Our members are engaged in a number of exciting and groundbreaking research projects. We frequently publish our work in leading journals and monograph series in the field, and are committed to sharing our research with a number of diverse audiences through exhibitions, talks and workshops. Click on and expand the links below to see detail of our most recent research, including our publications and public engagement activities. More details on past research projects can be found by visiting members’ individual staff profiles.

olive schrienerPublications:

Olive Schreiner Writers and Their Work (Tavistock: Northcote House, 2013).

You can see a clip of Carolyn discussing her book here.




Luisa Calè, Co-Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, works on Romantic period literature and visual culture; the emergence of museums and exhibitions; the intersections between reading, collecting and the history of the book, and critical disciplinarity. She has published Henry Fuseli’s Milton Gallery: ‘Turning Readers into Spectators’ (2006), Dante on View: The Reception of Dante in the Visual and Performing Arts (2007, co-edited), Illustrations, Optics and Objects in Nineteenth-Century Literary and Visual Culture (2010, co-edited), a special issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies on ‘The Disorder of Things’ (2011, co-edited), and two issues of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth-Century. Her current book project, entitled ‘The Book Unbound’, explores practices of reading, collecting, and dismantling the book. She is also involved in experiments in durational and interval reading, which explore the potential of digital platforms and social media. She set up the Our Mutual Friend Reading Project, and worked with the MFA Theatre Directing at Birkbeck on an adaptation of William Blake’s The Four Zoas, which she describes in ‘Blake’s Dream: A Dramaturgical Experiment’.

Current Projects: Monograph

The Book Unbound (monograph on the material culture of books, ca. 1750-1850, with chapters on Walpole, Blake, and Dickens)

Current Projects: Edited Collections

  • ‘Literature and Sculpture at the Fin de Siècle’, Word and Image, guest co-edited with Stefano Evangelista (deadline for submission winter 2015)
  • 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 21 (2015), anniversary issue on The Digital Nineteenth-Century Archive, co-edited with Ana Parejo Vadillo.

Recently Published:

  • ‘A Romantic Gallery of Old Master Paintings: Spenser’s Faerie Queene 1833-44’, La Questione Romantica, special issue on Romantic Victorians, edited by Stefano Evangelista and Carlotta Farese (2013).
  • ‘A Gallery in the Mind’? William Hazlitt, Edmund Spenser and the Old Masters’, Tate Papers (Autumn 2015), Special Issue on William Hazlitt’s Art Criticism
  • ‘In the Cloud: Nineteenth-Century Visions and Experiments for the Digital Age’, co-authored with Ana Parejo Vadillo, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 21 (2015) 

Forthcoming Essays:

  • ‘Blake, Young, and the Poetics of the Composite Page’, Huntington Library Quarterly, special issue on Blake’s Manuscripts edited by Mark Crosby (forthcoming)
  • ‘Extra-Illustrations: The Orders of the Book and the Fantasia of the Library’, in Material Cultures of Enlightenment Arts and Sciences, ed. by Adriana Craciun and Simon Schaffer (Palgrave, 2016)

In Progress:

  • ‘Extra-Illustration and Ephemera: Altered Books and the Alternative Forms of the Fugitive Page’, Eighteenth-Century Life (submission 2015, published 2016), special issue on literary ephemera edited by Sandro Jung
  • ‘Historic Doubts, Conjectures, and the Wanderings of a Principal Curiosity: Henry VII in the Fabric of Strawberry Hill’, Word and Image, special issue on ‘Mediating History’s Materiality, 1700-1900’ (deadline for submission: Winter 2015)
  • ‘“A Bright Erroneous Dream’: The Shelley Memorial and the Hermaphroditic Body of the Poet’, Word and Image, co-authored with Stefano Evangelista, special issue on ‘Literature and Sculpture at the Fin de Siècle’ (deadline: Winter 2015)
  • ‘The Reception of Blake in Italy’, in The Reception of William Blake in Europe, 2 vols ed. by Morton Paley and Sibylle Erle (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2017)
  • ‘Blake’s Bestiary: Pseudomorphosis, Remediation, and Monstrous Sights in Dante’s Commedia’, in Beastly Blake, ed. by Helen Bruder and Tristanne Connolly (abstract accepted; book proposal in progress)
  • ‘Illustration’, in William Blake in Context, ed. Sarah Haggarty (Cambridge: CUP, forthcoming)

Conferences and Symposia Organized:

  • The Disorder of Things, an international series of six events, 2009-2011
  • Romanticism at the Fin de Siècle, Oxford, 14-15 June 2013
  • Blake, The Flaxmans, and Romantic Sociability, Birkbeck, 18-19 July 2014
  • Blake Apprentice and Master, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 23 January 2015
  • Literature and Sculpture at the Fin de Siècle, Tate Britain, 23 March 2015

Selected Talks:

  • ‘Hazlitt, Spenser and the Old Masters’, The National Gallery, 28 November 2014
  • ‘Blake and the House of Death’, