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About Dr Richard Leahy

Richard completed his PhD in 2016, and after working as a Visiting Lecturer in the University of Chester and Bangor University, became a full time member of the English department at Chester in 2018.

His PhD focused on the evolution and influence of artificial light within nineteenth-century literature. An adapted version was published as Literary Illumination by University Wales Press in late 2018, receiving positive reviews from The Wellsian: The H.G. Wells Journal among others. 

Within the English Department, he runs Writing Skills Workshops, convenes several modules, and is the co-ordinator of the Glyn Turton Lecture Series.


Richard currently convenes EN4002 'Approaches to Literature' at Level 4 and EN7218 'Science, Technology and Medicine in the Nineteenth Century' at Level 7, as well as teaching/lecturing on the following modules:

  • EN4002 Approaches to Literature
  • EN4008 Studying Literature 1
  • EN4009 Studying Literature 2
  • EN5002 Victorian Literature
  • EN5004 The Gothic
  • EN6022 Nineteenth Century Literature
  • EN6031 Kill Bill: Representing Trauma
  • EN7201 Nineteenth Century Literature
  • EN7202 Nineteenth Century Culture
  • EN7203 Research Methods
  • EN7218 Science, Technology and Medicine in the Nineteenth Century



My research interests are multiple and varied, generally focusing on the nineteenth-century. I am currently working on intersections and representations of nineteenth-century literature, railway technology and psychology; the idea of truth in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series; as well as some pedagogical research into uses of digital media in English Literature teaching.

I have reviewed for The Wilkie Collins Journal, and had my work reviewed by The Wellsian: The HG Wells Journal.

Selected Conference Presentations:

  • Gladstone’s Colloquium, February 2014 – ‘The Candle and Victorian Literary Spaces.’
  • University of Cambridge’s ‘Thinking with Things’ Seminar Series, April 2014 – ‘The Candle in Detective and Gothic Fiction.’
  • Paris Diderot University’s ‘Uses of Light in British Arts of the Nineteenth Century Conference’, June 2014 – ‘The Candle and Lacan’s Gaze.’
  • The British Society For Literature and Science Annual Conference, University of Liverpool, April 2015 – ‘Candlelight and Gaslight, or Individuality and Modernity.’
  • British Association of Victorian Studies Conference, Cardiff, August 2016 ‘Networks of Consumerism and Technology in the works of Émile Zola.’
  • ‘Talking Bodies’, The University of Chester, April 2017 – ‘Writing the Body in Gillian Flynn’s Novels’.
  •  British Association of Victorian Studies Conference, Lincoln, August 2017 – ‘Trains and Brains: The Shared Social Experience of Railways and Psychology’.
  • British Association of Victorian Studies Conference, Exeter, August 2018 – ‘The Sensuous Pastoral: The Pre-Raphaelites and Detail’

Published Work


Literary Illumination: The Evolution of Artificial Light in Nineteenth Century Literature (University Wales Press, 2018) 

Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

‘Fire and Reverie: Domestic Light and the Individual in Cranford and Mary Barton’ in The Gaskell Journal, Vol. 28 (The Gaskell Society, 2014)

‘Artificial Light in the Nineteenth Century: Candlelight and Gaslight; or the Individual and the Network’ in Kaleidoscope: Light, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Durham University, 2014)

‘The Literary Realisation of Electric Light in the Early 20th Century: Artificial Illumination in H.G. Wells and E.M. Forster’ in Dark Nights, Bright Lights: Night, Darkness and Illumination in Literature, eds. Susanne Bach and Folkert Degenring (Berlin: Degruyter, 2015)

'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Class and the Uncanny’ for the BAVS Neo-Victorianist Blog (March, 2016)

‘Sherlock’s ‘The Abominable Bride’: Recreating Nineteenth Century Illumination in Neo-Victorian Space’ for the BAVS Neo-Victorianist Blog (April, 2016)

‘Deconstructing and Reconstructing Textual Femininity in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl’ in Parlour Journal, Vol. 2 (University of Ohio, August 2016)

‘Myth, Folklore and Spiritualism in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Representations of Hair’, A Cultural History of Hair in the Age of Empire (Bloomsbury, 2018)

‘With, all down darkness wide, his wading light?’: Light and Dark in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘The Candle Indoors’ and ‘The Lantern out of Doors’, The Nordic Journal of English Studies (University of Gothenburg, 2018)

‘Superintelligence and Mental Anxiety from Mary Shelley to Ted Chiang’ Foundation: Science Fiction Studies, 130 (2018)

'His Dark Materials in a Post-Truth World' in His Dark Materials and Philosophy: Paradox Lost, eds. Richard Greene and Rachel Robison-Greene. (London: Open Court, 2020)

'Trains and Brains: Splitting the Self in Sensation Fiction' in The Rail, The Body, and the Pen, ed. Brian Cowlishaw (McFarland, 2021)

'Ted Chiang, Intelligence, and Anxiety' in SSC: Ted Chiang, ed. Derek C. Maus (Layman Poupard, 2022)