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Dr Michael Meeuwis

The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul.

Associate Professor (Reader)

Chair, Arts Equality and Inclusion Forum
Director, MA English Literature


Room FAB5.09
Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL



I write about British literature, political theory, and theories of performance. Everyone's Theater: Literature and Daily Life in England, 1860-1914 (University of Michigan Press, 2019) reconstructs the mass popular theatre of England in the later nineteenth century. I build around these popular performances a media theory of later-Victorian personhood and politics. Finance and Property on the Post-Brexit London Stage: We Want What You Have (Routledge, 2021) turns to the very recent past. Here, I theorize recent London performance via life and politics in the city following the UK's decision to leave the European Union. I show how private property ownership has become an unquestioned value in even the most progressive venues. As part of teaching Austen in Theory, I'm completing Reading Austen Now, a reading manual for advanced general readers seeking to read the novels more closely: in their own right, and in terms of their era's dominant philosophies. Finally, a new monograph, very tentatively titled Look Back in Race, returns me to archives around the UK to uncover an intersectional history of the postwar English stage.

I like big stories about culture told through overlooked details. Running throughout my work is an interest in how cultural metanarratives--systems like aesthetic philosophy, political theory, or governmental advice--play out in the granular lived experience of texts designated as "literary."

Research interests

I'm a literary historian of the British eighteenth through twenty-first centuries, with an ongoing interest in theatre and performance; or, a performance historian with a side hustle in literature. My first book discusses performance in Britain and its empire during the later Victorian and Edwardian periods; my second, performance in post-Brexit London. I'm currently moving backwards to write about Jane Austen, and slightly less farther back to consider the migrant history of England's 1950 and 1960s theatre.

As the ramp-up to the second book, I maintained an informal theatregoing blog.

Teaching and supervision

I welcome proposals for undergraduate or postgraduate theses discussing eighteenth-century through contemporary British literature, performance studies and drama, contemporary theatre, and liberal political theory's relationship to literature.

I've written some writing advice for my students during the COVID-19 situation. Here also is advice about close reading, what it means, and how to practice it.


  • Finance and Property on the Post-Brexit London Stage: We Want What You Have (2021, Routledge)
  • “Politics of City and Nation,” in A Cultural History of Tragedy in the Age of Empire, eds. Michael Gamer and Diego Saglia (2019, Bloomsbury)

  • Everyone's Theater: Daily Life and Literature in England, 1860-1914 (2019, University of Michigan Press)
  • "Full Content: Shaw's Paratexts, Social Liberalism, and Harmonization," in The Entangled Careers of Liberalism and Literature (2018, University of Toronto Press)
  • "Herbert Spencer, Gerard Hopkins, and the Force of Poetic Expression,” Modern Philology, Volume 113, no. 2, November 2015
  • “Representative Government: The ‘Problem Play,’ Quotidian Culture, and the Making of Social Liberalism,” English Literary History (ELH), Volume 80, Number 4, Winter 2013
  • “‘The Theatre Royal Back Drawing-Room:’ Professionalizing Domestic Entertainment in Victorian Acting Manuals,” Victorian Studies 54 (Spring 2012).
  • “Living the Dream: The Golden Bowl and Benjamin’s Arcades Project,” The Henry James Review 27 (Winter 2006).


  • BA (Toronto)
  • MA (Rice)
  • PhD (University of Chicago)

Fall 2023

Office hours TBD

Teaching 2023-4

Austen in Theory (time tbd)

Fashion and Literature (time tbd)