Albert Pionke

Albert Pionke

William and Margaret Going Endowed Professor of English


  • PhD, English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2000
  • MA, English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997
  • BA, English, French, Humanities, Valparaiso University, 1996

Research Areas

  • 19th-Century British Literature
  • Digital Humanities
  • Critical Theory


Albert Pionke joined the faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor. He was awarded tenure and the rank of associate professor in 2009, and was promoted to professor in 2014. Between fall 2016 and spring 2019, he served a three-year appointment as a College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Board Faculty Fellow.  In February 2019, he was named the William and Margaret Going Endowed Professor of English.

A Victorian specialist, Pionke is particularly interested in theories, practices, and textualities of secrecy; in rhetorical and material strategies of social stratification; in Victorian representations of the East and West Indies; and in the intersecting disciplinary histories of literature and sociology. His book on the first topic, Plots of Opportunity, shows the ways in which members of underenfranchised constituencies-trade unionists, Roman Catholics, Indian subjects-were often publicly represented as conspirators whenever they sought to better their collective status. His book on the second topic, The Ritual Culture of Victorian Professionals, reconstructs the central role of collective ritual in the competition for professional status by groups ranging from Oxbridge educators to barristers to Members of Parliament to novelists. His work on the third topic includes essays on Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King,” the uniquely Victorian vision of Cuba that appears in nineteenth-century British periodicals, and the visual record in Punch and elsewhere of the failed Lopez expedition to “liberate” Cuba from Spanish colonial control in 1850. His in-process co-edited volume, The Socio-Literary Imaginary in 19th and 20th Century Britain, along with essays in Studies in the Novel, Dickens Studies Annual, and Philosophy and Literature, represent his most explicit forays into the fourth topic.

Working collaboratively with the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Pionke is also currently engaged in a project to digitize and make fully searchable all marginalia in Somerville College’s John Stuart Mill Library. Visit the home page of Mill Marginalia Online, and begin your own search through the marks and annotations with which James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and others recorded their own experiences as readers.

Pionke was the host of the 2007 Victorian Institute conference and the 2015 UA Symposium on English and American Literature.

Selected Publications

Books Authored

  • Teaching Later British Literature: A Thematic Approach.  Forthcoming from Anthem Press.
  • The Ritual Culture of Victorian Professionals: Competing for Ceremonial Status, 1838-1877.  Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2013.
  • Plots of Opportunity: Representing Conspiracy in Victorian England. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004.

Books Edited

  • The Socio-Literary Imaginary in 19th and 20th Century Britain: Victorian and Edwardian Inflections.  Forthcoming from Routledge.  Co-edited with Maria K. Bachman.
  • Thomas Carlyle and the Idea of Influence.  Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018. Co-edited with Megan Dent and Paul Kerry.
  • Victorian Secrecy: Economies of Knowledge and Concealment.  Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2010. Co-edited with Denise Millstein.

Select Articles and Essays

  • “Introduction: Carlyle’s Networks of Influence,” Thomas Carlyle and the Idea of Influence, Eds. Kerry, Pionke, and Dent, Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018, pp. 1-24.
  • “Influence as Palimpsest: Carlyle, Mill, Sterling,” Thomas Carlyle and the Idea of Influence, Eds. Kerry, Pionke, and Dent, Teaneck, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2018, pp. 293-304.
  • “‘Master Jonathan’ in Cuba: A Case Study in Colonial Bildungskarikatur,”  forthcoming in Cartoon Imperialism, Eds. Richard Scully and Andrekos Varnava, Manchester: Manchester University Press.  Co-authored with Frederick Whiting.
  • “’Horn-Handed and Pig-Headed’: British Reception of The Poets and Poetry of America,” Philosophy and Literature 41.2 (October 2017): 319-37.
  • “Recognizing Status in Charles Dickens’s Hard Times,” Dickens Studies Annual 48 (2017): 145-66.
  • “William North’s The City of the Jugglers and the ‘conventional necessity’ of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Fiction,” Studies in the Novel 47.2 (Summer 2015): 158-75.
  • “Excavating Victorian Cuba in the British Periodicals Database.” Victorian Periodicals Review 47.3 (Fall 2014): 369-97.
  • “The Epistemological Problem of British India in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Man Who Would Be King,’” Victorian Literature and Culture 42.3 (September 2014): 335-50.
  • “Erotic, Prosodic, and Ethical-Aesthetic Forms of Triangulation in Augusta Webster’s Dramatic Studies and A Women Sold and Other Poems,” Victorian Poetry 51.4 (Winter 2013): 465-85.  Reprint in “Julia Augusta Webster,” Poetry Criticism 184.  Farmington Hill, MI: Gale Cengage Learning, 2016.  306-17.
  • “A Pedagogical Experiment in Crowdsourcing and Enumerative Bibliography,” Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 24.2 (2013): 5-22.
  • “The Spiritual Economy of ‘Goblin Market,’” SEL: Studies in English Literature 52.4 (Autumn 2012): 897-917.
  • “The Art of Manliness: Ekphrasis and/as Masculinity in George MacDonald’s Phantastes,” Studies in the Novel 43.1 (Spring 2011): 21-37.
  • “Victorian Secrecy: An Introduction,” Victorian Secrecy: Economies of Knowledge and Concealment, Eds. Pionke and Millstein, Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2010, pp. 1-14.
  • “Navigating ‘those terrible meshes of the Law’: Legal Realism in Anthony Trollope’s Orley Farm and The Eustace Diamonds,” ELH 77.1 (Spring 2010): 129-57.
  • “A Ritual Failure: The Eglinton Tournament, the Victorian Medieval Revival and Victorian Ritual Culture,” Studies in Medievalism XVI (2008): 25-45.
  • “‘I do swear’: Oath-Taking among the Elite Public in Victorian England,” Victorian Studies 49.4 (Summer 2007): 611-34.
  • “Degrees of Secrecy in Dickens’s Historical Fiction,” Dickens Studies Annual 38 (2007): 35-54.
  • “Beyond ‘The Hero as Prophet’: A Survey of Images of Islam in Carlyle’s Works,” Literature and Belief25.1&2 (2005): 497-511.
  • “Reframing the Luddites: Materialist and Idealist Models of Self in Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley,” Victorian Review 30.2 (2004): 81-102.
  • ‘“A sweet ‘Quod erat demonstrandum!’”: The Poetics of Parody in Constance Naden’s “Scientific Wooing,” CEAMAGazine 15 (2002): 3-11.  Reprint in “Constance Caroline Woodhill Naden,” Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism 313.  Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, Cengage Learning 2016.  300-303.
  • “Carlylean Nature,” Carlyle Studies Annual 20 (2001-2002): 7-26.
  • “Secreting Rebellion: From the Mutiny to the Moonstone,” Victorians Institute Journal 28 (2000): 109-40.
  • “Combining the Two Nations: Trade Unions as Secret Societies, 1837-45,” Victorian Newsletter 97 (Spring 2000): 1-14.

Digital Humanities Scholarship

Reviews and Review Essays

  • Published in Carlyle Studies AnnualNineteenth-Century LiteratureVictorian PoetryVictorian ReviewVictorian StudiesVictorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature, and Victorians Institute Journal