Alison Booth

Professor Alison Booth
Project Director English Language and Literature; Professor of English, Director, Scholars Lab

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. I have completed a book that further explores reception history and collective biographical representation, "Homes and Haunts: Touring Writers’ Shrines and Countries," forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2016. This is a transatlantic study of writers’ house museums and narratives of pilgrimage in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


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

Experience and Service 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
  • Editorial Boards: PMLA 2015-2016; 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.
  • President, Society for the Study of Narrative Literature, 2005. Perkins Prize Committee for Best Book on Narrative, 2006-2007
  • 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.)
  • Conference Co-organizer: 3rd Annual North American Victorian Studies Association Conference, University of Virginia, 30 September-2 October 2005

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