Michèle Mendelssohn is Professor of English and American Literature and Tutorial Fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford. She co-convenes the MSt in Victorian Literature. Her research ranges from late 19th century to the present day, and ranges across both sides of the Atlantic Ocean (including American, African American, British and Canadian literatures). She has written, edited and introduced 7 books: Making Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture; Late Victorian into Modern, 1880-1920; Writing Under the Influence: Essays on Alan Hollinghurst; Why Friendship Matters; No Place Like Home (forthcoming in 2022); Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince and Other Tales (forthcoming in 2022). Her recent biography of Oscar Wilde was a semi-finalist for the PEN America Biography Prize, a finalist for the Biographers' Club Slightly Foxed First Biography Prize and a finalist for the LGBTQ Polari Prize. It was selected as a Book of the Year by the Sunday Times, Times Literary Supplement and The Advocate. The audiobook is available here.
Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The American Scholar and The Mail on Sunday as well as in peer-reviewed journals including African American Review, Victorian Literature and Culture, Nineteenth Century Literature, and the Journal of American Studies. Her next book project, The Ice Breaker, chronicles an early 20th century woman-led expedition to the Arctic. The book was inspired by a Knowledge Exchange Fellowship she held at the Pitt Rivers Museum in 2020-2021.
She has co-curated an exhibition, event series and interactive website called Making History: Christian Cole, Alain Locke and Oscar Wilde at Oxford. It showcases the shared history of Oxford’s trailblazing Black and Queer undergraduates through archives and personal testimony spanning the 19th c. to the present day. In this short video, she and University College Librarian Elizabeth Adams introduce the exhibition, discuss their inspiration for it and explain why its themes are still relevant. The project was shortlisted for the Vice-Chancellor's Diversity Award.
Period/ Subject: Late 19th & Early 20th Century British and American Literature Research and Teaching Interests:
- Late 19th and early 20th century British and American literature
- Transatlantic studies
- International Decadence
- Visual and material culture
- "Race" studies
- Gender and sexuality studies