Research and Education

In 2005, I completed my BA (Hons) in English Literature, with a subsidiary degree in French, at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  After taking a few years out, I came to Leeds to do an MA in Victorian Literature in 2008, which allowed me to explore a long-standing interest in the Victorian period.  This interest developed through voluntary archival and museum work around the Victorian period - at Westfield Heritage Centre in Ontario, Canada and Kew Bridge Steam Museum in Kew, London.  My MA dissertation, supervised by Professor Francis O'Gorman, examined the use of fairy tale themes as a method of creating spaces of metamorphosis in two texts by Christina Rossetti ('The Prince's Progress' and 'Goblin Market') and in three texts by George MacDonald (The Light PrincessThe Princess and the Goblinsand The Princess and Curdie), particularly exploring themes of liminality. 
I have continued my interest in the Victorian period and in fantasy through my PhD thesis, also supervised by Professor Francis O'Gorman. Entitled 'Transrealism as a Mode of Debate in Victorian Fiction',my PhD thesis explores how a range of writers in the early to mid-Victorian period engage interplay between the fantastic and the mimetic discourses in their texts to emphasize strategies for transforming troubled social identities.   Researching Charlotte Brontë’s use of gothic and uncanny tropes [The Spell (1834) and Jane Eyre (1847)], Charles Dickens’s use of ghost story traditions [Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839) and A Christmas Carol (1843)], references to otherworlds in George Eliot’s [The Lifted Veil (1859) and Daniel Deronda (1876)], and George MacDonald’s use of fairy tales as space of dialogue [Adela Cathcart, 'The Light Princess', 'The Shadows' and 'The Giant's Heart' (all first published in 1864)], I develop new interpretative strategies to investigate the partnership between fantastic and realist literature in nineteenth-century fiction: examining these texts in the context of such partnership allows the application of the twentieth-century/ twenty-first century theory of transrealism to nineteenth-century texts in order to identify how these writers use fantasy as a tool to represent emotional tensions around female artistic identity, disability, education and mental health [respectively] and through these depict potential for emotional and social transformation.
            My work on fantasy has also continued through an exploration of the Emily trilogy by Canadian writer L.M. Montgomery (Emily of New Moon, 1923; Emily Climbs, 1925; Emily's Quest, 1927).  I analyse how fragmented representations of psychic fantasy in the texts reveal negotiations of the literary marketplace on local, national, and international levels. My research on L.M. Montgomery was greatly assisted by funding from the Foundation for Canadian Studies, which allowed me to visit archival holdings for Montgomery texts in Canada.
I am currently developing a new research project which will examine the representation of the long nineteenth century in twenty-first century web comics/online sequential art; this builds on my published research examining Dickens’s use of serial illustration as a critical tool in order to develop strategies to research how partnership between digital illustration and text enhances critical production and insight into digital community engagement.

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