Skip to content

About Prof Melissa Fegan

I joined the University of Chester in 1998, following a DPhil at the University of Oxford on representations of the Great Famine in nineteenth-century Irish, British, and American literature. My fascination with the ways the Famine has been written about in its immediate aftermath and up to the present day, in Ireland and abroad, has remained a major strand in my publications and my teaching of Irish literature and nineteenth-century British literature and culture.


I teach on the BA in English Literature and the MA in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Modules I teach or lecture on include:

  • Studying Literature
  • Approaches to Literature
  • Romantic Literature
  • Victorian Literature
  • Gothic Literature
  • Modernism and After
  • Nineteenth-Century Literature
  • Nineteenth-Century Culture
  • Irish Literature

Postgraduate supervision:

I have supervised PhD students working on nineteenth-century Irish and English literature, and nineteenth-century travel literature. I welcome enquiries about research projects on:

  • Nineteenth-century literature
  • Irish literature
  • Literature and history
  • Neo-Victorian fiction
  • Travel literature
  • Representations of the Great Famine


I am currently working on representations of the Great Famine in post-independence Irish literature, the hotel in Irish travel literature and fiction, and nationalism in the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Lady Wilde.

I have reviewed for journals including: Irish Studies Review, English Historical Review, Journal of British Studies, Media History, Modernism/Modernity, Journal of Tourism History, Studies in Travel Writing, Translation and Literature, and Victoriographies. I have acted as a peer reviewer for many grant applications, journal articles and monographs, including for Atlantic Studies, Irish Studies Review, Breac, Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Victorian Studies, Neo-Victorian Studies, Syracuse University Press, and Bloomsbury. I am an Academic Adviser for Gale Cengage’s Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism and Poetry Criticism series.

Selected Conference Presentations:

  • ‘Apocalypse Now: Identity, History and the Famine Poet’, British Association for Romantic Studies conference, University of Surrey Roehampton, 2001.
  • ‘“Something so utterly unprecedented in the annals of human life”: William Carleton and the Great Famine’, ‘Victoria’s Ireland’ conference, University of Southampton, 2001.
  • ‘War of Words: The Famine in the Times and the Nation’, ‘Places of Exchange’ conference, University of Glasgow, 2002.
  • ‘Silence and Starvation: The Literature of the Great Famine’, Chester Literature Festival, 2003.
  • ‘The Great Famine in Literature’, Institute of Irish Studies, Bath Spa University College, 2003.
  • ‘The Nameless One: James Clarence Mangan and Nineteenth-Century Irish Poetry’, at ‘Ireland and the Victorians’ conference, University College Chester, 2004.
  • ‘James Clarence Mangan’s “A Vision: A. D. 1848”’, at ‘1848: The Year the World Turned’ conference, University of Central Lancashire, 2005.
  • ‘James Clarence Mangan as a War Poet’, at ‘Conflict’, British Association for Victorian Studies conference, University of Liverpool, 2006.
  • ‘James Clarence Mangan and Irish Orientalism’, at ‘The Victorians and the Arab World’ conference, University of Leeds, 2007.
  • ‘James Clarence Mangan and Cosmopolitanism’, at ‘Beyond the Canon’ conference, University of Chester, 2007.
  • ‘James Clarence Mangan and Irish Orientalism’, at North East Irish Culture Studies conference ‘Fantasy Ireland’, University of Sunderland, 2009.
  • ‘Representations of the Great Famine in Literature’, at Interdisciplinary Research Group for Science, Medicine and the Imagination, Cardiff University, 2010.
  • ‘The Irish Prophecy Man: Folklore and Famine in the Novels of William Carleton’, at ‘Ireland in the Nineteenth-Century English and Irish Novel’ conference, Università Roma Tre (Rome), 2010.
  • ‘Spectres of Hunger: The Famine in Contemporary Irish Literature’, at ‘Spectres of Class’ conference, University of Chester, 2011.      
  • ‘William Carleton and the Famine’, at the annual William Carleton Summer School, Clogher, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, 2012.
  • ‘The Future of Famine Studies: Round Table’, at ‘Global Legacies of the Great Irish Famine’ conference, University of Radboud, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2013.
  • ‘Waking the Bones: The Return of the Famine Dead in Contemporary Irish Literature’, at ‘Global Legacies of the Great Irish Famine’ conference, University of Radboud, Nijmegen, Netherlands, 2013.
  • ‘Disembodied Ireland: The Famine in John Banville’, at International Association for the Study of Irish Literature conference ‘Disembodied Ireland’, University of Lille, 2014.
  • ‘Rags and Fine Lace: Clothing During the Great Famine’, at ‘Textiles Stories’, University of Chester, 2015.
  • ‘“This most humane commerce”: Lace-making and the Great Famine’ at ‘The Great Famine and Its Impacts: Visual and Material Cultures’, National University of Ireland at Maynooth, 2016.
  • ‘“My broken kingdom all was changed and yet was as it always was”: The Representation of Famine in Literature in a Changing Ireland’, at International Association for the Study of Irish Literature conference ‘Change’, University of Cork, 2016.
  • Invited Speaker (Keynote Lecture): ‘How the Other Three-Quarters Lived: The Cabin in Famine Literature’, at ‘The Great Famine and Social Class’ conference, Queen’s University Belfast, 2017.
  • ‘“This most humane commerce”: Lace-making and the Great Famine’, at University of Chester’s celebration of women’s research for International Women’s Day, 2018.

