Deborah Lutz


Contact Information


Dr. Deborah Lutz’s book Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015), supported by an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, analyzes the collecting and revering of the artifacts and personal effects of the dead as affirmations that objects held memories and told stories. The love of these keepsakes in the 19th century speaks of an intimacy with the body and death, a way of understanding absence through its materials, almost lost to us today. But more importantly, these practices show a belief in keeping death vitally intertwined with life—not as generalized memento mori but rather as respecting the singularity of unique beings whose loss needed to be always remembered.

Her most recent book, entitled The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects (New York: Norton, 2015), takes an artifact that belonged to the Brontës—hair jewelry, desk boxes, walking sticks, needlework, letters and more—as the focal point for each chapter. Using precise biographical facts relating to the objects and their place in the Brontës’ writing, this book investigates the cultural history they illuminate. What results is an account of women’s work in the home (including the labor of writing) and of close, collaborative relations between women.

Her second book, Pleasure Bound: Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism (Norton, 2011), dives into 1860s and ‘70s London and the political freethinking and gender play of two intertwined bohemian groups—the Cannibal Club headed by Sir Richard Francis Burton and the Aesthetic Pre-Raphaelites with D. G. Rossetti as leader. An interdisciplinary project, this book considers the collaborative work of poets, painters, designers, politicians, and scientists and their impact on the nascent feminist movement and the just-developing awareness of sexual identity rights. Her first book—The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-Century Seduction Narrative (Ohio State UP, 2006)—traces a literary history of characters whose eroticism comes from their dark past and rebellious exile from the comforts of everyday living.

Courses Taught

Prerequisite: ENGL 102 or 105; ENGL 300 or 310. Note: Approved for the Arts and Sciences upper-level requirement in written communication (WR). An intensive study in the works of one or a small grouping of authors. May be repeated once for credit. Historical period varies by semester-see schedule of courses.
Prerequisite: ENGL 102 or 105; junior standing. In-depth study of selected movements, genres, topics, or groupings of writers from the Victorian period. Historical Period: 1700-1900.
Involves discussion and analysis of advanced research topics leading to the dissertation.

Educational Background

    Ph.D., The Graduate Center, the City University of New York

      Research Interests

        Victorian literature and culture, gender and sexuality, material culture, death culture, pornography, and the history of the book.