Sophie Gee

Associate Professor
Office Phone
49 McCosh Hall
Office Hours

Fall 2023: On Leave
Spring 2024: On Leave


My research focuses on British and global Anglophone literature in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Broadly speaking I write about literary history from John Milton to Jane Austen. My most recent book is The Barbarous Feast: Writing and Eating in the Eighteenth-Century World, (Princeton UP, forthcoming). It’s an inter-disciplinary story about how people across the colonial world in Europe, the Caribbean, the Americas and Australia understood their own internal, private selves, and how they connected with the inner lives of others. Often this happened by writing and telling stories, often through religious rituals, and most often by eating together. 

My first monograph Making Waste: Leftovers and the Eighteenth-Century Imagination (Princeton University Press, 2009), is about the period’s obsession with things discarded: everything from Milton’s chaotic uncreated atoms to Defoe’s plague-ridden corpses, to Swift’s dead dogs and turnip tops. My novel, The Scandal of the Season, is a comedy of manners set in eighteenth-century London, and a retelling of Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock.”  The novel was named one of the Best Books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the Economist and was published in 13 countries. 

I’ve spoken at many literary festivals and events in the US, Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia and I give talks worldwide on combining scholarly writing on the history of the novel with creative reimagining of history.  Since 2007 I’ve reviewed and written regularly for The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, the Financial Times and the Sydney Morning Herald, among other places. I’m working on another historical novel recreating Daniel Defoe’s London, the British colonies in the early eighteenth-century, and the events that led Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe.

Recently I’ve been advocating for public humanities through public writing and talks about the broad impact that arts and humanities training have across all fields of knowledge and problem-solving.

I’m currently on leave from Princeton having been invited to be the inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Sydney. I’m working on a book for the general public about the deep value of uncertainty, intellectual discomfort and a life lived with books, tentatively titled Undisciplined.

I’m interested in the impact of meditation and mindfulness on conventional approaches to teaching and scholarship. In 2020 I founded a group at Princeton called Mindful Faculty. Our meetings explore ways to be mindful and scholarly at the same time. We explore the idea that radical uncertainty is a crucial position from which to teach and research in the humanities. At Sydney University I am collaborating with Dr. Remy Low on a Contemplative Leadership initiative.

I’m about to launch a podcast called The Secret Life of Books with Jonty Claypole MBE, former head of Arts at the BBC, and CEO of the Australian literary nonprofit Red Room Poetry.


Sydney University (Class I hons, 1995); Ph.D. Harvard 2002

Selected Publications

“Communion, Communication, Sacrifice: Miraculous Identification in Tom Jones” (work in progress).

“Special Occasions: Defoe, Sacrifice and the Occasional Conformity Crisis” (work in progress).

The Barbarous Feast: Eating and Writing in the Eighteenth-Century World, Princeton University Press, in contract and forthcoming.

“Fielding, War, and Empire,” in The Oxford Handbook of Henry Fielding, eds. Thomas Keymer and Henry PowerOxford University Press, forthcoming.

“Turning Pages, Changing Lives – How the Humanities Teach Us to Live in Uncertain Times.” Podcast – The Solutionists with Mark Scott 2.4: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Pocketcast). University of Sydney, May 1, 2024.

“True Accounts” in The Oxford Handbook of English Prose, 1640-1720, eds. Henry Power and Nicholas McDowell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024.

Op-eds in Sydney Morning Herald on education-related topics: Humanities study (May 2023); Parenting (July 2023); Learned Talents (November 2023)

“The Unlikely Making of Alexander Pope,” Review essay, Times Literary Supplement, 2021.

The Dunciad: Politics and Theology,” in The Oxford Handbook of Eighteenth-Century Satire, ed. Paddy Bullard. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

“Milton’s Pope” in Milton and the Long Restoration. Eds. Blair Hoxby and Ann Coiro, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp.242-62.

“It Narratives, Thing Theory, and “Trivial Things”: Sophie Gee’s The Scandal of the Season and The Rape of the Lock,” by Kate Scarth and Sophie Gee in Anniversary Essays on Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,”  Ed. Don Nichol, Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2015.

“ ‘Such Opinions Cannot Cohere’: Swift’s Inwardness.” In “The Essay: An Attempt, a Protean Form,” forum edited by Denise Gigante. Republics of Letters 4.1 (2014): 1-13.