Robert Edward Mitchell

Robert Edward Mitchell

Professor of English

External address: 
302A Allen, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
90015, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 668-2547
Office Hours: 
Virtual office hours available by appointment, email


Robert Mitchell's research focuses on relationships between literature and the sciences in the Romantic era, as well as contemporary intersections among information technologies, genetics, and commerce, especially as these have been played out in the legal, literary, and artistic spheres. His most recent work has focused on the theory and practices of experimentation in both the arts and sciences, the history of vitalism, and the relationship between aesthetics and biological concepts of population. He has published three single-author monographs: Sympathy and the State in the Romantic Era: Systems, State Finance, and the Shadows of Futurity (Routledge, 2007), Bioart and the Vitality of Media (University of Washington Press, 2010), and Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature (Johns Hopkins UP, 2013). He is also co-author of the monograph Tissue Economies: Blood, Organs and Cell Lines in Late Capitalism (Duke UP, 2006) and the DVD-ROM Biofutures: Owning Body Parts and Information (U of Pennsylvania P, 2008). Mitchell is co-editor of several collections of essays, including Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information(Routledge, 2003), Romanticism and Modernity (Routledge, 2011), and Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media (Stanford UP, 2011), and co-editor of the book series "In Vivo: The Cultural Mediations of Biomedical Science" (University of Washington Press). He has also published many articles in humanities, social science, and natural science journals, including Science, The American Journal of Bioethics, Biosocieties, Studies in Romanticism,and PMLA. His current research focuses on relationships among biopolitics, the logic of populations, and the arts.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Washington 2001

  • M.A., University of California - Irvine 1995

  • B.A., University of Washington 1994

Selected Grants

Experimental Life: Vitalism in Romantic Science and Literature awarded by National Humanities Center (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2013

From Specimen to Biobank: Using an Organizational Perspective to Study ELSI Issue awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2012

Saywer Seminar - Phenomenology Between Mind and Media awarded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2010 to 2012

Biofutures: Owning Body Parts and Information awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2007

Mitchell, R., and J. Khalip, editors. Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media. Stanford University Press, 2011.

Pfau, T., and R. Mitchell, editors. Romanticism and Modernity. Routledge, 2011.

Mitchell, R. Bioart and the Vitality of Media. University of Washington Press, 2010.

Waldby, C., and R. Mitchell. Tissue Economies: Blood, Organs, and Cell Lines in Late Capitalism. Duke University Press, 2006.

Mitchell, R., and P. Thurtle, editors. Semiotic Flesh: Information and the Human Body. University of Washington Press, 2001.

Mitchell, R. “Population aesthetics in romantic and post-romantic literature.” Constellations of a Contemporary Romanticism, 2016, pp. 267–89.

Mitchell, R. E. “Global Flows: Romantic-era Terraforming.” British Romanticism and Early Globalization: Developing the Modern World Picture, Edited by Evan Gottlieb, Bucknell University Press, 2014, pp. 199–218.

Mitchell, R. “Bioart: Media, Evolution, Culture.” Evolution Haute Couture: Art and Science in the Post-Biological Age, edited by Dmitry Bulatov, vol. 2, BB NCAA, 2013.

Mitchell, R. “Bioart e biotechnologie dal punto di vista filosofico di Simondon.” Il Divenire Della Conoscenza: Estetica e Contingenza Del Reale, edited by Anna Long and Roberto Masiero, Mimesis Edizioni, 2013.

Mitchell, R. E., and C. Waldby. “National Biobanks: Clinical Labour, Risk Production, and the Creation of Biovalue (reprint).” BioethicsTM, edited by J. Zylinska, 2013.

Mitchell, R. “Sell: Body wastes, information, and commodification.” Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information, 2011, pp. 121–36. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9780203873274. Full Text

Mitchell, R., and J. Khalip. “Release—(Non)Origination—Concepts.” Releasing the Image: From Literature to New Media, Stanford University Press, 2011, pp. 1–24.

Mitchell, R. “Cryptogamia.” Romanticism and Modernity, Routledge, 2011, pp. 199–219.

Mitchell, R., and R. Broglio. “Introduction: Romanticism and the New Deleuze.” Romantic Circles Praxis Series: Romanticism and the New Deleuze, edited by R. Broglio, 2007.

Mitchell, R. “Beautiful and Orderly Systems: Adam Smith on the Aesthetics of Political Improvement.” New Voices on Adam Smith, edited by Eric Schliesser and Leonidas Montes, Routledge, 2005.


Mitchell, R., and P. Thurtle, editors. In Vivo: The Cultural Mediations of Biomedical Science. University of Washington Press, 2003.

Mitchell, R. “Enlightenment biopolitics: Population and the growth of genius.” Eighteenth Century, vol. 59, no. 4, Dec. 2018, pp. 405–27. Scopus, doi:10.1353/ecy.2018.0026. Full Text

Mitchell, R. “Regulating Life: Romanticism, Science, and the Liberal Imagination*.” European Romantic Review, vol. 29, no. 3, May 2018, pp. 275–93. Scopus, doi:10.1080/10509585.2018.1465718. Full Text

Halpern, O., et al. “The smartness mandate: Notes toward a critique.” Grey Room, no. 68, Sept. 2017, pp. 106–29. Scopus, doi:10.1162/GREY_a_00221. Full Text

Mitchell, R. “Response.” Genre, vol. 50, no. 1, Apr. 2017, pp. 139–52. Scopus, doi:10.1215/00166928-3761396. Full Text

Mitchell, R. “Biopolitics and population aesthetics.” South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 115, no. 2, Apr. 2016, pp. 367–98. Scopus, doi:10.1215/00382876-3488464. Full Text

Mitchell, R. E. “Response to George Teyssott, Key Points: Between Figure and Ground.” Forty Five: A Journal of Outside Research, 2016.

Mitchell, R. “Romanticism and the experience of experiment.” Wordsworth Circle, vol. 46, no. 3, June 2015, pp. 132–42. Scopus, doi:10.1086/twc24888029. Full Text

Mitchell, Robert. “Access, entanglement, and prosociality.The American Journal of Bioethics : Ajob, vol. 13, no. 6, Jan. 2013, pp. 49–51. Epmc, doi:10.1080/15265161.2013.781868. Full Text

Mitchell, R. “US biobanking strategies and biomedical immaterial labor.” Biosocieties, vol. 7, no. 3, Sept. 2012, pp. 224–44. Scopus, doi:10.1057/biosoc.2012.9. Full Text

Conley, John M., et al. “A trade secret model for genomic biobanking.The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics : A Journal of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, vol. 40, no. 3, Jan. 2012, pp. 612–29. Epmc, doi:10.1111/j.1748-720x.2012.00694.x. Full Text


Mitchell, R., et al. Biofutures: Owning Body Parts and Information (DVD-ROM). University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.