Peter W Sinnema, PhD, MA, BA

Professor, Faculty of Arts - English & Film Studies Dept


Professor, Faculty of Arts - English & Film Studies Dept



I am a Victorianist by training and inclination, having taught numerous courses at various levels of the curriculum in nineteenth-century British literature both here at the University of Alberta and at York University. Recently my research has turned toward utopian and dystopian literature, particularly works published in late nineteenth-century America. I joined what was then the Department of English at the U of A in 1999. I have served as EFS Chair (2014-19) and Associate Chair, Academic (2007-10). 


Some recent/major publications include:

"Archibald Marshall's 'Motley Mixture of Crying Contradictions': Upsidonia as Utopian Farce." Utopian Studies 34.3 (2023): 418-435.

"Gender Trouble in the Hollow Earth: Pantaletta, Mizora, and the American Antifeminist Romance." ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture 69.2 (2023): 201-234.

"'We have Adventured to Make the Earth Hollow': Edmond Halley's Extravagant Hypothesis." Perspectives on Science. 22.4 (2014): 423-448.

“10 April 1818: John Cleves Symmes’s ‘No. 1 Circular.’” BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. (13 June 2012). 

[As editor, with introduction, notes, chronology, and appendices]. The Coming Race [1871]. By Edward Bulwer Lytton. Peterborough: Broadview 2008. 

The Wake of Wellington: Englishness in 1852. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006. 

[As editor, with introduction, notes, chronology, and indexed glossary]. Self-Help: With Illustrations of Conduct and Perseverance [1859]. By Samuel Smiles. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 2002. Korean edition by Oxford University Press/Eric Lang Agency, Seoul, 2003. 

Dynamics of the Pictured Page: Representing the Nation in the Illustrated London News. Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998.

“Victorian Interdisciplinarity and the Myth of Capaciousness.” Victorian Review (Special Forum on “Victorian Studies and Interdisciplinarity” 33.1 (2007): 59-61. 

“Wyatt’s Wellington and the Hyde Park Corner Controversy.” Oxford Art Journal. 27.2 (2004): 219-238. 

I am presently working on a monograph project with the tentative title of “Cosmic Egg: The Literary Afterlife of Hollow Earth Theory in England and America.” The project investigates the origins of hollow earth theory in 1690s London and its rich afterlife in speculative, utopian, and SF literature up to the early twentieth century.


My graduate courses have focused on such topics as Victorian death and representation, class and the Victorians, Victorian conceptions of the self, ideological criticism and theories of literary production, and SF/fantasy literature. My undergraduate teaching has included courses across the English curriculum: introductory first-year literary surveys, early- and late-Victorian literature and culture, the nineteenth-century novel, Victorian poetry, class and ideology, pre-twentieth-century transnational literature, readings in prose, etc. I am happy to supervise graduate students interested in Victorian literature and culture, and welcome a broad range of critical approaches. I have supervised or am currently supervising doctoral theses on topics such as child abuse and child-protection advocacy, patriotic poetry and the politics of the laureateship, Egyptian antiquities in gothic fiction, mother-want and melancholy in the Victorian novel, and middlebrow culture and materialism in fin-de-siècle writing. 


ENGL 352 - Nineteenth-Century British Literature

Selected works from 1830 to 1900. Prerequisite: 6 units of junior ENGL, or 3 units of junior ENGL and 3 units of junior WRS.

ENGL 409 - Studies in Literary Periods and Cultural Movements

Prerequisites: 12 units of senior ENGL with a minimum of 6 units at the 300 level. Note: variable content course which may be repeated.

Browse more courses taught by Peter W Sinnema