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As a Department of English we view research and publishing as integral to our work as lecturers. Indeed, we feel passionate about our specialist areas of research and are currently involved in exciting projects which both push the boundaries of the discipline and augment existing knowledge in new ways. We publish the results of our research and creative writing as scholarly books, book chapters and journal articles, as well as in the forms of novels and poetry and short story collections. We also contribute to edited volumes and online publications. Some of us are editors of journals and magazines.

Our research activities and specialised knowledge inform the modules we teach, ensuring that students are able to engage with the latest developments and research methods in the discipline. We also bring our research into the community through public lectures, short courses, study days, poetry readings and via the media. We liaise with museums, libraries and theatres and we speak at literary festivals and schools. Many of us deliver keynote lectures at conferences and other events, as well as organising conferences which bring together academics from all over the world.

The Department's fourmain research areas are: English LiteratureCreative Writing, English Language and Gender Studies. Within these disciplines we have specialisms in children’s literature; corpus linguistics; flash fiction; queer theory; women’s writing; stylistics; Irish literature; postcolonial literature; South African literature; contemporary literature; nineteenth-century literature; modernism; the history of English; literary theory; and poetry. Academic staff are currently involved in a number of ongoing research projects, many of which have resulted in a wide range of publications. Here are details of some of the recently-published books produced by members of the Department:

English Literature

Eileen Pollard, Origin and Ellipsis in the Writing of Hilary Mantel: An Elliptical Dialogue with the Thinking of Jacques Derrida (Routledge, 2019)

Dr Pollard has been described as ‘one of the foremost Mantel scholars working in academia at present’ and this is the first book-length study of Hilary Mantel's writing, not just in terms of Jacques Derrida's thought, but through any critical perspective or lens to date.

Lucy Andrew, The Boy Detective in Early British Children’s Literature: Patrolling the Borders between Boyhood and Manhood (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

Dr Andrew’s book maps the development of the boy detective in British children’s literature from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century. It explores how this liminal figure – a boy operating within a man’s world – addresses adult anxieties about boyhood and the boy’s transition to manhood. The book charts the relationship between developments in the representation of the fictional boy detective and changing expectations of and attitudes towards real-life British boys during a period where the boy’s role in the future of the Empire was a key concern.

Alex Tankard, Tuberculosis and Disabled Identity in Nineteenth-Century Literature: Invalid Lives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

Where are all the angry, ungrateful, bad consumptives in Victorian literature?

Until the nineteenth century, ‘consumptive invalids’ were depicted as angelic beings whose purpose was to die beautifully and set an example of pious suffering – while, in reality, many people with tuberculosis faced an unlovely death in the workhouse. Dr Tankard’s Invalid Lives asks whether disruptive consumptives like Aubrey Beardsley, and characters in Wuthering Heights, Jude the Obscure, The Idiot, and Ships That Pass in the Night, represented critical, politicised disabled identities decades before the modern disability movement. 

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

 Dr Leahy’s book examines the relationship between literature and artificial illumination, demonstrating that developments of lighting technology during the nineteenth century definitively altered the treatment of light as symbol, metaphor, and textual motif.

Deborah Wynne is the co-editor (with Amber K. Regis) of Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives (Manchester University Press, 2017; 2nd ed. in paperback, 2019).

In 2016 Charlotte Brontë turned 200, leading to new editions and adaptations of her work. For Professor Wynne the bicentenary provided an opportunity to collaborate with Dr Amber Regis (University of Sheffield) to look anew at our persistent fascination with Charlotte’s plots and characters, poetry and fictions, letters and essays. The book looks at the first Brontë pilgrims at Haworth, the founding of the Brontë Society and Parsonage Museum, along with the survival of Charlotte’s work across the 162 years since her death. The book also

Gender Studies

Emma Rees is the editor of Talking Bodies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Embodiment, Identity and Gender (London: Palgrave, 2017)

In this collection, leading thinkers, writers, and activists offer their responses to the simple question “do I have a body, or am I my body?”. The essays engage with the array of meanings that our bodies have today, ranging from considerations of nineteenth-century discourses of bodily shame and otherness, through to arguing for a brand new corporeal vocabulary for the twenty-first century. This interdisciplinary volume maps a range of cultural anxieties about the body, resulting in a timely and compelling book that makes a vital contribution to today’s key debates about embodiment

In 2013 Professor Rees, who is Director of the Institute of Gender Studies, published The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History (a revised paperback edition came out in 2015).

