Professor Kate Mitchell

PhD (literary studies) from University of Melbourne; BA (hons) from ANU
Director, Research School of Humanities and the Arts; Professor, Literary Studies
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Literary Studies 2005
  • British And Irish Literature 200503
  • Literary Theory 200525
  • Australian Literature (Excl. Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Literature) 200502

Research interests

Neo-Victorian fiction

Historical fiction, especially contemporary British and Australian

Victorian fiction

19th and 20th century literary and cultural history

Cultural Memory

Theory and philosophy of History



Kate Mitchell is Director of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts and Professor of Literary Studies. Her research is focused on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary and cultural history, with a particular interest in neo-Victorian fiction and film and contemporary historical recollection in literature and film more generally, including fiction and creative non-fiction. She likes particularly to think about the role of fictional narratives in creating public memory of contested, marginalised or occluded pasts; the ways that 'memory' travels through time and space, especially via novels, film and television; and the ethics - and creative possibilities - involved in fictionalising past lives and events. How can fiction be used to speak the unspeakable, in the past and today?

 Her current major project examines the use of art and the figure of the artist in contemporary fiction about the Victorian period, including the representation of the Pre-Raphaelites, Impressionists and other artists and their work. 

Her research and teaching interests also include Jane Austen (her novels and her afterlives in contemporary fiction, film and media); period drama, as well as adaptation and remediation more generally; and Victorian gothic fiction. 

She is author of "History and Cultural Memory in Neo-Victorian Fiction: Victorian Afterimages" and co-editor of "Reading Historical Fiction: the revenant and remembered past." Her articles on historical fiction have appeared in journals including "Neo-Victorian Studies", "Australian Literary Studies", "Victoriographies", "College Literature" and in a number of edited collections.

Kate is passionate about the value of humanities and the arts in the university and beyond.

Researcher's projects

Nineteenth-Century Australia Then and Now: Remembering Australia’s Past in Neo-Victorian Fiction

The historical novel is a highly popular and critically-significant genre among contemporary Australian novelists and readers alike, with examples dominating bestseller and literary award lists. Among these historical novels, the nineteenth century recurs with an insistence that identifies, or indeed, constructs, the period as central to the Australian historical imaginary.

This project explores how we remember the past in Australia in today. It provides new ways of understanding the operation of literature as a form of cultural memory, opening up the critical debate beyond whether novels constitute ‘good’ or ‘bad’ history to consider how they function in relation to a range of discourses about the past and how it is remembered today.

Current student projects

Primary Supervisor:

Ashely Orr, 'Breaking the Mould: Neo-Victorian Fiction, Female Corporeality, and the Politics of Resistance.'

Kate Oakes. 'Altruism and Agriculture: The Ethics of the Farmyard in Thomas Hardy's Novels.'

Supervisory Panel Member:

Chung-Yen Yu, '"The House of Waiting": An Epistolary Novel and Dissertation.'

Kathryn Hind, 'Ugly Feelings and Passive States in the Works of Gabriel Tallent and Anne Enright.'

Luisa Moore, Textual Critique Through the Artist's Eye: John Austen's Illustrated Hamlet.'

Meredith Trinko, 'A Well-Lived Death: Taxidermy in Victorian Material Culture 1850-1900.'

Louisa Kirk, ‘Through stories and secrets’: Female friendship as displaced intimacy.'

Past student projects


My Role 





Louisa Kirk

Primary Supervisor 

‘Through stories and secrets’: Female friendship as displaced intimacy

Ashley Orr

Chair & Primary supervisor

Breaking the Mould: Neo-Victorian Fiction, Female Corporeality, and the Politics of Resistance.

Kathryne Ford

Chair & Primary supervisor

‘I lost courage and burned the rest’: Biofiction, Legacy, and the Hero-Protagonist Split in Charles Dickens’s Life-Writing Novels.

Jessica Hewenn

Chair & Primary supervisor

Unsettling: Settler-Colonial Environments in Neo-Victorian Fiction

Matthew Thompson

Chair & Primary supervisor

The figure of Jack the Ripper in Victorian and neo-Victorian Fiction.

Kate Oakes

Primary Supervisor, exegesis

Altruism and Agriculture: The Ethics of the Farmyard in Thomas Hardy's Novels.

Chung-Yen Yu


'The House of Waiting': An Epistolary Novel and Dissertation

Kathryn Hind


Ugly feelings and passive states in the work/s of Gabriel Tallent and Anne Enright.

Tania Evans


Cripples and Bastards and Broken Things: Masculinity, Violence, and Abjection in A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones.

Luisa Moore


Textual Critique through the Artist's Eye: John Austen's Illustrated Hamlet

Suzanne Faigan


An Annotated Bibliography of Maria Yakovlevna Frumkina (Esther)..

Stephanie Kizimchuk


Mizrahi Memoirs: History, Memory, and Identity in Displacement

Rebecca Clode


Critical Celebrations: Metatheatre in Australian Drama of the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Centuries

Lucy Neave

Supervisor, exegesis.

Who We Were: A Novel and Dissertation by Publication. Dissertation title: ‘Writing Process: Writers’ Practices, Mystique and Pedagogy.’

Hamish Dalley


Contemporary historical fiction in Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand







































Fourth-Year Honours Projects:

Music in Jane Austen’s Emma. 2019.

Representations of the figure of the psychopath in gothic fiction. 2019.

Reimagining Agnes: Burial Rites as a Restorative Literary Act. 2018.

Subjectivity and Self in the Victorian Novel: Focusing on the Boundary. 2016.

Romancing the Environment in Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. 2015.

Transitioning Gender in Vampire Fiction from the nineteenth century to the present. 2015.

Illness and the Gothic in Wuthering Heights. 2015.

Adventuring with Austen. 2013.

Neo-Victorian Graphic Novels: Alan Moore’s The Lost Girls. 2012.

Weather in the (Neo)Victorian Novel. 2012.

The Preface in the Victorian Novel (M.A.). 2012.

Victorian Masculinities: The Experienced Hero. 2012.

The Outsider and the Orphan: Educators and Motherless Heroines in the Victorian home. 2011.

Preservation and the Historical Imagination in The Remains of the Day and Atonement. 2010.




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Updated:  21 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers