I grew up in Sydney, Australia, and completed my PhD at the University of Sydney on the Pre-Raphaelite roman à clef. Before joining Queen Mary in 2019, I taught Victorian Literature at Oxford (Univ College), the University of London (Goldsmiths), and the University of Sydney, and held postdoctoral research posts at the University of Kent, the University of Sydney, and the Australian National University.
My research in nineteenth-century literature has foundations in the gallery, the archive and the periodical press. Many of my publications explore intersections between Victorian literature and visual culture, particularly Pre-Raphaelite art, poetry and memoir, as well as textual representations of sculpture throughout the long nineteenth century in the work of Barrett-Browning, Eliot, Gosse, Gissing, Hardy, James, Vernon Lee and D.G. Rossetti. My research also focuses on book history and the Victorian periodical press. I have published on literary lectures and the rise of English studies, as well as the role of the nineteenth-century press in encouraging the global circulation of literature and scholarly practice, with particular interests in the colonial consumption of literature spread through Victorian literary societies.
I have published in Modern Language Quarterly, British Art Journal, The Burlington Magazine, Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, Journal of Australasian Victorian Studies and several edited collections. I edited the ‘Victorian Sculpture’ issue of 19 in 2016 and co-edited a collection China and Global Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century, 1784-1935 (2020). I am currently writing a book on the relationship between sculpture, literature and the idea of authenticity, titled ‘Reading Victorian Sculpture’.
- ESH279 Victorian Fictions
- ESH123 Narrative
- ESH126/7 London Global
ESH7011 Victorian Print Culture
- Victorian literature and visual culture
- Nineteenth-century periodicals and reviewing culture
- Victorian readers and reading: book history and global communities of reading (particularly colonial readerships)
Recent and On-going Research
My research focuses on the intersections of literary, visual and reading cultures of the Victorian era. I am completing a book on ‘Reading Victorian Sculpture’ that examines the relationship between sculpture, literature and the idea of authenticity from the acquisition of the first of the Elgin Marbles in 1801 to Queen Victoria's death a century later. The book argues that nineteenth-century sculpture and the literature it inspired (by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Robert Browning, George Eliot, Edmund Gosse, George Gissing, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and Vernon Lee) functioned to reframe conceptions of authenticity, powerfully shaping ideas about originality, forgery and replication. It shows how anxiety surrounding sculpture’s increasingly mechanised reproduction was an essential facet of Victorian modernity which pre-dated twentieth-century theories about art and mechanical reproduction. I have published on this topic in 19 and the Journal of Australasian Victorian Studies, and was invited to give papers at Birkbeck’s Nineteenth-Century Forum and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. I was also the invited editor of the ‘Victorian Sculpture’ issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, described by Victorian sculpture expert Prof. David Getsy (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) as ‘help[ing] to advance the ways in which Victorian sculpture studies seeks to redefine itself in the 21st century.’
My second research project examines the contribution of literary societies to the rise of English studies through the global circulation of literary texts and reading practices in the late nineteenth century. My research shows how nineteenth-century literary societies devoted to Wordsworth, Shelley, Browning, the Brontës, and Dickens became agents for disseminating groundbreaking reading practices, spreading debate about curricula, relevance, and the public benefit of studying vernacular literature over the English-speaking world from the UK to Europe, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America. In offering a parallel history to the well-documented institutional account of the evolution of English studies, the project will demonstrate how the activities of amateur literary societies were intertwined with the development of formal disciplines, as they were evolving both within nineteenth-century universities and in the popular imagination. The project will explore the extent to which these informal global literary networks left legacies that continue to influence the reading and studying of English literature globally today. I was invited to present this work at the Cardiff’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research and have published research on this topic in Modern Language Quarterly, and in essays published in Mapping Fields of Study: The Cultural and Institutional Space of English Studies (University of Nancy Press) and Nineteenth Century Literature in Transition: The 1880s (CUP).
Co-edited with William Christie and Q.S. Tong, Tribute and Trade: China and Global Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century, 1784-1935 (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2020).
Editor of Special Issue on ‘Victorian Sculpture’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
(June 2016) < https://19.bbk.ac.uk/issue/123/info/
ESSAYS AND ARTICLES
‘“The Newest Culte”: Victorian Poetry and the Literary Societies of the 1880s’, in Nineteenth Century Literature in Transition: The 1880s, ed. Penny Fielding and Andrew Taylor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 53-79.
‘Victorian Experiments in Reading Scientifically’, in Mapping Fields of Study: The Cultural and Institutional Space of English Studies, ed. Richard Somerset and Matthew Smith (Nancy: University of Nancy Press, 2019), 147-170.
‘“All the senses would melt into one”: Theodore Watts-Dunton’s Aylwin and the Decadent Pleasures of the Roman à Clef’, Decadence and the Senses, ed. Jane Desmarais and Alice Condé (Oxford: Legenda, 2017), 83-100.
31 entries in the Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism, ed. Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor (2nd edn, eBook: ProQuest, 2017).
‘Reading Victorian Sculpture’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 22 (June 2016): 1-14. <doi: 10.16995/ntn.776>
‘Thomas Woolner’s “Bad Times for Sculpture”: Framing Victorian Sculpture in Vocabularies of Neglect’, Journal of Australasian Victorian Studies (2014): 32-44.
‘Nineteenth Century Sculpture and the Imprint of Authenticity’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 19 (November 2014): 1-22 < doi: 10.16995/ntn.704>.
‘The Shelley Society, Literary Lectures and the Global Circulation of English Literature and Scholarly Practice’, Modern Language Quarterly 75.2 (June 2014): 279-96.
‘Australian Symbolism’, Burlington Magazine (August 2012) 154: 601-2.
‘“An Interesting Failure”: Pre-Raphaelite Celebrity and the Sexual Politics of Pre-Raphaelite Aestheticism in Vernon Lee’s Miss Brown (1884)’, in Literature and Politics, ed. Peter Marks (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2012), 23-34.
‘The myth of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix as memorial painting’, British Art Journal (2010) 11/1: 89-92.
‘“I am Plain Morris”: Reimagining the Everyday William Morris in H.D.’s White Rose and the Red’, in William Morris and the Art of Everyday Life, ed. Wendy Parkins (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010), 155-74.
‘Stunner: The Sensation of Elizabeth Siddal’, in Literature and Sensation, ed. Anthony Uhlmann, Helen Groth, Paul Sheehan, Stephen McLaren (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009), 24-33.
Digital Humanities Projects
I have a keen interest in digital humanities projects that develop freely available online resources, and have contributed to several. The Edinburgh Review in the Jeffrey Years (1802-1829) is a website developed by Will Christie (Australian National University) and myself which provides open access to transcripts of editorial letters, a collaborative Edinburgh Review encyclopaedia and interactive timelines and geotagging, all accessible at http://edinburghreview.net.au/.
I also worked on a database of Victorian Special Correspondents with Cathy Waters (University of Kent), providing information on the first generation of special correspondents and special artists working in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century. The database is freely accessible at https://research.kent.ac.uk/victorianspecialsdatabase/#.
I have presented the following public lectures in Australia and the UK, and welcome future opportunities to speak.
- ‘Shaping the Invisible Sculptor: The Life’s Work of Thomas Woolner PRB RA’ at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in 2017.
- ‘Celebrity Circuits: the Impact and Influence of Celebrity Visitors to Nineteenth-Century Australia’ at the public Scholarly Musings Series at the Mitchell Library in Sydney, Australia in 2013.
- ‘Trafficking Personality: Celebrity, Sculpture and Empire in the Late Nineteenth Century’ at the State Library of New South Wales in 2013.