Robert Milder

Robert Milder

​Professor of English
PhD, Harvard University
research interests:
  • 19th-century American literature (especially American Renaissance)
  • 20th-century American literature
  • Virginia Woolf

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1122
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Milder has published widely on mid-19th century American writers. His primary teaching interests are the American Renaissance and the literature of New England, but he also offers courses in Anglo-American Romanticism, 20th century American literature, and Virginia Woolf and Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group.

Professor Milder has published widely on mid-19th Century American writers. He is the author of Reimagining Thoreau (1995), Exiled Royalties: Melville and the Life We Imagine (2006), and Hawthorne’s Habitations: A Literary Life (2013), and co-editor, with Randall Fuller, of The Business of Reflection: Hawthorne in His Notebooks (2009). Essays and chapters of his have appeared in The New England QuarterlyAmerican Literary HistoryArizona Quarterly, Studies in the Novel, ESQThe Cambridge Companion to American NovelistsThe Cambridge Companion to MelvilleThe Cambridge Companion to Emerson, and The Oxford Historical Guide to Herman Melville. Recent writings include published essays on John Updike, Philip Roth, and Alice Munro and two books-in-progress, Emerson and the Fortunes of Godless Religion and “Real Life”: John Updike and Alice Munro. Primary teaching interests are 19th century American literature, autobiography, and autobiographical fiction.  


  • L14 312W The Literature of Memory 
  • L14 3524 Self, Sex, and Society in 19th Century American Literature
  • L14 356 Art of the Novel
  • L14 426 The American Renaissance: Emerson through Emily Dickinson
  • L14 462 Becoming Modern: Virginia Woolf and Her Circle
  • L14 483 Selected American Writers: Melville
  • L14 5231 Seminar in American Lit: Transcendentalism
Hawthorne’s Habitations: A Literary Life

Hawthorne’s Habitations: A Literary Life

The first literary/biographical study of Hawthorne's full career in almost forty years, Hawthorne's Habitations presents a self-divided man and writer strongly attracted to reality for its own sake and remarkably adept at rendering it yet fearful of the nothingness he intuited at its heart.

Making extensive use of Hawthorne's notebooks and letters as well as nearly all of his important fiction, Robert Milder's superb intellectual biography distinguishes between "two Hawthornes," then maps them onto the physical and cultural locales that were formative for Hawthorne's character and work: Salem, Massachusetts, Hawthorne's ancestral home and ingrained point of reference; Concord, Massachusetts, where came into contact with Emerson, Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller and absorbed the Adamic spirit of the American Renaissance; England, where he served for five years as consul in Liverpool, incorporating an element of Englishness; and Italy, where he found himself, like Henry James's expatriate Americans, confronted by an older, denser civilization morally and culturally at variance with his own.