Sarah Gracombe is a Professor of English. Previously, she served as the Director of the Moreau Honors Program and before that the Director of the IDEAS (Integrating Democratic Education at Stonehill) Program. Her teaching and research interests include Victorian representations of national identity, race, gender, psychology, and religion, particularly constructions of Jewishness. 

This research has been supported by organizations including the University of Pennsylvania's Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, the Whiting Foundation, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her work has appeared in journals such as  Nineteenth-Century LiteraturePhilological Quarterly, Romantic CirclesProoftextsVictorian Periodical Review and the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, as well as the collections George Du Maurier: Illustrator, Author, Critic (Ashgate 2016) and Bastards and Believers: Jewish Converts and Conversion from the Bible to the Present (University of Pennsylvania Press 2020). Her current project is Reimagining Ruth: the Book of Ruth in English and American Culture, 1800-1940.


  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 2005
  • B.A., Brown University, 1995


  • Director, Moreau Honors Program (2021-2023)
  • Director, IDEAS Program (2015-2020)
  • Faculty Advisor to Stonehill’s English Society and founder of the annual Undergraduate Literature Conference with Bridgewater State University and University of Massachusetts Boston (2005-2015)
  • Fellow, the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2010-11)
  • Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Grant (2004)
  • Whiting Foundation Dissertation Fellowship (2004)
  • SURE grants for summer research collaborations with students (2009, 2013, 2016) 

Courses Taught

  • Fictions of Englishness
  • Crimes and Misdemeanors in Victorian Literature and Culture 
  • The British Novel and Psychology, 1800-1920
  • “Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage”: The Woman Question in British Literature, 1800-1930
  • Jane Austen, 1775-2012
  • “What Ghosts Can Say”: Tales of Invisible Men and Women
  • Americans Abroad
  • Fiction: Narrating Self and Society
  • Honors Senior Seminar
  • Democratic Education (IDEAS seminar)
  • Fictions of Jewishness and Englishness 

Selected Publications, Articles, Essays, Talks & Presentations

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles and Essays

  • "'Sick for Home': the Figure of Ruth in the Romantic Imagination." The Sundry Faces of Nineteenth-Century Anglo-Jewish Literature, Ed. Karen Weisman (Romantic Circles, 2020).
  • “‘Precious Books’: Conversion, Nationality, and the Novel, 1810-2010,” Bastards and Believers: Converts and Conversion in Judaism from the Bible to the Present, Eds. Theodore Dunkelgrün and Pawel Maciejko (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020) 
  • “Du Maurier and the ‘Oriental Israelite Hebrew Jew[s]’,” George du Maurier:  Illustrator, Critic, Author, Eds. Simon Cooke and Paul Goldman (Farnham, UK: Ashgate Press, 2016) 
  • “Jews and Victorian Literature,” Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, Eds. Dino Felluga, Pamela K. Gilbert, and Linda K. Hughes, Aug. 2015 
  • “Picturing Jewish Returns in Victorian Culture,” Philological Quarterly, Special Edition on Images of British Jews, ed. Kathryn Lavezzo, 92: 1 (Winter 2013), 67-88 
  • “Imperial Englishness in Julia Frankau’s ‘Book of the Jew,’” Prooftexts, 30: 2 (Spring 2010)  
  • “Beyond Deronda?: Victorian Studies and Jewish Chronicles.” Literature Compass 5 (Nov. 2008): 10.1111/j.1741-4113.2008.00586.x 
  • “Converting Trilby: Du Maurier on Englishness, Jewishness, and Culture.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 58:1 (June 2003): 75-108 

Book Reviews and On-line Publications 

  • Review of Jonathan Hess, Deborah and Her Sisters: How One Nineteenth-Century Melodrama and a Host of Celebrated Actresses Put Judaism on the World Stage. European History Quarterly 50: 4 (Fall 2020), 728-730 
  • “Reflections on Ruth in Grace Aguilar’s The Women of Israel, 1887,” An Online Exhibition from the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies 2010-2011 Fellows at the University of      Pennsylvania, Fall 2011 
  • Review of Meri-Jane Rochelson, A Jew in the Public Arena: The Career of Israel Zangwill and Eitan Bar-Yosef and Nadia Valman, Eds.,‘The Jew’ in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Culture.         Victorian Periodicals Review 45: 3 (Fall 2012), 363-67 
  • Review of Anthony Julius, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England. Shofar 30:1 (Fall 2011),184-7 


