Mary Mullen

  • Assistant Professor, English
  • Villanova University

Writing— CV


  • “‘A Great Public Transaction:’ Fast Days, Famine, and the British State.” Victorian Studies. Forthcoming, issue 61.3.
  • “Anachronism.” Victorian Literature and Culture.
  • “How the Irish Became Settlers: Metaphors of Indigeneity and the Erasure of Indigenous Peoples.” New Hibernia Review.
  • “In Search of Shared Time: National Imaginings in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South.” in Place, Progress, and Personhood in the Works of Elizabeth Gaskell. Ed. Emily Morris, Sarina Gruver Moore, Lesa Scholl (Farnham/Gower: Ashgate, 2015). 107-119.
  • “The Public Humanities’s (Victorian) Culture Problem” Cultural Studies.
  • “Anachronistic Aesthetics: Maria Edgeworth and the ‘Uses’ of History” Eighteenth-Century Fiction[pdf]
  • “Untimely Development, Ugly History: A Drama in Muslin and the Rejection of National-Historical Time.” Victoriographies[pdf]
  • “Two Clocks: Aurora Leigh, Poetic Form, and the Politics of Timeliness.” Victorian Poetry[pdf]
  • “Anachronisms against Antiquarianism” V21 Collective
  • “Bogland: Land and Labor in Nineteenth-Century Ireland.” Literature, Social Justice, and the Environment blog.
  • “What is (old about) 21st Century Studies?” Thinking C21
  • “Manliness and Mother Ireland.” Review of Joseph Valente’sThe Myth of Manliness in Irish National Culture, 1880-1922. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies.
  • Review of David Lloyd’s Irish Times. Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net.

Book Projects

Novel Institutions: Anachronism, Irish Novels and Nineteenth-Century Realism (forthcoming, Edinburgh University Press)

Advancing a transnational theory of nineteenth-century British realism while offering a new understanding of the politics of institutions, Novel Institutions argues that realist novels offer strategies for inhabiting institutions while imagining both politics and history otherwise. Although these novels uphold institutions’ temporal logic insofar as they work to define both modernity and futurity in institutional terms, their prevalent anachronisms—out-of-date characters, obsolete practices, and chronological mistakes—restore the full range of historical and political possibilities. Such anachronisms are more prevalent and pronounced in Irish realist novels, where colonial institutions violently tried to replace traditional Irish community formations. But this book contends that the explicit anachronisms that shape Irish realism are not anomalous: they make the tension between the shared time of institutions and the unruly politics of anachronisms visible in British realist novels. Whether Maria Edgeworth’s Thady Quirk who shows that traditional pasts, seemingly useless within modern Ireland, can inspire new futures or George Eliot’s Maggie Tulliver’s anachronistic reading which unsettles the sense of historical inevitability that results from path-dependent historicism by collapsing the distance between past and present, anachronisms demonstrate the political possibilities of untimeliness. Realist novels encourage readers to refuse institutional time in order to imagine a future that does not simply extend existing social arrangements.

The Politics of Public Interest

The Politics of Public Interest investigates nineteenth-century constructions of public interest: a concept that suggests both the public good and shared interest. Many political scientists understand public interest to be an ideal that liberal democratic governments attempt to represent and realize. But how do the politics of public interest function in practice? Drawing on nineteenth-century thinkers like John Stuart Mill and Matthew Arnold to define public interest as resulting from the transformation of self-interest into apparent disinterestedness, the first chapter articulates the colonial politics of public interest. The book then focuses on a series of cases that mobilize distinct ideas of public interest—governmental responses to the Great Irish Famine of 1845-51, university reform of Oxford and Cambridge in 1850s, and British interventions in Palestine, from the establishment of a British consulate in Jerusalem in 1838 to the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Each of these cases show that public interest is a strategy for managing minority difference: a way establishing a vision of the public and an understanding of interest that fundamentally depends upon but disavows difference.