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

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.


  • M.A., Ph.D. (UC Santa Barbara)
  • B.A. (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. In 2018-2019 I will convene the third-year Oscar Wilde.

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise MA and PhD students working on the literature and culture of the long nineteenth century, from the Romantics through the Aesthetes. I would especially welcome enquiries in the following areas: Victorian literature and material and print culture, literature and the visual arts, affect in literature, textual editing, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, and Wilde.

I am also affiliated with the Sexuality and Gender Studies programme and am happy to consider related projects engaging nineteenth-century texts.

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


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 University Press, 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. My latest book, 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



Volumes in progress

  • Unpublished, Incomplete, and Miscellaneous Works, Volumes X and XI of The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Coedited with Joseph Bristow and Yvonne Ivory. Under contract with Oxford University Press, Oxford English Texts edition. Expected autumn 2018.
  • George Meredith and Margaret Oliphant. Invited editor, Yearbook of English Studies 49 (forthcoming autumn 2019).

Articles and book chapters

  • “Herbert Horne’s Scholarly Air.” Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism (forthcoming autumn 2018; appx. 7400 words).
  • “Rediscovering Celia Anna Levetus.” Burlington Magazine 160, no. 1378 (January 2018): 31-37.
  • “Oscar Wilde’s ‘cultivated blindness’: Reassessing the Textual and Intellectual History of ‘The Decay of Lying’” and “The Fair Copy of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Decay of Lying’: A Critical Edition.” Co-authored with Joseph Bristow. Review of English Studies. 69 (2018): 94-156. Advance access September 2017: doi: 10.1093/res/hgx066.
  • The Century Guild Hobby Horse: Crafting Generic Networks in Fin de Siècle England.” Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America 112 (2018): 75-104.  
  • “The Provenance of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Decay of Lying.” Co-authored with Joseph Bristow. Papers of the Bibliographic Society of America 1, no. 2 (2017): 221-40.
  • “The Rise and Fall of the Cage Crinoline, 15 August 1862.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (August 2016).
  • “Before and After: Punch, Steampunk, and Victorian Graphic Narrativity.” In Drawing on the Victorians: The Palimpsest of Victorian and Neo-Victorian Graphic Texts, edited by Anna Maria Jones and Rebecca N. Mitchell, 237-268. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press (2016).
  • “Francis Galton’s Hereditary Genius, 1869 & 1892.”BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (August 2016).
  • “‘Cultivated Idleness’: Carlyle, Wilde, and Victorian Representations of Creative Labor.” Word and Image 32, no. 1(March 2016): 104-115. doi: 10.1080/02666286.2015.1136871
  • “The Victorian Fancy Dress Ball, 1870-1900.” Fashion Theory (published online May 2016), n.p. doi: 10.1080/1362704X.2016.1172817
  • “T. W. H. Crosland and the Royal Literary Fund: An Addition to the Biography.” Notes & Queries 63, no. 2 (June 2016): 284-86. doi: 10.1093/notesj/gjw043
  • “Oscar Wilde and the French Press, 1880-1891.” Victorian Periodicals Review 46, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 123-148. doi: 10.1353/vpr.2016.0007
  • “Robert Herrick, Victorian Poet: Christina Rossetti, George Meredith, and the Victorian Recovery of Hesperides.” Modern Philology 113, no. 1 (August 2015): 88-115. doi: 10.1086/681024
  • “Fair Copy Manuscript of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Decay of Lying: A Dialogue.’” Co-authored with Joseph Bristow. Notes & Queries 61, no. 4 (November 2014): 573-75. doi: 10.1093/notesj/gju129
  • “Picturing the ‘English Roadside’: George Meredith’s Poetry and Once a Week.” Victorian Periodicals Review 47, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 234-254. doi: 10.1353/vpr.2014.0023
  • “Empathy and the Unlikeable Character: On Flaubert’s Madame Bovaryand Zola’s Thérèse Raquin.” In Rethinking Empathy through Literature, edited by Sue J. Kim and Meghan Hammond, 184-207. London: Routledge, 2014.
  • “Death Becomes Her: On the Progressive Potential of Victorian Mourning.” Victorian Literature and Culture 41, no. 4 (Winter 2013): 595-620. doi:10.1017/S1060150313000132
  • “The Rosamond Plots: Alterity and the Unknown in Jane Eyre and Middlemarch.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 66, no. 3 (December 2011): 307-327. doi:10.1525/ncl.2011.66.3.307
  • “George Meredith’s Poetry and the Critical Imagination.” Literature Compass 8, no. 3 (March 2011): 142-150. doi:10.1111/j.1741-4113.2010.00774.x
  • “It was the Worst of Times: A Visit to Dickens World.” Invited review essay. Co-authored with Marty Gould. Victorian Literature and Culture 38, no. 1 (2010): 287-293. doi: 10.1017/S1060150309990465
  • Understanding the Literary Theme Park: Dickens World as Adaptation.” Co-authored with Marty Gould. Neo-Victorian Studies 3, no. 2 (Winter 2010): 145-171.
  • “Acute Chinamania: Pathologizing Aesthetic Dress.” Fashion Theory 14, no. 1 (March 2010): 45-64. doi: 10.2752/175174110X12544983515277
  • “‘Simply a Girl in a Village’: A Precedent for Hetty Merton.” The Wildean 36 (January 2010): 61-68.
  • “Learning to Read: Interpersonal Literacy in Adam Bede.” Papers on Language and Literature 44, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 145-167. Reprinted in Novels for Students, edited by Sara Constantakis and Anne Devereaux Jordan. Vol. 34. Detroit: Gale, 2010.
  • “‘Now a Major Motion Picture’: The Delicate Business of Selling Classic Literature through Contemporary Cinema.” In Judging a Book by its Cover: Fans, Publishers, Designers, and the Marketing of Fiction, edited by Nicole Matthews and Nickianne Moody, 107-116. London: Ashgate, 2007.

Reviews, short works and other media (from 2010)

View all publications in research portal