Sylvia A. Pamboukian, Ph.D.
Professor of English (Arts & Humanities)
Associate Director, University Honors Program (Honors Program)
412-397-6450 phone (M)
412-397-6468 fax
Wheatley Center 234

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., English/ Victorian Studies, Indiana University, 2003
  • BSc Phm., Pharmacy, Univ. of Toronto, 1993
  • M.A. , English, Univ. of Western Ontario, 1996

Professional Background

  • 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award in Scholarship, RMU

Area of Expertise/Research

  • British Literature; Victorian Studies; Literature and Medicine; 19th Century Novel; Gothic Literature;


  • Doctoring the Novel: Medicine and Quackery from Shelley to Doyle
    Ohio University Press, 2012.

    This project examines medical quackery and orthodoxy in nineteenth-century novels such as Charles Dickens's Bleak House and Little Dorrit, Charlotte Bronte's Villette, Wilkie Collins's Armadale and Arthur Conan Doyle's Stark Munro Letters. Rather than treating orthodoxy and quackery as pre-existing categories, this study examines the ways in which cultural documents such as novels construct quackery and orthodoxy by manipulating the boundaries of authenticity. The study concludes that even supposedly medico-scientific concepts evolve not in elite laboratories but in the rough-and-tumble of the public sphere. [Book]

  • "Old Holmes: Sherlock, Testosterone and 'The Creeping Man'" Clues: A Journal of Detection 35.1 (2017) [Article]

  • "Sugar and Spice: Cooking with the Girl Poisoner" Food, Feminisms and Rhetoric. Ed. Melissa Goldthwaite. Southern Illinois University Press, 2017 [Chapter]

  • "Fun and Games: The Joy of Poisoning in Children's Literature" Poison and Poisoning in Science, Fiction, and Cinema: Precarious Identities. Ed. Heike Klipple, Bettina Wahrig, Anke Zechner. Palgrave Studies in Science and Popular Culture, 2017. [Chapter]

  • "In the Apothecaries' Garden with Agatha Christie" Clues: A Journal of Detection. 34.1 (2016) [Article]

  • "Medical Disaster: Why Ken Mattingley Can't Have Measles in Apollo 13" Journal of the Medical Humanities Mar. 2015 [Article]

  • "That Wretched Italian Quack: Braddon's Critique of Medicine in 'Good Lady Ducayne'" Victorian Literature and Culture 43.3 (2015) [Article]

  • "Taboo: Names and Naming in the Harry Potter Series" Topic: the Washington and Jefferson Review 57 (Winter 2011) [Article]

  • "What the Traveler Saw: Evolution and Epistemology in Late Victorian Romance." H.G. Wells: Interdisciplinary Essays, Ed. Steven McClean. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009. [Article]


  • 2018 - From The Speckled Band to the Poison Garden: American Osler Society, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 2018 - We are all Miss Havisham: Victorianism and the Bride, Northeast Modern Language Association, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 2016 - Admitting Privilege: Patient Class and Autonomy in All Creatures Great and Small. ASBH, Washington DC
  • 2016 - A Dog's Life, or Why I Want to be Treated by James Herriot. Emerging Diversities in Health Humanities Summer Seminar, Hiram College
  • 2015 - The Poisonous Medicine Cabinet of Agatha Christie, Northeast Modern Language Association, Hartford, CT, 2015
  • 2011 - Harry Potter: Medieval Medicine, Science and Magic, National Library of Medicine's Exhibit, Harry Potter's World: Renaissance Medicine, Science and Magic, Pittsburgh, 2011.
  • 2011 - Proof of Spirit: Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne, Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts, Kitchener, Ontario, September 2011.
  • 2011 - Compounding and Danger: Alcohol in Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne 6th International Conference on the History of Alcohol and Drugs: The Pub, the Street, and the Medicine Cabinet, SUNY Buffalo, June 2011
  • 2010 - Was Sherlock Holmes a Quack? or, Why Arthur Conan Doyle's Medical Stories Matter, Pennsylvania Medical Humanities Consortium, Philadelphia College of Physicians, May 2010.
  • 2010 - The Ninety-Year-Old Virgin; or, Are Celibate Vampires the Sign of a Dying Genre? National Popular Culture & American Culture Associations Joint Conference (PCA/ACA), St. Louis, March 31-April 2, 2010.
  • 2009 - `If I Were Your Wife, I?d Poison Your Coffee': Poison and Domesticity in Mid-Victorian England. North American Victorian Studies Association conference, New Haven, CT (Yale), 2008.
  • 2009 - Women and Unprofessional Medicine, Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (NAVSA panel), Ottawa, (Carleton), 2009.