Published Work


  • Literature and the Irish Famine 1845-1919 (Clarendon Press, 2002).
  • Wuthering Heights: Character Studies (Continuum, 2008)



  • ‘Introduction’, Emily Brontë, Cumbres Borrascosas [Spanish academic edition of Wuthering Heights] (Editorial Vicens Vives, 2018)


Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

  • ‘Young Ireland and Beyond’, in Matthew Campbell (ed.), Irish Literature in Transition 1830–1880 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 38-57.
  • ‘The Great Famine in Fiction, 1901–2015’, in Liam Harte (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Fiction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), 407-423.
  • ‘How the Other Three-Quarters Lived: The Cabin in Famine Literature’, in Marguérite Corporaal and Peter Gray (eds), The Great Famine and Social Class: Conflicts, Responsibilities, Representations (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019), 29-50.
  • ‘“This Most Humane Commerce”: Lacemaking during the Famine’, in Marguérite Corporaal, Oona Frawley, and Emily Mark-Fitzgerald (eds), The Great Irish Famine: Visual and Material Cultures (Liverpool University Press, 2018), 110-127.
  • ‘The Moral Economy of the Irish Hotel from the Union to the Famine’, in Susanne Schmid and Monika Elbert (eds) Anglo-American Travelers and the Hotel Experience in Nineteenth Century Literature: Nation, Hospitality, Travel Writing (Routledge, 2017)
  • ‘“Of every land the guest”: Aubrey de Vere’s travels’, Studies in Travel Writing, 20:2 (2016), 135-148.
  • ‘“The Tottering, Fluttering, Palpitating Mass”: Power, Hunger and Representation in Nineteenth-Century Literary Responses to the Great Famine’, in Enda Delaney and Breandán Mac Suibhne (eds) Ireland’s Great Famine and Popular Politics (New York and London: Routledge, 2016), 34-58.
  • ‘Waking the Bones: the Famine in Contemporary Irish Literature’, in Ruud van den Beuken, Marguérite Corporaal, Christopher Cusack and Lindsay Janssen (eds) Global Legacies of the Great Irish Famine (Peter Lang, 2014), 157-174.
  • ‘“Every Irishman is an Arab”: James Clarence Mangan’s Eastern “Translations”’, Translation and Literature, 22:2 (Summer 2013), 195-214.
  • ‘William Carleton and Famine’, William Carleton Summer School, August 2012
  • "That heartbroken island of incestuous hatreds”: Famine and Family in Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea’, in Neo-Victorian Families, eds. Marie-Luise Kohlke and Christian Gutleben (Rodopi, 2011).
  • ‘The Great Famine in Literature, 1845-1896', in Julia M. Wright (ed.), A Companion to Irish Literature, vol. 1 (Blackwell, 2010).
  • ‘“Like a wail from the tomb, / But of world-waking power”: James Clarence Mangan's "A Vision: A. D. 1848", The Great Famine and the Young Ireland Rising', in 1848: The Year the World Turned?, eds. Kay Boardman and Christine Kinealy (Cambridge Scholars, 2007).
  • ‘“Something so utterly unprecedented in the annals of human life”: William Carleton and the Great Famine’, in Peter Gray (ed.), Victoria's Ireland?: Ireland and Britishness, 1837-1901(Four Courts Press, 2004).
  • "Isn't it your own country?”: The Stranger in Nineteenth-Century Irish Literature’, Yearbook of English Studies, 34 (2004), 31-45.
  • ‘The Traveller's Experience of Famine Ireland’, Irish Studies Review, 9:3 (2001), 361-71.


BA, MSt, DPhil, PGC Learning and Teaching (HE), FHEA.