Robyn Warhol, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English, has earned The Ohio State University 2024 Distinguished Scholar Award. Senior leadership in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge recently surprised Warhol with the honor during a virtual department meeting.     

“I'm completely overwhelmed by this honor,” said Warhol. “The best thing that ever happened to me in my whole career was coming here in 2009. It’s so incredible to be in a department that has such a rich and varied research life. This has been a fantastic place of support for me and my work. I'm just so grateful for the time that I've been able to spend here with you.”


As a feminist narratologist, Warhol studies the interrelations between gender and narrative forms. Warhol’s research has ranged widely across topics that combine her chief interests: Victorian literature, narrative theory, and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She is especially known for her pioneering work on the relation of gender to narrative forms in the nineteenth-century novel.

“Dr. Warhol is an original researcher who has advanced feminist and narrative theory, producing works that are considered standard reading in each field,” said Cynthia Carnes, senior vice president for research operations in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge. “She has proved herself to be a thought leader, through many national and international accolades and collaborations.”

“Robin, all the external reviewers commented on the intersection of your scholarly work with various kinds of service,” said David Horn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “So in addition to congratulating you, I want to thank you for all the ways you've contributed to our collective work over the years, and for the scholarly instincts you bring that work.  It elevates all that we do across the college.”

“Whether it's a brown bag or a formal lecture, you support the research of your colleagues by showing up and thinking carefully about what's being shared and offering great questions,” said Susan S. Williams, chair of the Department of English. “I really appreciate that aspect of how you support the research mission. I know it feeds you and it feeds us as well, so thank you.”

Warhol is known among feminist scholars as the co-editor of Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism and its successor, Feminisms Redux. She also wrote Having a Good Cry: Effeminate Feelings and Popular Forms and Gendered Interventions: Narrative Discourse in the Victorian Novel. Her online database, Reading Like a Victorian, displays Victorian serial novels along a timeline allowing readers to experience nineteenth-century literary works in serial form as they were read when originally published. In 2022, Professor Warhol received the Wayne C. Booth Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for the Study of Narrative. She has been a Senior Fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Study, an Einstein Fellow at the Free University of Berlin’s Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, a Mellon Fellow at Harvard University, and a short-term fellow at the Huntington Library. Warhol joined Ohio State after 26 years at the University of Vermont, as a core faculty member of Project Narrative in 2009. She was director of Project Narrative from 2010 until 2012. 

The Distinguished Scholar Award is among the highest annual honors awarded at Ohio State. The university-level award annually honors six faculty members who demonstrate scholarly activity, conduct research or creative works that represent exceptional achievements in their fields and garner distinction for the university. 

Award recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including past award recipients. Distinguished Scholars receive an honorarium and a research grant to be used over the next three years. 

Quotes from Warhol’s nomination:   

“Warhol’s influence on the field of narrative studies extends far beyond even these brilliant and pathbreaking projects: it is also a function of the conferences she has created, the anthologies she has edited, the connections she has forged, and the scholarly societies of which she has been president (which includes nearly every organization in which she has taken an active role). Many of her projects, like her award-winning monograph on George Scharf, have been collaborations, a testimony to Warhol’s capacious, energetic, and gracious inclusiveness.” Susan S. Lanser, Brandeis University. 

“Robyn Warhol has been a generous and inspiring mentor to many younger scholars, myself included. I count myself very lucky that at a point in my career when I needed to see that it is possible for a woman to be an ambitious and successful scholar as well as an open-minded and empathetic human being, I encountered her. She has supported and encouraged me in many ways, not least in acting as a role model combining all those qualities. Where she goes she projects a sense that academia can and should be a place where we love what we are doing – and that it is our responsibility to do what we can to ensure that it will be such a place for others, too.” Dorothee Birke, University of Innsbruck. 

“Robyn Warhol is a major force in literary studies today. She is eminently distinguished in three major fields of scholarship: narrative theory, gender studies, and Victorian studies…Her reputation as a brilliant conceptualizer of research questions - and answers – is well known. She is a leader among the scholars who have developed the field of contextualized narratology – that is, the idea that narrative forms only mean something if one considers them in their precise historical context (which is always determined by gender, race, class, and conditions of material production).” Carolyn Williams, Rutgers University.