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Photo of Kimberly Stern, taken by Sarah Boyd

Associate Professor / Director of Graduate Studies

2005, PhD English, Princeton University

1999, B.A. Reed College


Kimberly J. Stern earned her Ph.D. from Princeton University, with a special focus on Victorian literature and culture. Although much of her research engages with the history and politics of intellectual culture, Stern’s teaching and scholarly interests include several broader fields of inquiry, including women’s writing, the novel, aesthetic theory, drama, and the British fin de siècle.

Stern was the recipient of a Humanities Writ Large fellowship at Duke University in 2014. During her time at Duke, she completed a critical edition of Oscar Wilde’s controversial play Salome (Broadview Press, 2015). 

Stern’s first monograph, The Social Life of Criticism: Gender, Critical Writing, and the Politics of Belonging,  was published by University of Michigan Press in 2016. Tracing the work of aspiring female critics from the eighteenth century to the end of the Victorian period, Stern contends that a sustained engagement with gendered forms of sociability shaped the critical work of women writers (including Anna Jameson, George Eliot, Vernon Lee, and others). As the book explores representations of critical communities—from the Spectator Club and the “tavern sages” to the “antisocial” impulses of the 1890s—it argues that the history of criticism is inextricable from the history of gender.

In 2019, Stern published an intellectual biography, Oscar Wilde: A Literary Life with Palgrave. The following year,  she completed a critical edition of Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus through the COVE Collective ( Stern serves as co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Nineteenth Century Studies.

Stern is currently at work on a book, which  places late nineteenth-century writers like Oscar Wilde, John Ruskin, Henry James, and others in dialogue with important educational reformers of the nineteenth century. Inspired by her work in the classroom, this project seeks to uncover how late Victorian thinkers anticipated and might help to enrich contemporary debates about the cultural value of humanistic study.


  • Oscar Wilde: A Literary Life. New York: Palgrave, 2019.
  • “At Wit’s End: The Aesthetic Pedagogy of Oscar Wilde.” Nineteenth Century Studies 28 (2018): 1-19.
  • The Social Life of Criticism: Gender, Critical Writing, and the Politics of Belonging. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. [Short-listed for the 2016 Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize]
  • Oscar Wilde’s Salome. Ed. Kimberly J. Stern. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2015.
  • “A Want of Taste’: Carnivorous Desire in Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers.Victorian Review 38.1 (2013): 155-72.
  • “The Poetics of Criticism: Philosophical Discourse and George Eliot’s ‘A College Breakfast Party.’ ” George Eliot and the Poetics of Disbelief. George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies 60-1 (September 2011): 91-106.

Teaching Awards

  • Faculty Mentor Award, CoLEAGS, 2017


  • Humanities Writ Large (Duke University), Fall 2014
  • Caroline D. Bain Scholar in Residence (Smith College), 2006-2007

Courses Taught:

  • (ENG 121) British Literature, Romanticism to the Twentieth Century
  • (ENG 123) Introduction to Fiction
  • (ENG 241) Studies in Oscar Wilde
  • (ENG 263) Literature and Gender
  • (ENG 355) The British Novel from 1870 to World War II
  • (ENG 839) Philosophies of the Victorian Novel
  • (ENG 842) British Literature at the Fin de Siècle