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

Photograph of Dr Sebastian Mitchell

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in English Literature

Contact details

132a Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I’m a Senior Lecturer in English Literature in EDACS. I teach modules across a range of periods; and my main research interests are literature and painting in the Eighteenth Century and the Romantic Period, and utopian writing.


I have a BA (English and European Literature) from the University of Essex, a Ph.D. from the University of Southampton (Literature), and a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education from the University of Birmingham.


I joined the department in 2007. My main research areas are eighteenth and Romantic period literature and art, and utopian projection. I’m currently writing a book, Utopia and its Discontents, for Bloomsbury. I enjoy teaching and convening a wide range of modules on both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I’ve held various administrative posts in the University; I was recently Deputy Head of Education for EDACS.


Selected PG and UG modules:

  • Writing Revolutions, 1680–1830 (MA)
  • Plato to the Postmodern: Theories of Literature and Art (Level I)
  • Utopia and its Discontents (level H)
  • Epic Ambitions (level I)
  • From Romanticism to Modernism: English Literature 1800–1930 (level I/H)
  • Literature and the Asylum (level I/H)
  • Introduction to Literature (level C)
  • 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)

Postgraduate supervision

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

  • Eighteenth-century and Romantic period literature and culture
  • Aesthetics
  • Utopian writing


My main research areas are the relationship of literature and art in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and utopian writing. I have a recent monograph on the first of these topics, Visions of Britain, 1730–1830: Anglo-Scottish Writing and Representation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). The book was 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 modern depictions of the Celtic bard, Ossian, appeared in Translation and Literature in September 2013. I guest edited a special issue of The Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, entitled Ossian in the Twenty First Century (2016) and I have contributed a chapter to the International Companion to James Macpherson (2017).   

I’m currently writing a study of projections of literary depictions of ideal communities for Bloomsbury Press, entitled Utopia and its Discontents. 

Other activities

I regularly deliver conference papers and contribute to invited colloquia in the United Kingdom and abroad. I spoke at the commemorative conference for Bernard Mandeville at Coimbra University in Portugal in November 2013, at the World Congress of Scottish Literatures in July in Glasgow in 2014, at BSECS (Conference of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies) in Oxford, in January 2015; and at a symposium, ‘New Approaches to Ossian’, in Dublin, in September 2016.

I have been invited to deliver a series of seminars on utopian writing in Lisbon in April 2017, and to give an address at a workshop on British representations of Europe in the Romantic period at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt in June.

I peer review submissions for various scholarly publications: and from 2016 I have been external examiner for the Department of English at the University of Exeter. 


Selected publications 

  • ‘Landscape and the Sense of Place in the Poems of Ossian’, in The International Companion to James Macpherson, ed. by Dafydd Moore, (Edinburgh: Scottish Studies Society, 2017)
  • Guest edited Ossian in the Twenty-First Century, special issue of the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 39 2016 (and contributed the introduction)
  • ‘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', English 55 (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 Practice 5 (2006), 181–98
  • ‘James Thomson's The Castle of Indolence and 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 Ossian and the Empire of Sentiment', British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 22 (1999), 155‒71
  • 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