Peter J. Capuano's Profile Image
Professor of English, Director of Literary and Cultural Studies

Faculty Fellow, Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

Affiliated Faculty, Women’s and Gender Studies



Cover image of Dickens's Idiomatic Imagination by Peter J. Capuano; links to Cornell University Press page

Dickens’s Idiomatic Imagination: The Inimitable and Victorian Body Language
(Cornell University Press; paperback release December 2023.)

Available on Cornell University Press


Changing Hands: Industry, Evolution, and the Reconfiguration of the Victorian Body by Peter J. Capuano; links to University Michigan Press page

Changing Hands: Industry, Evolution, and the Reconfiguration of the Victorian Body
(University Michigan Press, 2015.)

Available on University Michigan Press' website and Amazon

Shortlisted for British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS) Book Prize.

Edited Books


Approaches to Teaching Dickens's Great Expectations. (Modern Language Association Publications. Forthcoming 2026.)

Victorian Hands: the Manual Turn in Nineteenth-Century Body Studies
Co-edited with Sue Zemka (Ohio State University Press, October 2020)

Available on Ohio State University Press' website and Amazon

Invited Talks

“Digital Methodologies and Evendentiary Sufficiency.” North American Victorian Studies Association. Boulder, CO Hub. 2024.

“The Inimitable’s Idiomatic Imagination: Shouldering the Wheel in Bleak House.” Dickens Society Special Session on “The Polyphonic Dickens.” Modern Language Association. Washington, D.C. 2022.

“Unsettling Digital Humanities Methodologies.” Roundtable featuring Alison Booth (Virginia), Jay Clayton (Vanderbilt), Natalie Houston (UMass-Lowell), Catherine DeRose (Yale), and Yohei Igarashi (Connecticut). North American Victorian Studies. Vancouver, BC 2021.

“Body Idioms, Digitality, and (Dis)Ability in Dombey and Son” Nineteenth-Century Area Workshop. University of Virginia. Charlottesville, VA. 2018

“Body Borders.” Keynote Speaker at the Midwestern Conference on Literature, Language, and Media. Northern Illinois University. DeKalb, IL. 2018

“Digital Humanities and Analogic Scholarship.” Department of English. University of Colorado. Boulder, CO. 2017

“Digital Dombey.” The Dickens Universe. University of California, Santa Cruz. 2016

“Corpus Extraction, Idiomatic Expression, and Bodies of Victorian Prose.” Digital Humanities Symposium. Iowa State University. Ames, IA. 2015

“Thackeray’s (In)Visible Manipulation in Vanity Fair.” Victorian Studies Association of Ontario. York University. Toronto, ON. 2011

Selected Publications

“Idiomatic Surrogacy and (Dis)Ability in Dombey and Son.” Dickens Quarterly 39:4 (2022); 462-487.

“From a Distance ‘you might mistake her for a man’: A Closer Reading of Gender and Character Action in Jane EyreThe Law and the Lady, and A Brilliant Woman.” Co-authored with Gabrielle Krilloff, Matthew Jockers, and Julius Fredrick. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. Oxford UP Journals 33:4 (December 2018): 821-844.

“The Body.” Oxford Bibliographies in Victorian Literature. Ed. Juliet John. Oxford University Press. (March 2018)

“Handling George Eliot's Fiction.” George Eliot and Twenty-First-Century Criticism. Ed. Jean Arnold and Lila Harper. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.

“Teaching Persuasion in Multiple Contexts.” Approaches to Teaching Persuasion. Ed. Marcia Folsom and John Wiltshire. New York: MLA Publications, forthcoming.

“Networked Manufacture in Charlotte Brontë’s Shirley.” Victorian Studies 55:2 (Winter 2013): 231-242.

“On Charles Bell’s 1833 Bridgewater Treatise The Hand.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History.

“Biography of William Makepeace Thackeray.” Critical Insights: Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, Ed. Sheldon Goldfarb: Hackensack: Salem Press/EBSCO, 2011. 16-21.

“Handling the Perceptual Politics of Identity in Great Expectations,” Dickens Quarterly 27: 3 (September 2010):185-208.

“At the Hands of Becky Sharp: (In)Visible Manipulation and Vanity Fair,” Victorians Institute Journal  38: 1 (2008): 167-191.

“An Objective Aural-Relative in Middlemarch,” SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 47: 4 (Autumn 2007): 921-941.

