Dr Rebecca N Mitchell

Photograph of Dr Rebecca N Mitchell

Department of English Literature
Reader in Victorian Literature and Culture
Head of Research, EDACS

Contact details

Address
Arts Building, Room 152
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

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.

Qualifications

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

Biography

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.

Teaching

I teach British literature of the long nineteenth century at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In 2018-2019 I will convene the third-year Oscar Wilde.

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.

Research

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 (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.

Other activities

  • Head of Research for EDACS
  • 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

Publications

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

Article

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

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

Mitchell, R 2018, 'The Century Guild Hobby Horse' Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 112, no. 1, pp. 75-104. https://doi.org/10.1086/696259

Mitchell, R 2018, 'Rediscovering Celia Anna Levetus' The Burlington Magazine, vol. 160, no. 1378, pp. 31-37.

Mitchell, R & Bristow, J 2017, 'Oscar Wilde’s ‘cultivated blindness’' The Review of English Studies. https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgx066

Mitchell, R & Bristow, J 2017, 'The Provenance of Oscar Wilde’s “Decay of Lying”' Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, vol. 111, no. 2, pp. 221–240.

Mitchell, R 2016, 'Francis Galton’s Hereditary Genius, 1869 & 1892' BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History.

Mitchell, R 2016, '15 August 1862: The rise and fall of the cage crinoline' BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History.

Mitchell, RN 2016, ''Cultivated Idleness': Carlyle, Wilde, and Victorian representations of creative labor' Word & Image, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 104-115. https://doi.org/10.1080/02666286.2015.1136871

Chapter

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

Mitchell, R & Jones, AM 2016, Before and After: Punch, Steampunk, and Victorian Graphic Narrativity. in Drawing on the Victorians: The Palimpsest of Victorian and Neo-Victorian Graphic Texts. Series in Victorian Studies, Ohio University Press.

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. https://doi.org/10.7560/JHS28205

Special issue

Mitchell, RN 2019, 'Margaret Oliphant and George Meredith' Yearbook of English Studies.

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, The Ruskin.

View all publications in research portal