Susan David Bernstein

SDB head

Adjunct Professor

B.A. Bennington College
M.A., Ph.D., Brandeis University


Room 525

For CV click here

My research and teaching interests focus on Victorian literature and gender studies. My first book, Confessional Subjects: Gender and Power in Victorian Literature and Culture (1997) explores the relationship between confessional modes, informed by Foucault and Freud, and gender in novels by Charlotte Brontë, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy. My second book, Roomscape: Women Writers in the British Museum from George Eliot to Virginia Woolf (2013), argues that in contrast to Virginia Woolf’s claim in A Room of One’s Own that in order to write, women needed money and a room of their own, that many women in London found the national library and reading room a generative space for creative work and professional networking. More recently, I have been working on seriality in Victorian literature, not just as a form of print culture but also as a way of reading related to realism and the psychoanalytic concept of transference. I have used digital studies to analyze Victorian serials. I am also embarking on a project about Victorian death thinking, which links theories and practices around death to forms of narrative like closure. I am writing a memoir titled Unlikely Loves.

During my years on the faculty of the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1989-2017, I taught undergraduate and graduate courses on Victorian literature, on nineteenth-century transatlantic literature, on print culture and book history, on Victorian thing theory and material culture, on transatlantic Jewish literature, and on seriality in Victorian literature and culture. I’ve also taught courses on gender and life writing, and over the last few years, I’ve taught undergraduate creative nonfiction workshops.

I’m excited after my many years at Wisconsin to teach at BU. I’d be happy to speak with any students, graduate or undergraduate, with interests that overlap with mine

Selected Publications
  • Roomscape: Women Writers at the British Museum from George Eliot to Virginia Woolf (Edinburgh UP, 2013)
  • Victorian Vulgarity: Taste in Verbal and Visual Culture.  Co-editor with Elsie B. Michie. (Ashgate, 2009)
  • “Transatlantic Networks in the Nineteenth Century.” Teaching Transatlanticism. Eds. Linda K. Hughes and Sarah R. Robbins. (Edinburgh UP, 2015)
  • In Treatment with George Eliot: Realism as Transference.” RaVoN 63 (April 2013) Special issue “Television for Victorianists.” Ed. Caroline Levine.   https://www.erudit.org/en/journals/ravon/2013-n63-ravon01450/1025615ar/
  • “Reading Numbers by Numbers: Digital Studies and the Victorian Serial Novel,” with Catherine DeRose. Victorian Review 38.2 (Fall 2012. Special issue “Victorian Media.”
  • “Religion and Popular Beliefs: Women and Wandering Jews After Daniel Deronda,The Cultural History of Women in the Age of Empire (1800-1920). Vol. 5. Ed. Teresa Mangum. (Berg, 2013)
  • “Transatlantic Magnetism: Eliot’s ‘The Lifted Veil’ and Alcott’s Sensation Stories.” Transatlantic Sensations. Edited by John Barton and Jennifer Phegley.  (Ashgate, 2012)
  • “Transatlantic Sympathies and Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing, ” The Cambridge History of American Women’s Writing. Ed. Dale M. Bauer. (Cambridge UP, 2012)
Honors, Grants, and Awards
  • Residency, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, October 2016
  • Honored Instructor Award, University Housing Academic Initiative, UW-Madison, 2015
  • Distinguished Honors Faculty Award, UW-Madison, 2013
  • Feminist Scholars’ Fellowship, Women’s Studies Research Center, UW-Madison, 2010.
  • Resident Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities, UW-Madison, 2009.