Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm, Trinity Hall



Biographical Information

I am a University Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature and a Fellow and Director of Studies in English at Trinity Hall.  I studied Arts/ Law at the Australian National University and the University of Tasmania before working as a lawyer in private practice, where I dealt primarily with criminal cases. I came to Cambridge on a scholarship to write my PhD on changing conceptions of evidence and testimony in the literature of the long nineteenth century.  After I finished my PhD, I held a Junior Research Fellowship before taking up a post as College Teaching Officer in English at Trinity Hall in 2000.

Research Interests

I work on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, with a particular interest in authors whose writings engage intensely with law and the rhetoric of empiricism (especially Henry Fielding, William Godwin, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot); literature and theology (especially ideas of atonement, reconciliation, sacrifice, and the role played by mercy and forgiveness in public life); legal history, the law of evidence and professional ethics; Victorian jurisprudence (ideas of equity and equitability; institutional reform; penal policy; the tension between the rule of law and the martial force of empire); literary representations of Chartism, Chartist poetry, and mid-Victorian socialist thought; theatre history, religious drama and censorship.

Work in Progress:

I am currently developing a new project on nineteenth-century histories of the rule of law, and the challenge posed to that ideal by 'frontier wars' and the imposition of martial law in various parts of the expanding British Empire.  As part of this project, I am also currently working on the continuity and/ or disruption of various literary and legal forms in the course of voluntary or involuntary migration, with particular emphasis on the global appeal of Charles Dickens in the literature of Empire and in contemporary Australasian fiction.

Editorial Work:

I am Co-General Editor, with Professor Christopher Ricks, of the 11-volume edition of the Selected Works of James Fitzjames Stephen for Oxford University Press.  I am also on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Nineteenth-Century Series for Anthem Press, and the Law, Culture, and Humanities monograph series for Edinburgh University Press.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I teach an optional seminar course entitled 'Victorian Literature and Public Discourse; or, a Literary History of Human Rights' for  the MPhil on Modern and Contemporary Literature.  In 2016-17, I will be convening a new seminar course entitled 'Charles Dickens and the Modern Literary Imagination: Great Expectations and Postcolonial Critique'.  I regularly supervise MPhil and PhD dissertations on fiction of the long nineteenth century.

Selected Publications


  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, Censorship, Dramatic Form, and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England (forthcoming).
  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, Atonement and Self-Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Narrative (Cambridge University Press, 2012), xii + 289pp. 
  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, Testimony and Advocacy in Victorian Law, Literature, and Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2000), xvi +244pp. 

Edited Volumes:

  • Jan-Melissa Schramm and Alex Houen (eds.), Sacrifice and the Modern Literature of War (forthcoming, Oxford University Press)
  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, Yota Batsaki, and Subha Mukherji (eds.), Fictions of Knowledge: Fact, Evidence, Doubt (Macmillan, 2011).

Articles and Book Chapters:

  • '"The highest interest of mankind must be a common and not a divided interest": Literature and the Labour of Representation in Nineteenth-Century Britain', in Marcus Waithe and Claire White (eds.), The Labour of Literature in Britain and France, 1830-1930: Authorial Work Ethics (forthcoming, Macmillan).
  • 'Angels ... recognize our innocence': On Theology and Human Rights in the Fiction of the Brontes', in Alexandra Lewis (ed.), The Brontes and the Idea of the Human (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).
  • '"I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous, and happy": The Crimean War and the "Inspiration" of (Self-)Sacrifice in mid-Victorian Fiction', in Houen and Schramm (eds.,), Sacrifice and the Modern Literature of War (forthcoming, Oxford University Press).
  • 'Wrongs: Negligence, Neighbourliness, and the Duty of Care in Nineteenth-Century Narrative' in Ian Ward (ed.,) The Cultural History of Law (forthcoming, Oxford; Hart Publishing).
  • 'The Bible and the Realist Novel', in Mark Knight (ed.), A Companion to Literature and Religion (London: Routledge, 2016), pp. 263-273.
  • '"Let us carve him as a feast fit for the gods': Girard and Unjust Execution in Nineteenth-Century Narrative', in Pierpaolo Antonello and Heather Web (eds.), Mimesis, Desire, and the Novel: Rene Girard and Literary Criticism (Michigan State UP, 2015), pp. 161-173.
  • [with Simon Petch], 'Legal', in Herbert Tucker (ed.), A New Companion to Victorian Literature and Culture (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), pp. 156-171.
  • 'From Virtue to Goodness: Biblical Values in Victorian Literature', in Stephen Prickett (ed.), The Bible and the Arts (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), pp. 493-506.
  • 'Wilde and Christ', in Kerry Powell and Peter Raby (eds.), Oscar Wilde in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 253-60.
  • 'The Victorian Novel and the Law', in Lisa Rodensky (ed.), The Oxford Handbook to the Victorian Novel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 507-528.
  • 'George Eliot and the Law', in Amanda Anderson and Harry Shaw (eds.), A Companion to George Eliot (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), pp. 309-322.
  • 'On Goodness and Genre: Talking about Virtue in Law and Literature', in Fiona Smith and Michael Freeman (eds.), Law and Language (Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 151-163.
  • 'Dickens and the National Interest: On the Representation of Parties in Bleak House', Law and the Humanities (2012), vol. 6: 2, 219-244.
  • 'Towards a Poetics of (Wrongful) Accusation: Innocence and Working-Class Voice in mid-Victorian Fiction', in Batsaki, Mukherji, and Schramm (eds.), Fictions of Knowledge, cited above (2011), pp. 193-212. 
  • 'The Law' in Charles Dickens in Context, ed. Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux (Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 310-17. 
  • 'Institutional Processes: Witnessing', The Cambridge Companion to Law and the Humanities, ed. Austin Sarat et al, (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 178-195.
  • 'Dickens and the Law' in The Companion to Charles Dickens, ed. David Paroissien, (Blackwells, 2008), pp. 277-293.
  • '"The Anatomy of a Barrister's Tongue": Rhetoric, Satire, and the Victorian Bar in England', Victorian Literature and Culture, vol.32.2, (2004), 285-303
  • 'Vicarious Villainy and the Burden of Narrative Guilt', The Devil Himself: Villainy in Detective Fiction and Film, ed. Stacey Gillis and Philippa Gates, (Greenwood Press, 2002), pp. 11-23.
  • 'Is Literature more Ethical than Law? James Fitzjames Stephen and Literary Responses to the Advent of Full Legal Representation for Felons', in Law and Literature, ed. Michael Freeman and Andrew Lewis, (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 417-35.