William McKelvy

William McKelvy

​Associate Professor of English
PhD, University of Virginia
research interests:
  • Nineteenth-century British literature and culture

contact info:

mailing address:

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

Professor McKelvy studies and teaches British literature of the long nineteenth century with particular interests in the fields of Literature and Religion, the History of Reading, and Literature and the Arts.

William R. McKelvy's essays and reviews have appeared in English Literary History, Essays in Criticism, George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies, the Journal of British Studies, Nineteenth-Century Prose, Style, Victorian Institutes Journal, Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorian Poetry, and the Yearbook of English Studies. His award-winning, revisionary literary history The English Cult of Literature: devoted readers, 1774-1880 (2007) is widely recognized as an important contribution to an early stage of the current religious turn in nineteenth-century British cultural studies. Recent works in this scholarly field include “The Importance of Being Ezra: Canons and Conversions in The Moonstone” in ELH (2019) and the chapter “Empire, Race, and Nation” in The Cambridge Companion to Religion in Victorian Literary Culture (forthcoming, 2024). McKelvy is currently completing a monograph entitled Portraits of the Artist in the Age of Steam. Earlier publications drawn from that research include “Iconic Destiny and ‘The Lady of Shalott’: Living in a World of Images” and “The Woman in White and Graphic Sex” in Victorian Literature and Culture (2007).

Since 2013, McKelvy has been Associate Editor of the Victorian Literature and Culture Series published by the University of Virginia Press, and in 2020 he started serving as Associate Editor of the widely subscribed Oxford Bibliographies: Victorian Literature.


  • Graduate Student Senate Special Recognition for Mentoring Award, 2007
  • Faculty Research Grant, Washington University, 2002
  • Dissertation Fellowship, Department of English, University of Virginia, Fall 1996
  • McGregor Scholarship, Saint Deiniol's Library, Wales, 1996
  • Arnstein Prize for Dissertation Research in Victorian Studies, 1995
  • DuPont Fellowship, University of Virginia, 1993-95
  • Winner, Memphis Magazine Fiction Writing Awards, 1989


  • L14 151: Literature Seminar for Freshmen: The Detective Fiction from Poe to Doyle
  • L14 462: Topics in English Literature II: Best Sellers and Baggy Monsters: Victorian Serial Fiction
  • L14 2152: Literature in English: Modern Texts and Contexts
  • L14 325: Selected English & American Writers: Charlotte Bronte
  • L14 418: Victorian Literature & Postcolonial Studies
  • L14 519: Seminar: Work of Art in the Age of Steam
  • L14 376: The Victorian Period

From our podcast:

Hold That Thought Podcast

Magical Realism

What draws us to stories of the supernatural? And how do they relate to our real lives? Kelly Link explores the pleasure of surprising readers when using traditional story tropes, and discusses the archetypes of the genre. In the second half of the episode, William McKelvy explains the hallmarks and legacy of Gothic literature.