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Robert Edward Mitchell

Professor of English
90015, Durham, NC 27708
302A Allen, Durham, NC 27708


My research focuses on the long history of relationships among the sciences and the arts, with especial focus on the eighteenth century/Romantic era, and our present moment. I have published four single-author monographs: Sympathy and the State in the Romantic Era: Systems, State Finance, and the Shadows of Futurity (Routledge, 2007), Bioart and the Vitality of Media (U of Washington P, 2010), Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013), and Infectious Liberty: Biopolitics between Romanticism andLiberalism (Fordham UP, 2021). I am also co-author (along with sociologist Catherine Waldby) of the monograph Tissue Economies: Blood, Organs and Cell Lines in Late Capitalism (Duke UP, 2006), and co-author (along with media theorist Orit Halpern) of The Smartness Mandate (MIT Press, 2023). I am co-editor of several collections of essays, including Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information (Routledge, 2003), Romanticism and Modernity (Routledge, 2011), and Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media (Stanford UP, 2011). I have published articles in humanities, social science, and natural science journals, including Science, The American Journal of Bioethics, Biosocieties, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, European Romantic Review, Grey Room, South Atlantic Quarterly, Studies in Romanticism, and PMLA. My current research concentrates on relationships among biopolitics, the logic of populations, and the arts, and also on critical histories of the sciences, especially those of Hannah Arendt and Roberto Esposito.

My research approach is especially suited to graduate students interested in approaching the Romantic era as an inflection point within longer histories, particularly (though not exclusively) those that help us to understand the relationships of literature, the arts, and the sciences.

Office Hours


Tuesdays, 10:00 -11:30 (and by appointment)

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Professor of English · 2013 - Present English, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
Affiliate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society · 2014 - Present Duke Science & Society, Initiatives

Education, Training & Certifications

University of Washington · 2001 Ph.D.
University of California, Irvine · 1995 M.A.
University of Washington · 1994 B.A.