It was widely positively reviewed:

‘Rees' book is the kind of work we need more of if we are to challenge and reconfigure how we understand women and sexuality in contemporary discourse.’

Shahidha Bari, Queen Mary, University of London, UK, Times Higher Education.

The Vagina bejazzles. I highly recommend it.’

Sally R Munt, Professor of Cultural and Gender Studies, University of Sussex.

Emma continues to tour her talk, ‘Vulvanomics’, based on her book, and has presented it at well over 30 venues in the UK, USA, and Europe.

Sarah Heaton, an Associate Professor and Head of English, has edited A Cultural History of Hair in the Age of Empire (London: Bloomsbury, 2019)

 This collection explores how hair became a contested site of signification in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The book presents nine original essays by experts in a variety of fields discussing hair in the contexts of religion, fashion and adornment, health and hygiene, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and a broad range of cultural representations. Dr Heaton’s chapter, ‘Gender and Sexuality: Tresses Adorned and Adored, Locks Coiled and Cut’, is included in the volume.

Creative Writing

William Stephenson’s poetry collection, Travellers and Avatars (Live Canon, 2018) Shortlisted for the Live Canon First Collection Prize.

Dr Stephenson’s first full poetry collection Travellers and Avatars was shortlisted for the Live Canon First Collection Prize in 2018.  Reviewers have said that his poems are:

Ian Seed New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018). This book of prose poems and small fictions was selected as a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year

Dr Seed’s work was described as ‘beautifully-crafted’: ‘Seed’s micro-narratives and oblique parables are at once droll and haunting, as unpredictable as quicksand, and as elegant as the work of those masters of the prose poem, Max Jacob and Pierre Reverdy.’ Mark Ford, The Times Literary Supplement, No. 6034, November 23, 2018.

Alan Wall

Badmouth (Harbour Books, 2014)

One reviewer of Professor Wall’s novel remarked that it is 'a witty, wicked comedy that takes in Sigmund Freud and teases the mind of the reader half to death. Terrific.' Times, 15th February 2014

English Language

Harry Parkin, Your City’s Place-Names: Leeds. Your City’s Place-Names volume 3. Nottingham: English Place Name Society, 2017.

Dr Parkin’s book covers the principal districts (officially or unofficially recognized), some well-known buildings, features, and street-names, and the largest open spaces in the City of Leeds. The metropolitan area of Leeds is one of the largest government districts in England, and so this dictionary covers a relatively large area.

The Verb Phrase in English: Investigating Recent Language Change with Corpora Edited by Bas Aarts, Joanne Close, Geoffrey Leech, Sean Wallis (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Dr Close’s work is 'highly recommend[ed]’ as a resource for students and academics. The book offers an overview of currently ongoing changes in the verbal domain, but also, and no less importantly, as an inspiration for further research … The book offers the reader an authoritative and well-organised overview of changes that pertain to verbal structures.' (Martin Hilpert Source: Cercles)

Matt Davies’ book, Oppositions and Ideology in News Discourse (London: Bloomsbury Academic), was published in 2013.

One reviewer stated that Dr Davies' book is ‘an excellent contribution towards research on the function and structure of constructed oppositions in ideological texts. Davies' framework adeptly shows how constructed opposites can be identified and classified, using case studies to demonstrate that oppositions are often used in complex and subtle ways that may not be detected by readers.’ –  Professor Paul Baker, Lancaster University, UK,