Michèle Mendelssohn was born and raised in Montréal, Canada. After completing a first degree in English Literature and Liberal Arts at Concordia University, she spent a year doing research in German and American literature at the University of Heidelberg as a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellow. Michèle completed her M.Phil. (First) and Ph.D. at Cambridge University (King’s College). She was also a Fulbright Scholar and Departmental Associate in the English Department at Harvard University. Prior to joining Oxford’s English Faculty in 2009, she taught at Edinburgh University, Boston University, Harvard, Cambridge, and Heidelberg. In 2009, she was Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Visiting Research Fellow at the Humanities Center of the University of Utah. In 2010 and 2011, she was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship and a short-term Research Fellowship in African American History and Culture at Emory University. She is on the board of English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 and Canadian Review of American Studies. She reviews for Modernism/ modernity, Henry James Review, Victorian Review, Review of English Studies, and others. In addition to her scholarly work, she has written for The New York Times and The Guardian, and been interviewed in The Scotsman, as well as on CBC radio. She is convenor of the Victorian period group, and co-convenor of the American Literature Research Seminar. She is co-organising the Alain Locke in the 21st Century Symposium on 12-13 October 2012.
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
I have four book projects in progress. The first, Going 'Wilde', tells the untold story of Oscar Wilde's 1882 lecture tour in the United States. Using new materials, it retrieves a lost episode in literary and cultural history. The second book examines the legacy of 19th century British decadence for early 20th century African American artists and writers, especially during the Harlem Renaissance. I am working on two other co-edited volumes: one on contemporary critical approaches to English literature, and another on contemporary British writing. Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (Edinburgh UP and Columbia UP, 2007)
- This book explains how Aestheticism (the literary and artistic movement that flourished on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1860s and early 1900s) responded to cultural anxieties about nationality, sexuality and originality. By thinking of Aestheticism as a transatlantic dialogue, and making Henry James and Oscar Wilde the critical figures in this conversation, I show that the lifelong rivalry between these two preeminent authors actually reflected a creative dynamic that dominated aesthetic culture as a whole. Using queer theory alongside historically-grounded close readings of images and texts, the book contends that their relationship was, in fact, symptomatic of larger artistic exchanges within the culture which can also be seen in the works of the Impressionist painter James McNeill Whistler and the Punch cartoonist George Du Maurier.
Selected articles and chapters "Beautiful Souls Mixed up with Hooked Noses: Art, Degeneration and Anti-Semitism in Trilby and The Master." Victorian Literature and Culture 40.1 (2012): 179-197. “Notes on Oscar Wilde's Transatlantic Gender Politics.” Journal of American Studies 46.1 (2012):1-15. “Oscar Wilde, Henry James and the Fate of Aestheticism.” Oscar Wilde in Context. Eds. Kerry Powell and Peter Raby (Cambridge UP, forthcoming in 2012) “Aestheticism and Decadence.” Henry James in Context. Ed. David McWhirter (Cambridge UP, 2010): 93-104. “The Tragic Muse.” Critical Companion to Henry James: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Eds. Eric Haralson and Kendall Johnson (Clearmark, 2009) “Henry James.” The 1890s Online. Eds. Dennis Denisoff and Loraine Janzen Kooistra. “‘I’m not a bit expensive’: Henry James and the Sexualization of the Victorian Girl.” Nineteenth-Century Childhood and the Rise of Consumer Culture. Ed. Dennis Denisoff (Ashgate, 2008):81-93. “Introduction: A Twenty Year Old.” Revaluing and Re-Evaluating Richard Ellmann's Oscar Wilde. Ed. Michèle Mendelssohn. The Oscholars (2007). “Oscar Wilde”, Men and Masculinities: A Social, Cultural and Historical Encyclopedia. Eds. Michael Kimmel and Amy Aronson (ABC-Clio, 2004) “Ticket to Rye: a Visit to Henry James's House”, The New Compass: a Critical Review (Dec 2004) “Homosociality and the Aesthetic in James’s Roderick Hudson”. Nineteenth-Century Literature (March 2003): 512-541. “Reconsidering Race, Language, and Identity in The Emperor Jones”. The Eugene O’Neill Review (Spring/ Fall 1999): 19-29.
Other Information: Selected Awards Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2010) Visiting Fellow, Tanner Center for the Humanities, University of Utah (2009-10) Visiting Professor, McGill University (2009, 2010) Visiting Fellow, Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library (2008) Fulbright Scholarship, Harvard University (2001-3) Doctoral Fellow, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2000-3) Doctoral Fellow, UK Overseas Research Student Award Scheme (1999-2002) Doctoral Fellow, Cambridge Commonwealth Trust (1999-2003) Graduate Studentship, King's College, Cambridge (1999-2003) Graduate Fellow, Fonds pour la formation de chercheurs et l'aide à la recherche du Québec (1999) Graduate Fellow, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (1998-9)