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English literature

Our reputation for cutting-edge research in literary studies, bibliographical scholarship, cultural history and critical theory is sustained by our strong commitment to innovation and interdisciplinary work.

We focus on the critical articulation of texts across a broad range of periods, genres and themes, and with reference to many cultural forms. We have notable expertise in editorial and digital humanities research. PhD applications are welcome in all areas of our specialism


Our research covers all periods of literature, from Old English and Norse to Contemporary experimental:

  • Arthurian and medieval literature (Old and Middle English; Old Norse)
  • Shakespeare and Renaissance studies
  • Seventeenth-century studies
  • Eighteenth-century and Romantic literature
  • Nineteenth-century and Victorian literature
  • Twentieth-century and contemporary literature


We undertake research across all genres, from fiction to poetry and drama:

  • Contemporary fiction
  • Creative writing
  • Crime fiction
  • Drama, film and music
  • Historical fiction
  • Poetry and Poetics

Research areas

Our research theorises the cultural impact of literature in past and present worlds and covers a range of specialisms including crime fiction, Gothic, literature and the environment, literature and the law, Neo and Counter approaches to literature, gender and women’s writing, and book history:

  • Cultural and literary history
  • Digital humanities
  • Editing theory and practice
  • Gender and literature, women’s writing
  • Gothic
  • Historicism (neo-medieval, neo-Gothic, neo-Victorian, counter-Romantic)
  • Irish studies
  • Literary and critical theory
  • (Literary) Translation, Literature in translation
  • Literature and the environment
  • Literature and the law
  • Postcolonial studies
  • Welsh writing in English

Research centres

Many of our staff members working on English Literature are also part of our Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, or our cross-disciplinary research groups, Image Works and Science Humanities.

Staff in this theme

Staff Research interests 'Research bites'
Professor Neil BadmingtonTwentieth century and contemporary literature, contemporary fiction"Writing keeps the world itself at a desirable distance."
Professor Bill BellNineteenth century and Victorian literature"A book is not a text: binding, paper, typography, format, and historical traces are all for reading."
Dr Melanie Bigold Seventeenth century studies, eighteenth century and Romantic literature "Marginalia are not marginal. They provide documentary evidence of the uses and reception of texts by common readers."
Dr Catherine ButlerChildren’s literature, especially fantasy and historical fiction; gender identity; the relationship of the academy to creative authors and ‘lay’ readers; fan fiction 
Dr James CastellEighteenth century and Romantic literature, poetry and poetics"Poetry allows us to think differently about the beings that we are and the beings that we aren't."
Dr Sophie CoulombeauEighteenth century and Romantic literature"What's in a name? In Romantic literature, acts of naming 'place', authors and characters within various identity categories."
Professor Martin Coyle Shakespeare and Renaissance studies, drama, film and music"We can never have too many interpretations of Hamlet, or too many editions of the play"
Professor Holly Furneaux Victorian literature and culture, and Victorian legacies, with an emphasis on gender, forms of family, sexuality, touch and emotion; Victorian visuality; Dickens and his legacies; Victorian domestic fiction and ideas of family; Neo-Victorian queer fiction; the Crimean War and its afterlives 
Dr Rob Gossedge Arthurian and medieval literature (old and middle English; old Norse), historical fiction"Far from being its more respectable cousin, medieval studies is just another form of medievalism."
Professor Katie GramichTwentieth century and contemporary literature, contemporary fiction, poetry and poetics"Welsh women have been culturally invisible; yet they have been writing the nation for the past six centuries."
Professor Richard GwynTwentieth century and contemporary literature, contemporary fiction, poetry and poetics"To translate a poem is not only to inhabit its language, but to walk in its land."
Professor Ann HeilmannNineteenth century and Victorian literature, twentieth century and contemporary literature, contemporary fiction, historical fiction"The Victorians never died; their cultural influence is inescapably reinvented by every new generation."
Professor Martin A. Kayman Eighteenth century and Romantic literature, crime fiction"The myth of the 'unwritten law' is a characteristically English way of conceiving relations between law and the literary."
Dr Megan Leitch Arthurian and medieval literature (old and middle English; old Norse)"Medieval people thought sleep endangered body and soul, and tried to be conscientious about how they lost consciousness."
Dr Anthony MandalEighteenth century and Romantic literature, nineteenth century and Victorian literature, the gothic, book history and digital humanities"Literary history is constructed by those writers we forget, as much as it is by those we commemorate."
Professor Radhika MohanramTwentieth century and contemporary literature"Postcolonial literature writes back to the centre while insisting on its indigenous difference."
Dr Jane Moore Eighteenth century and Romantic literature "Ancient Greek lyrical poetry and song exerted a formative influence upon British Romanticism."
Dr Irene Morra Shakespeare and Renaissance studies, twentieth century and contemporary literature, contemporary fiction, drama, film and music"In England, popular music has surpassed literature to become the dominant signifier of a contemporary national and cultural identity."
Dr Becky MunfordTwentieth century and contemporary literature, contemporary fiction"Trouser-wearing women have been subjected to legal, medical and cultural modes of regulation."
Professor Carl Phelpstead Arthurian and medieval literature (old and middle English; old Norse)"In medieval Iceland hair loss was analogous to castration."
Dr Carl PlasaNineteenth century and Victorian literature, twentieth century and contemporary literature"Despite being an historical phenomenon, the transatlantic slave trade remains a vital source of inspiration for contemporary writers."
Dr Josh RobinsonPoetry and poetics"Poetry thinks in ways that we have hardly begun to comprehend."
Dr Carrie SmithTwentieth century and contemporary literature, poetry and poetics"The writing process in the manuscript drafts of a poem can illuminate the published piece."
Dr Ceri Sullivan Shakespeare and Renaissance studies, seventeenth century studies"Private prayer is the seventeenth century's power- knowledge - and its most widely practised creative writing."
Professor Julia ThomasNineteenth century and Victorian literature"The Victorians invented Shakespeare's birthplace"
Professor Damian Walford Davies Eighteenth century and Romantic literature, twentieth century and contemporary literature, poetry and poetics"As literary theorists, critics and historians, we need a route beyond historicism; the answer (for now) is counterfactualism."
Professor Martin Willis The study of the inter-relationships between literature, science and medicine