1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Alison Booth


436 Bryan Hall

Office Hours:

M 3:30-5:00

W 11:00-11:45; 1:00-1:45

Class Schedule:

MW 12:00-12:50; 2:00-3:15


Ph.D. Princeton, 1986
M.A. Princeton, 1983
M.F.A. Cornell, 1979
B.A. Bennington, 1976

I enjoy teaching courses in Victorian fiction, women writers, Gothic, narrative theory, auto/biography, travel, and other topics, uniting my research interests and willingness to adapt technology in the classroom with my insistence on critical and writing skills.  In research, I have expanded my feminist and narratological studies of cultural and literary history in Britain and North America since 1830 into digital humanities and bibliography.  A continuing theme in my books and articles has been the reception history of authors and the construction of collective biographical histories, or prosopographies; this theme informed my first book, on historical concepts of a common life and a female literary tradition in George Eliot and Virginia Woolf and it continues in my explorations of public representations of imagined community such as Mount Rushmore and of cultural tourism, museums, and biography. I have persistently worked across the boundaries of period (nineteenth to twentieth centuries), nationality (particularly transatlantic Anglophone), media and audience (word-image, novel and film, celebrity and popular culture).  My work in narrative theory has focused on life writing and the prevalent form of collections of short biographies (prosopographies), concentrated in my bibliography of collective biographies of women and the related book, How to Make It as a Woman (2004).  The annotated bibliography has been developed as an online site sponsored by the University of Virginia Library, and now forms part of the peer-reviewed NINES digital consortium.  In 2010, with collaborators in Scholars' Lab, we launched a new version of "CBW."  In 2010-2012, as Resident Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, we developed a schema (Biographical Elements and Structure Schema) for comparative analysis of versions of one person's life or short biographies in various types of collection, along with a database of the 8,000 women in the 12,000+ collections in the project.    Meanwhile, I am nearing completion of a book, another exploration of reception, cultural tradition, and collective biographical representation.  Entitled “Writers Revisited: Transatlantic Literary Tourism, House Museums, and Biography,” it focuses on the narratives and performances of visits to the writer's house as tourism and museums evolved along with Anglo-American canons in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


19th C British, Biography, Digital Humanities, Narrative Theory, Textual Studies, Women's Studies


How to Make It as a Woman, University of Chicago Press, 2004

Winner of the Barbara Penny Kanner Award. 

Greatness Engendered, Cornell University Press, 1992

Edited Works

The Norton Introduction to Literature, W. W. Norton & Company, 2010
Wuthering Heights, Pearson Education, 2008
Famous Last Words, University of Virginia Press, 1993


Collective Biographies of Women: An Annotated Bibliography. Based on bibliography of 930 collections in How to Make It as a Woman. Accepted NINES consortium, 2007.  Images, links to other databases and digitized books, and other functions and features added 2008, 2010.  Tables of contents and annotations added, 2011-2012.  Continuing project.

Selected Articles Since 1995

  • “Feminist George Eliot Comes from United States,” Blackwell Companion to George Eliot, ed. Amanda Anderson and Harry Shaw, forthcoming.
  • “Houses and Things: Literary Memorial House Museums as Collective Biography,” in Museums and Biographies, ed. Kate Hill.  Heritage Matters Series (Boydell & Brewer, 2011), 231-46.
  • “Recovery 2.0: Beginning the Collective Biographies of Women Project.”  Innovations series.  Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 28:1 (Spring 2009): 15-35.
  • “Life Writing,” The Cambridge Companion to British Literature 1837-1914, ed. Joanne Shattock, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 50-70.
  • “Dickensian Time Travel,” in Literary Tourism and Nineteenth-Century Culture, ed. Nicola J. Watson. London: Palgrave, 2009), 150-63.    
  • “Author Country: Longfellow, the Brontës, and Anglophone Homes and Haunts,” Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, Special Issue: Victorian Internationalisms, ed. Lauren Goodlad and Julia M. Wright, 48 (November 2007). 
  • “Revisiting the Homes and Haunts of Mary Russell Mitford,” Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 30:1 (2008): 39-65.
  • “Fighting for Lives in the ODNB, or Taking Prosopography Personally,” Journal of Victorian Culture 10:2 (2005): 267-79.
  • “Men and Women of the Time: Victorian Prosopographies,” in Life Writing and Victorian Culture, ed. David Amigoni.  London: Ashgate, 2005.  41-66. 
  • “The Changing Faces of Mount Rushmore: Collective Portraiture and Participatory National Heritage,” in A Companion to Narrative Theory, ed. James Phelan and Peter Rabinowitz.  Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.  337-55. 
  • “The Real Right Place of Henry James: Homes and Haunts,” The Henry James Review 25 (2004): 216-27.
  • “Neo-Victorian Self-Help, or Cider House Rules,” American Literary History 14 (2002): 284-310.
  • “The Lessons of the Medusa: Anna Jameson and Collective Biographies of Women,” Victorian Studies 42:2 (Winter 1999/2000): 257-88.
  • “The Scent of a Narrative: Rank Discourse in Flush and Written on the Body," Narrative 8 (January 2000): 3-22.
  • “The Mother of All Cultures: Camille Paglia and Feminist Mythologies,” The Kenyon Review 21 (1999): 27-45.
  • "Illustrious Company: Victoria Among Other Women in Anglo-American Role Model Anthologies," in Remaking Queen Victoria, ed. Margaret Homans and Adrienne Munich.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.  59-78.
  • "From Miranda to Prospero: The Works of Fanny Kemble," Victorian Studies (Winter, 1995): 227-54.