“Truth in Timbre: Morrison's Extension of Slave Narrative Song in Beloved,”  African American Review 37:1 (Spring 2003): 95-103.  Reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism (Gale) 194: 1 (2005): 237-242.

Recent Papers

“Working & Reworking: Exploring Dickens’s Compositional Practice.” Panel with Anna Gibson, Adam Grener, and Michaela Mahlberg. North American Victorian Studies Association. Bloomington, IN. 2023.

“Body Language and Dickensian Humanism.” Modern Language Association. Seattle 2020.

“Digital Methods and the Bodily Vernacular.” Victorian Data Conference. University of Virginia. Charlottesville 2019.

Bleak House, ‘The Bleak House Advertiser,’ and Individuality in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association. San Francisco 2018.

“George Eliot's Italian Sociability.” North American Victorian Studies Association/ Australian Victorian Studies Association. Florence, Italy 2017.

“Italian Radicalism in George Eliot's Felix Holt.” North American Victorian Studies Association. Phoenix 2016.

“Digital Dombey.” The Dickens Universe. Santa Cruz 2016.

“The Manual Turn in Victorian Studies.” Panel Organiser with Pamela K. Gilbert and Sue Zemka
North American Victorian Studies Association.  Honolulu 2015.

“Computational Contexts and Dickensian Depths.” MLA. Vancouver 2015.

“Hands and the History of Nineteenth-Century Embodiment.” Nineteenth-Century Studies Association.  Boston 2015.

“Classifying Dickensian Classes by Hand” North American Victorian Studies Association. London, ON 2014.

“Novel Handwriting.”  North American Victorian Studies Association. Pasadena 2013.

“Surface Reading by Hand: The Manual Turn in Nineteenth-Century British Literature.” Special Session. MLA. Boston 2013.

“Networked Manufacture in Shirley.”  North American Victorian Studies Association. Madison 2012.

“Puppetry and Play in Vanity Fair.” North American Victorian Studies Association. Nashville 2011.

“Prophetic Vision in Daniel Deronda.” Victorian Futures Conference. The Dickens Universe. Santa Cruz 2011.

Wuthering Heights and 21st-Century Undergraduates.” The Brontë Festival. Joslyn Castle and Joslyn Art Museum Trust. Omaha 2011.

“(In)Visible Manipulation in Vanity Fair.” Invited speaker to the annual meeting of the Victorian Studies Association of Ontario: Victorian Variations on Hands, Handling, and Underhanded Behaviour. Toronto 2011.

“Sacred Kinship: The Hand and Banner in George Eliot,” Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association.  Austin 2010.

“Handling Animality in Dickens,”  The Dickens Symposium.  Providence 2009. 

“Embodiment in George Eliot's Realist Aesthetic,” NeMLA.  Boston 2009.

“Judaism, Kabbalah, and the Tensility of Sympathy in Daniel Deronda,”  International Conference on Narrative.  Austin 2008.

“The Material Thackeray” (Panel Co-organizer) North American Victorian Studies Association 2007.

Awards and Honors


Editorial Board Member, Dickens Quarterly (Johns Hopkins UP)

Advisory Board Member, Reading Like a Victorian (DH at Ohio State University)

Digital Textual Studies Seminar/Grant. National Humanities Center. 2015-16

College of Arts and Sciences ENHANCE Research Grant, University of Nebraska 2014

NINES Fellowship to Digital Humanities Summer Institute 2011

Edgar F. Shannon Post-Doctoral Fellowship, University of Virginia 2009-2010

Thomas Griffis Prize for Literary Criticism, University of Virginia 2009

Presidential Doctoral Fellowship, University of Virginia 2001-2006

Wylie and Lucy Sypher Scholarship, Bread Loaf School of English 2000


College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award 2015 (University of Nebraska)

Dr. Frank Finger All-University Award for Teaching, University of Virginia 2006

Seven Society Honoree for Classroom Excellence, University of Virginia 2005

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award, University of Virginia 2005-2006


Modern Language Association

North American Victorian Studies Association

Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Association

NINES (Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship)

Digital Humanities Summer Institute (University of Victoria)

The Dickens Project and Universe

Peer Review Service

Victorian Literature and Culture

Dickens Quarterly

Nineteenth-Century Contexts

Manuscript Reviewer for Routledge

Victorians Institute Journal



Ph.D., University of Virginia

B.A., Holy Cross

Areas of Interest

Victorian Literature and Culture

Dickens Studies (Dickens Project Faculty)

Science and Literature

History and Theory of the Novel

Body Studies

Digital Humanities