Humanities and Arts

Contact Information

Salisbury Laboratories, 24
Phone: +1-508-831-5572
Fax: +1-508-831-5932

Joel J. Brattin

Born in Michigan in 1956, I graduated from the University of Michigan in 1978, earning my PhD at Stanford University in 1985. I have enjoyed teaching British literature at WPI since 1990. I like the intelligence and good work ethic of WPI students; I especially enjoy the opportunity to meet and interact with students in small groups and on an individual basis.

The bulk of my scholarly work falls into three principal areas. I work on the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870), on textual scholarship (especially textual editing and manuscript work), and on the American guitarist and composer Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970).

I have been studying (and enjoying) Charles Dickens's life and fiction for 30 years; Dickens was the subject of my PhD dissertation at Stanford University and of my first book as well. I have published a range of articles and reviews treating Dickens in such journals as The Dickensian, Dickens Quarterly, and Dickens Studies Annual, and have contributed articles to the Oxford Companion to Dickens. I have served as trustee, secretary/treasurer, vice president, and president of the Dickens Society.

My textual scholarship has primarily focused in two areas: textual editing and manuscript analysis. I have established the text of Dickens's last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend, and helped to establish the text of key works by the most influential 19th-century writer of nonfiction prose, Thomas Carlyle, for the California Carlyle edition. I have worked with the literary manuscripts of many important writers, especially Dickens; close analysis of the complex tangle of interlineations and deletions in his manuscripts reveals a great deal about his artistic intentions and achievements.

Research Interests

  • 19th-century British literature, especially Dickens
  • Manuscripts, textual studies, and textual editing
  • The life and music of guitarist Jimi Hendrix


  • AB, University of Michigan, 1978
  • PhD, Stanford University, 1985

Featured Publications

  • Brattin, Joel J. “Sydney Carton’s Other Doubles.” Appears in Dickens in the New Millennium, the special Dickens Issue of Cahiers Victoriens et Edourdiens (February 2012), pp. 209-23.
  • Brattin, Joel J. "Dick Swiveller's Bed." Dickens Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 3 (September 2009), pp. 165-74. ISSB 0742-5473.
  • Past and Present. Volume 4 of the Norman and Charlotte Strouse Edition of The Writings of Thomas Carlyle. Berkeley, Los Angeles and Oxford: University of California Press, 2005. ciii + 843 pp. ISBN 978-0-520-24250-0. With Chris Vanden Bossche and D.J. Trela, I established the text for this critical edition of Thomas Carlyle's work.
  • Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. Modern Library Classics edition. New York: Random House, 2002. ISBN 0-375- 75914-X. I contributed explanatory annotations to this paperback edition.
  • Illustrating Dickens: Selected Works from the Robert D. Fellman Collection. Worcester: WPI, 2002. With Rodney G. Obien, I edited this volume, and contributed the concluding essay "Fellman, Dickens, and Illustration."

View a Complete List (.pdf, 115kb)

Professional Highlights

  • I was invited to deliver the graveside oration in Westminster Abbey in 2010, commemorating the 140th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens. I was honored to serve as president of the Dickens Society in 2000, and I was awarded the Trustees Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship in 2008.
  • I am also proud to have advised students who have won WPI’s top awards for all three required projects (MQP, IQP, and Humanities and Arts).
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