Michèle Mendelssohn

Michèle Mendelssohn teaches English and American literature from 1830 to the present day. Born in Montréal, Canada, she completed a joint degree in English Literature and Liberal Arts at Concordia University, going on to study at Heidelberg before gaining her Ph.D. at Cambridge. She went to Harvard University as a Fulbright Scholar in English in 2001 and taught at Edinburgh University, Boston University, Harvard, Cambridge, and Heidelberg before joining Oxford’s English Faculty in 2009.

Her research ranges from the late 19th century to the present day, and covers both sides of the Atlantic. In her first book, Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2007), she explored why being 'aesthetic' mattered so much to Victorians on both sides of the Atlantic, explaining how Aestheticism (the literary and artistic movement that flourished between the 1860s and early 1900s) responded to British and American anxieties about culture, nationality, sexuality and originality. She has written for The New York Times and The Guardian, and has been interviewed in The Scotsman and on CBC radio.

She co-convened the RAI's American Literature Research Seminar from 2012-14 and was a member of the RAI's Academic Committee from 20013-17 and Deputy Director at the RAI from 2015-17. Within the English Faculty, she was Victorian Period Convenor from 2011-2013 and has co-convened the M.St. in English Language and Literature (1830–1914) since 2014.

Selected publications

  • 'Reading Cosmopolitanism, Aestheticism and Decadence.' Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literature: Late Victorian into Modern. Eds. Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Oxford UP, 2016).
  • 'Rewriting the Genealogy of Minstrelsy for Modernity: "Cry and Sing, Walk and Rage, Scream and Dance"' African American Review (Spring 2015)
  • 'Oscar Wilde, Henry James and the Fate of Aestheticism.' Oscar Wilde in Context. Eds. Kerry Powell and Peter Raby (Cambridge UP, 2014)
  • 'Beautiful Souls Mixed up with Hooked Noses: Art, Degeneration and Anti-Semitism in Trilby and The Master.' Victorian Literature and Culture 40.1 (March 2012): 179-197.
  • 'Notes on Oscar Wilde's Transatlantic Gender Politics.' Journal of American Studies 46.1 (February 2012):1-15.
  • 'Aestheticism and Decadence.' Henry James in Context. Ed. David McWhirter (Cambridge UP, 2010): 93-104.
  • Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (Edinburgh UP, 2007)
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