Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside (Yale UP, 2012) shines new light on Meredith’s masterful sonnet series - itself an astonishing articulation of the difficulty of intersubjectivity - by returning it to its original context.  More recently, my editorial efforts have turned to Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary History, Romanticism, and the Art of Forgery (Yale UP, 2015), co-written with Joseph Bristow (UCLA), includes a critical edition of Wilde’s “Chatterton” notebook and his previously-unpublished notes on Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s 1881 Ballads and Sonnets. The study reveals that Wilde’s research on the young Chatterton informs his deepest engagements with Romanticism, plagiarism, and forgery. Bristow and I have also published on Wilde’s “The Decay of Lying” (having located a fair copy manuscript that had been missing from the scholarly record for over fifty years). Along with Yvonne Ivory (U of South Carolina), we will edit the final volumes of the OET Complete Works of Oscar Wilde for Oxford University Press, a project supported by an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship for 2016-2017.

In addition to numerous articles on nineteenth-century fiction and poetry, I have also published extensively on Victorian fashion, including articles on Aesthetic Dress and Victorian Fancy Dress culture (in Fashion Theory), the crinoline (in BRANCH), and mourning attire (in Victorian Literature and Culture), and a book chapter on the Victorian sartorial antecedents to steampunk (in Drawing on the Victorians). Fashioning the Victorians: A Critical Sourcebook, was published by Bloomsbury Academic in Spring 2018.

I am also co-editor of Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism.

Other activities

  • Director, 19th-Century Research Centre
  • Lead, EDACS Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team 
  • PI, “Pre-Raphaelites Online,” AHRC-funded Network for UK–US Collaborations in Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions (2019-2020)
  • Co-Editor, Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism
  • Advisory Board, COVE (Central Online Victorian Educator)
  • Editorial Board, Literary Texts and the Popular Marketplace series, Routledge


Highlight publications

Mitchell, R 2011, Victorian Lessons in Empathy and Difference. Victorian critical interventions, Ohio State University Press.

Mitchell, R & Bristow, J 2015, Oscar Wilde’s Chatterton: Literary history, romanticism, and the art of forgery. Yale University Press. <>

Mitchell, R & Jones, AM (eds) 2016, Drawing on the Victorians: The Palimpsest of Victorian and Neo-Victorian Graphic Texts. Ohio University Press.

Mitchell, R & Benford, C (eds) 2013, Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads. Yale University Press.

Mitchell, R 2018, Fashioning the Victorians: A Critical Sourcebook. 1st edn, Bloomsbury Academic.

Recent publications


Mitchell, RN 2021, 'An unpublished letter by Oscar Wilde', Notes and Queries, vol. 67, no. 4, pp. 559-560.

Mitchell, RN 2021, 'Victorian faddishness: the Dolly Varden from Dickens to Patience', Journal of Victorian Culture, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 153–171.

Mitchell, R 2019, 'George Meredith (and Margaret Oliphant) among the Pre-Raphaelites', Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 49, pp. 82-102.

Mitchell, RN 2019, 'Introduction: Margaret Oliphant and George Meredith', Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 49, pp. 1-10.

Mitchell, R 2018, 'Herbert Horne’s Scholarly Air', Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism, vol. 3, pp. 95-112.

Bristow, J & Mitchell, R 2018, 'Oscar Wilde’s ‘cultivated blindness’: reassessing the textual and intellectual history of ‘The Decay Of Lying’', The Review of English Studies, vol. 69, no. 288, pp. 94–156.

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Mitchell, RN 2023, Fin-de-Siècle Visuality (and Textuality) and the Digital Sphere. in D Friedman & K Mahoney (eds), Nineteenth-Century Literature in Transition: The 1890s. Nineteenth-Century Literature in Transition, Cambridge University Press.

Mitchell, RN 2023, Receptions: Textual History. in K Hext & A Murray (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Oscar Wilde. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mitchell, RN 2019, The Ethical Turn. in D Denisoff & T Schaffer (eds), Routledge Companion to Victorian Literature. Routledge, pp. 226-236.


Mitchell, R 2019, George Meredith's The Egoist. in M Pietrzak-Franger & M Middeke (eds), Handbook of the English Novel, 1830-1900. De Gruyter.

Book/Film/Article review

Mitchell, R 2019, ''Oscar Wilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and British Caricatures, 1750-1900' by Dominic Janes', Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 304-306.

Mitchell, RN 2019, 'Review of 'Oscar Wilde and Classical Antiquity' and 'Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentent Years'', Victorian Studies, vol. 61, no. 4, pp. 688-691.

Special issue

Mitchell, RN (ed.) 2019, 'Margaret Oliphant and George Meredith', Yearbook of English Studies, vol. 49, no. 2019, pp. i-xiv, 1-194. <>

Web publication/site

Mitchell, RN, A Wildean Daphnis and Chloe, 2019, Web publication/site, Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon. <>

Mitchell, RN, John Ruskin, the Wildes, and Imagination’s Reign, 2019, Web publication/site, Lancaster University. <>

View all publications in research portal