Welcome to my website

About the site:

This site is home to my blog, Novel Readings, which I have been writing regularly since 2007. You can browse the index of my posts on books, on academia, on criticism, or on teaching, or use the search box or the Categories menu to find posts on topics or texts of interest to you.

This site also includes information about my academic research and current teaching, a list of my book reviews and essays, and tips for students who need letters of reference.

About me:

Originally from beautiful Vancouver B.C., I have an Honours B.A. in English and History from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. and Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from Cornell University. Since 1995, I have been a member of the English Department at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My husband Steve is a philosopher specializing in analytic epistemology and philosophy of religion. Our amazing and talented daughter is completing a degree in vocal performance at Dalhousie’s Fountain School of the Performing Arts. Our son was an exceptionally gifted pianist and composer as well as a brilliant chess player and computer programmer; we miss him every day.

penguinmiddlemarchAt Dalhousie, my main teaching area is the Victorian novel; I have a particular admiration for George Eliot and assign her greatest novel, Middlemarch, whenever possible. I’m always hoping to encourage more people to read it—in that spirit, I set up the website Middlemarch for Book Clubs a few years ago. (I have also turned the website’s materials into a free ebook, available at both Amazon and Kobo.) Widening the Skirts of Light, a collection of my essays on George Eliot’s fiction, is also available at Amazon and Kobo—or contact me directly for a free copy.

I also regularly offer courses in detective fiction; my other teaching and research interests include ethical criticism, intersections between literature and moral philosophy, historical fiction and historiography, and the role of literature and criticism in contemporary life. One of my more recent academic projects is an anthology of Victorian critical writing on the novel for Broadview Press.  Click here to see my full academic curriculum vitae (updated June 2022).

From March 2008 to August 2010 I contributed regularly to the academic group blog The Valve. From 2010 to 2017 I was an editor and regular contributor at the online literary journal Open Letters Monthly, now archived only; I have also published many reviews and essays in other venues including the Times Literary SupplementQuill & QuireCanadian Notes and Queries, and The Quarterly Conversation. They are listed here, with links where available.

You can find me on Twitter at @RohanMaitzen.


There’s really only one, but it comes up a lot: was my first name chosen from Tolkien? No, it was not. It’s French (though I’ve learned, over the years, that it’s also Gaelic and Sanskrit). It’s pronounced “Rowan.” The name came to me by way of a good family friend who was distantly related to the Cardinal de Rohan. I’m not related to him myself. However, according to a letter my great-aunt sent me years ago, I am related to Elizabeth Barrett Browning—so if things had gone a little differently I might have been named ‘Aurora’ instead. I’m not sure if that would have meant more or fewer conversations!

Updated August 2022