Selected Conference Presentations and Invited Talks 

  • “Pledging Allegiance: Ruth, Immigration, and Intermarriage in America,” American Jewish Studies conference, San Diego, CA, Dec. 16th, 2019 
  • “Ruth ‘amid the alien corn’: Jewish Conversion, Assimilation, and Alienation in Romantic Literature and its Adaptations,” American Jewish Studies conference, Washington DC, Dec. 17th, 2017 
  • Chair and Respondent, “Communicating across Boundaries: Jewish Writers in the Long Nineteenth Century,” American Jewish Studies conference, Boston, MA, Dec. 14th, 2015 
  • “Returning to the Fold: Classifying Jewishness in Victorian Fiction,” North American Victorian Studies Association conference, London, Canada, Nov. 13th, 2014 
  • Invited public talk, “Novel Converts: Plotting Jewish Conversion in British Literature, 1800-2010” and invited class lecture, Program on Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University, April 2nd, 2014 
  • “‘Now You Want to be a Jew’: The Finkler Question’s Conversions,” American Jewish Studies Conference, Boston, MA, Dec. 16th, 2013    
  • “The Continuing Appeal of Jane Austen, 1775-2013,” Sharon Adult Center, June 18th, 2013 
  • Roundtable Participant, “New Directions in Nineteenth-Century Anglo-Jewish Studies,” American Jewish Studies conference, Chicago, IL, Dec. 17th, 2012 
  • “Engrafted Englishness: Rewriting Ruth in the Nineteenth Century,” North American Victorian Studies Association, Madison, WI, Sept. 30th, 2012 
  • “Introducing Israel Zangwill,” Jewish Writers You Wish You Knew About Symposium, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, Feb. 9th, 2012 
  • “Picturing Jewish Returns in Victorian Culture,” American Jewish Studies conference, Washington D.C., Dec.19th, 2011 
  • “‘Engrafted’ or ‘Alien’?: English Representations of Ruth from 1830 to 1930,” Taking Turns: New Perspectives on Jews and Conversion, The 17th Annual Gruss Colloquium in Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, May 2nd-3rd, 2011  
  • “Novel Converts: Plotting Conversion in Victorian Literature,” Ruth Meltzer Seminar Series, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, March 23rd, 2011 
  • “Fighting for Englishness: Anglo-Jewish Bodies and the Body Politic,” Northeast Victorian Studies Association Conference, Princeton University, Princeton, April 14th-16th, 2010 
  • “Jewishness, Empire, and the ‘English Fairytale,’” Transcultural Jewishness panel, American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Harvard University  Cambridge, March 27th-29th, 2009 
  • Co-Chair and Moderator, “The Art and Culture of Male Friendship” Panel, NAVSA  Conference, Yale University, New Haven, November 14-16th, 2008 
  • Invited Talk, “Victorian Jews for Jesus: Englishness and the Conversion Plot,” Harvard Humanities Center, Victorian Seminar, Oct. 4th, 2007 
  • “Consuming Cosmopolitanism in George Du Maurier’s Trilby,” Northeast Victorian Studies Conference, Harvard University, Cambridge, March 30th, 2007 
  • “Cultural Englishness: National Belonging in Trollope and Beyond.”  NAVSA (“Victorian Frontiers”), University of Toronto, Toronto, Oct. 29th, 2004 
  • “‘A Discarded Garment’?: Jewishness, Englishness, and Conversion in Julia Frankau’s   Novels.” 20th-Century Jewish Women Writers Conference, Brunel University, London, July 12th, 2002 
  • “‘Pitiful Vision’: Remembering and Forgetting in Dubliners.”  Millennial Joyce: The North American James Joyce Conference, Charleston, South Carolina, June 17th,1999.