Caroline Levine

Caroline Levine
7187 (Chair) and 6137 Helen C. White Hall
(608) 263-3765 (Chair) and (608) 262-7835
E-mail Caroline Levine
Victorian literature and culture, formalism, realism, narrative theory, world literature, and the relations between art and politics

Degrees and Institutions

PhD, University of London, 1996

AB, Princeton University, 1992

Selected Publications


Some Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • “From Nation to Network,” Victorian Studies 55:4 (summer 2013): 647-66.
  • “Rhyme, Rhythm, Violence: Elizabeth Barrett Browning on Slavery,” in The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry, ed. Matthew Bevis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013: 309-322.
  • “Surprising Realism,” in A Companion to George Eliot, eds. Amanda Anderson and Harry Shaw. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013: 62-75.
  • “The Great Unwritten: World Literature and the Effacement of Orality,” MLQ 74:2 (June 2013): 217-37.
  • “Extraordinary Ordinariness: Realism Now and Then,” in “Television for Victorianists,” a special issue of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 63 (April 2013).
  • “Victorian Realism,” for the Cambridge Companion to the Victorian Novel (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
  • “The Shock of the Banal: Mad Men’s Progressive Realism,” in Mad World, ed. Lauren M. E. Goodlad (Duke University Press, 2013), 133-44.
  • “Rhythms, Poetic and Political,” Victorian Poetry 49:2 (Summer 2011): 235-252.
  • “Thing, Feeling, Form,” in Novel: A Forum on Fiction 44(1) (2011): 107-114.
  • “Infrastructuralism, or the Tempo of Institutions,” in On Periodization: Selected Essays from the English Institute, ed. Virginia Jackson (ACLS Humanities E-Book, 2010)
  • “Narrative Networks: Bleak House and the Affordances of Form,” Novel 42:3 (fall 2009): 517-23.
  • “Reading at the Time,” ELN 46 (spring/summer 2008): 135-46.
  • “Formal Pasts and Formal Possibilities in Victorian Studies,” Literature Compass (May 2007).
  • “Strategic Formalism: Towards a New Method in Cultural Studies,” Victorian Studies 48 (summer 2006): 625-57. Honorable mention for the Donald Gray Prize. 

Works Online


My research and teaching interests include Victorian literature and culture, formalism, realism, narrative theory, world literature, and the relations between art and politics. I am now building on the work of my recent book, Forms, to focus on the importance of repetition to both social relations and literary forms, and I am an editor for The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Both my published work and my teaching aim to bridge the gap between historical-political approaches to culture and the more traditional techniques of literary formalism. I am a co-organizer of the Sawyer Seminar on World Literature and founder of the Creative Arts and Design Residential Learning Community.

Selected Courses

  • Detective Fiction
  • Work and Art in the Nineteenth Century
  • Victorian Liberalism After 9/11
  • Art on Trial: Rebellious Artists, Free Speech, and Democratic Society
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature as World Literature
  • British and Anglophone Literature, 1750-present
  • What Are We Doing Here? Education in Literature and Theory
  • Victorian Poetry
  • The Brontës
  • The Brownings
  • Representing Culture in an Age of Networks: The Wire and Others (faculty development seminar co-taught with Lewis Friedland)

Recent Books

  • Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network

    Caroline Levine



    Forms offers a powerful new answer to one of the most pressing problems facing literary, critical, and cultural studies today--how to connect form to political, social, and historical context. Caroline Levine argues that forms organize not only works of art but also political life--and our attempts to know both art and politics. Inescapable and frequently troubling, forms shape every aspect of our experience. But forms don't impose their order in any simple way.

  • Od prowokacji do demokracji

    Caroline Levine

    Muza SA


     Translated by Antoni Top

     Polish translation of Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts

  • Norton Anthology of World Literature (3rd Edition)

    Caroline Levine, Ed.

    W.W. Norton and Co.


    A classic, reimagined.

    Read by millions of students since its first publication, The Norton Anthology of World Literature remains the most-trusted anthology of world literature available.

  • Narrative Middles: Navigating the Nineteenth-Century Novel

    Caroline Levine & Mario Ortiz-Robles, Eds.

    Ohio State University Press


    In this groundbreaking collection of essays, Narrative Middles: Navigating the Nineteenth-Century British Novel, nine literary scholars offer innovative approaches to the study of the underrepresented middle of the vast, bulky nineteenth-century multiplot novel. 

  • Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts

    Caroline Levine



    This ground-breaking book provides a provocative and compelling exploration of the complex relationship between democracy and the arts. It analyses the roles of dissenting and unpopular artists, such as Jackson Pollock, Bertolt Brecht, D. H. Lawrence, and 2 Live Crew in twentieth century society.

  • The Serious Pleasures of Suspense: Victorian Realism and Narrative Doubt

    Caroline Levine

    University of Virginia Press


    The Serious Pleasures of Suspense argues that a startling array of nineteenth-century thinkers—from John Ruskin and Michael Faraday to Charlotte Brontë and Wilkie Collins —saw suspense as the perfect vehicle for a radically new approach to knowledge that they called "realism."

  • From Author to Text: Re-reading George Eliot’s Romola

    Caroline Levine & Mark W. Turner, Eds.

    Ashgate Press


  • The Children of Athena: Athenian Ideas About Citizenship and the Division Between the Sexes, by Nicole Loraux

    Caroline Levine, Trans.

    Princeton University Press


    In these essays, the renowned French Hellenist Nicole Loraux examines the implication of various Greek origin myths as she explores how Athenians in the fifth century forged and maintained a collective identity.