Poetry “Cloud Gate,” in “Monday’s Poem,” Guest Blogger Lisa Spaar, The Chronicle of Higher Education Online, December 18, 2011.  http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/mondays-poem-cloud-gate-by-alison-booth/42189.  4 May 2012. Cited: The 312, Chicago Magazine Staff Blog, Chicago Magazine, Feb. 20, 2012. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/February-2012/Last-Chance-for-Luminous-Field-at-Millennium-Park/  4 May 2012.

Selected Invited Lectures and Conferences (Since 2002)

  • Plenary Speaker, “Social Networks in Old and New Media,”  “Life-Writing Conference,” The Huntington Library, 30 March 2012.
  • Plenary Speaker, “A Feminist Narratology in the Digital Age: Collective Biographies of Women,” Queer and Feminist Narrative Theories, Project Narrative Symposium, Ohio State University, 14 May 2011.
  • Invited panelist, “Using Technology for Research,” Biographers International Organization, Compleat Biographer Conference, National Press Club, Washington DC, 21 May 2011.
  • “Homes and Haunts: Authors’ Houses, Museums, and Biography,” Lecture and Class, Long Romanticism Study Group, Brigham Young University, 7 March 2011.
  • “Close-ups on the Biographical Web: Collective Biographies of Women Since 1830,” Lecture, Georgia Colloquium in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature, University of Georgia, 21 October 2010.
  • “Museums and/as Biographies,” Babcock Lecture at Hartwick College, April 2010.
  • Keynote: “Ghost Walking in Cheyne Row: Carlyle’s House,” Victorian Heritage, St. Deiniol’s Library, Hawarden, Wales, June 2008.
  • Keynote: “Transatlantic Author Country,” Literary Tourism and Nineteenth-Century Culture, Institute for English Studies, University of London, 8 June 2007.
  • Keynote: “The Likes of Sister Dora: Representing Eminent Victorian Women,” Victorians Institute, 21 October 2006.
  • Featured Workshop: “Literature Travels, but the Author Is Always at Home,” North American Victorian Studies Conf, 1 Sept. 2006.
  • Invited Lecture: “A Guide to Prosopography: Collecting Authors’ Homes and Haunts,” Department of English, UCLA, 23 January 2003.
  • Session Organizer: “Sketches from Life,” Autobiography, Biography and Life Writing Division, MLA, 2007.
  • Seminar Organizer: “The Author Business,” Modernist Studies Association 7, Chicago, 3 November 2005.“Living Periodically,” Victorian Division Panel, MLA Convention, 2005.
  • “Ghosts, Relics, and Replicas: Dickensian Homes and Haunts,” Dickens Project, 2005.
  • “A Grammar of Literary Pilgrimage,” Narrative Conference, 7-10 April 2005.
  • ”National Gothic, or Literary Homes and Haunts,” INCS, London, 11 July 2003.
  • “Homes and Haunts, or Gothic Life Narratives,” Narrative, 29 March 2003.
  • “The Real Right Place: Henry James and Homes and Haunts,” MLA, 2002.
  • “Class and the Houses of Authorship,” Modernist Studies Assoc., 2002.
  • “Compulsory Typology: Generations of Historical Women,” International Autobiography and Biography Assoc., Melbourne, Australia, 15-19 July 2002.
  • “The Author in the House: A Woman’s Guide to British Literary Geography,” British Women Writers Conference, 18-21 April 2002.
  • “Collecting Authoriana: Carlyle’s House and the Literary Museum,” INCS, 2002.

Selected Awards and Professional Activity

  • ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship and Sesquicentennial Fellowship: Jan.-Dec. 2014.  Sabbatical salary and project costs.
  • Resident Fellow, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, 2010-2012
  • Advisory Board, North American Victorian Studies Association (elected 2011)
  • Professor, Bread Loaf School of English, summer 2006, 2008.
  • Project Coordinator, Center for the Liberal Arts, 2003-present (Short courses for high school English teachers in the area and state).
  • Barbara Penny Kanner Award for Bibliomethodology, Western Association of Women Historians, for How to Make It as a Woman.
  • Fellow, Virginia Center for the Humanities, 1993.
  • President, Society for the Study of Narrative Literature, 2005.  Perkins Prize Committee for Best Book on Narrative, 2006-2007.
  • Conference Co-organizer: 3rd Annual North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, University of Virginia, 30 September-2 October 2005.
  • “The Margins and Settings of Life-Writing,” University of Virginia, February 22-23, 2002.
  • Editorial Boards: University of Virginia Press, 2005-07; Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies; South Atlantic Review; Lifewriting Annual.
  • MLA: Executive Committee, Autobiography, Biography, and Life Writing 2006-2010; Radio Committee 2009-2011; Chair, 2009-2010; Member, Lowell Prize Committee, 2007; Chair, 2008; Delegate Assembly Organizing Committee, 1996-1998; Chair, Committee on Honors and Awards, 1997-1998.

Administrative Experience since 1995

  • Interim Chair, Department of English, Spring 2007
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English, 2000-2003
  • Director of Graduate Admissions, Department of English, 1999
  • Associate Dean for Personnel and Planning in Arts and Sciences, 1995-1998: faculty recruitment, appointment, honors, fellowships, and leaves; affirmative action and sexual harassment; promotion and tenure; annual salary and post-tenure review.
  • Acting Chair, Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, 1997-1998