Albert Pionke joined the faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor. He was awarded tenure and the rank of associate professor in 2009, and was promoted to professor in 2014. In fall 2016, he began a three-year appointment as a College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Board Faculty Fellow.
A Victorian specialist, Pionke is particularly interested in theories, practices, and textualities of secrecy; in rhetorical and material strategies of social stratification; and in Victorian representations of the East and West Indies. His book on the first topic, Plots of Opportunity, shows the ways in which members of underenfranchised constituencies-trade unionists, Roman Catholics, Indian subjects-were often publicly represented as conspirators whenever they sought to better their collective status. His book on the second topic, The Ritual Culture of Victorian Professionals, reconstructs the central role of collective ritual in the competition for professional status by groups ranging from Oxbridge educators to barristers to Members of Parliament to novelists. He recently completed three essays on the third topic, including work on Rudyard Kipling's "The Man Who Would Be King," the uniquely Victorian vision of Cuba that appears in nineteenth-century British periodicals, and the visual record in Punch and elsewhere of the failed Lopez expedition to "liberate" Cuba from Spanish colonial control in 1850.
Working collaboratively with the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Pionke is currently engaged in a project to digitize and make fully searchable all marginalia in Somerville College's John Stuart Mill Library. Click here to link to the home page of Mill Marginalia Online, and begin your own search through the marks and annotations with which James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and others recorded their own experiences as readers.
Pionke was the host of the 2007 Victorian Institute conference and the 2015 UA Symposium on English and American Literature.