Lee Clark Mitchell

Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres
Office Phone
1 McCosh Hall
Office Hours

Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00am - 10:50am, and by appointment


Ph.D. University of Washington. Lee Clark Mitchell is Holmes Professor of Belles-Lettres at Princeton University, where he has served as Chair of the English Department and Director of the Program in American Studies. His scholarly interests lie in canonical American literature and popular culture, very much including classical Hollywood cinema. The first is represented by his courses from the American Renaissance through the modern American novel, and in books ranging from Witnesses to a Vanishing America: The Nineteenth-Century Response (Princeton 1981) and Determined Fictions: American Literary Naturalism (Columbia 1989) to Mere Reading: The Poetics of Wonder in Modern American Novels (Bloomsbury 2017). The second comes to the fore in courses on native American oral traditions, classic Hollywood genres (including screwball and noir), and Western fiction and film, with books that range from The Photograph and the American Indian (Princeton 1994) and Westerns:  Making the Man in Fiction and Film (Chicago 1996) to Late Westerns: The Persistence of a Genre (Nebraska 2018). His interests are also represented by courses on Henry James and William Faulkner, on aesthetics and ethics in reading, and on the short story. Indeed, his most recent book is More Time: Contemporary Short Stories and Late Styles (Oxford, April 2019).

His essays range across a broad swath of writers (Crane, Dreiser, James, Cormac McCarthy, Robinson, Twain, among canonical names, and Lee Child, Zane Grey, Dennis Lehane, John Williams, Owen Wister, among those more rough-hewn)—essays that have appeared in Critical Inquiry, PMLA, Novel, and Raritan. And he has edited standard teaching editions of novels by Crane, Dreiser, James and Twain. The range of his recent interests is represented by two books: Mark My Words: Profiles of Punctuation in Modern Literature (Bloomsbury, May 2020) and Noir Fiction and Film: Diversions and Misdirections (Oxford, November 2021).

A Fulbright Senior Professor at the Freie Universität Berlin (1990-91) and the Humboldt Universität Berlin (1994-95), he has also been a Fellow at the National Humanities Center, the Huntington Library, and the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin. As well, he has won NEH and ACLS fellowships, and has directed a NEH Summer Seminar.

Teaching and Research Interests