Prof Jan-Melissa Schramm, Trinity Hall



Biographical Information

I am Professor of Literature and Law, and a Fellow at Trinity Hall.  Originally from Tasmania, I studied Arts/ Law at the Australian National University before being admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1992.  I worked briefly as a lawyer in private practice, where I dealt primarily with criminal cases, before coming to Cambridge on a scholarship to write my PhD on changing conceptions of testimony in the literature of the long nineteenth century.  I subsequently held a JRF and a College Teaching position in English before joining the Faculty.  

In the past few years, I have given papers to literary and/ or legal audiences in Venice, Florence, Lancaster, London, Berlin, Melbourne, Sydney, and Hobart.  As a consequence of my dual qualifications and my passionate commitment to interdisciplinary work, I served as Deputy Director of CRASSH for three years from 2017-2020.  I am on research leave for the academic year 2020-21.

Research Interests

My field of expertise is the history of the English novel and the wider cultural relations of law and the humanities.  I work mainly on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers (especially Henry Fielding, Jeremy Bentham, William Godwin, Charles Dickens, Henry Sumner Maine, and George Eliot); literature and theology (with a particular interest in sacrifice, and the role played by mercy and forgiveness in public life); legal history, the law of evidence and professional ethics (especially Victorian jurisprudence and institutional reform); literary histories of internationalism and nineteenth-century socialist thought; censorship and the legal regulation of cultural production.  My current project addresses forms of comparative constitutional scholarship in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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 have previously taught several optional seminar courses for the MPhil, most recently one entitled ‘Towards a Literary History of Human Rights’.  I currently co-teach the A-seminar module 'Narrative and Human Rights' with Prof. Sarah Dillon.  I regularly supervise MPhil and PhD dissertations on prose writing - both fictional and non-fictional - of the long nineteenth century.

Selected Publications


  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, ‘The English Novel and the Constitutional Imagination ’ (in preparation)
  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 2019), xii +268pp.
  • 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 (Oxford University Press, 2018), xiv +282pp.
  • Jan-Melissa Schramm, Yota Batsaki, and Subha Mukherji (eds.), Fictions of Knowledge: Fact, Evidence, Doubt (Macmillan, 2011), xii +248pp.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

  • 'Towards a Poetics of Internationalism: Literature and the Language of Rights in Nineteenth-Century England', in Subha Mukherji (ed.), Law and Poetics (forthcoming).
  • ‘On Rights, Radicalism, and the Bible in the 1790s’, in Stephen Prickett (ed.), Literature and the Bible (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming).
  • ‘The “Enabling Power” of Censorship? Religious Drama, the Law, and the Provocations of Form in Nineteenth-Century England’, in Angelika Zirker (ed.), Strategies of Ambiguity (forthcoming, Routledge).
  • 'The Role of Religious Thought in Interdisciplinary "Law and Literature" Studies', Modern Language Quarterly 83:4 (December 2022), 411-426.
  • '"I feel I am a Man and a Free Man too": Palawa voices and the ethics of representation in contemporary Tasmanian fiction', Journal of Postcolonial Writing 58:1 (2022), 36-50.
  • ‘Jeremy Bentham’s Imagination and the Ethics of Prose Style: Paraphrase, Substitution, Translation’, in Philip Schofield (ed.), Jeremy Bentham and the Arts (London: UCL Press, 2020).
  • ‘"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 (Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 167-188.
  • ‘Wrongs: Negligence, Neighbourliness, and the Duty of Care in Nineteenth-Century Narrative’ in Ian Ward (ed.) The Cultural History of Law in the Age of Reform (Oxford: Hart Publishing 2018), pp. 131-148.
  • ‘"A common and not a divided interest": Literature and the Labour of Representation in the Nineteenth Century’, in Marcus Waithe and Claire White (eds.), The Labour of Literature in Britain and France, 1830-1930: Authorial Work Ethics (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2018), pp. 27-42.
  • ‘The Crimean War and (Self-)Sacrifice in mid-Victorian Fiction’, in Houen and Schramm (eds.), Sacrifice and the Modern Literature of War (Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 34-48.
  • ‘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.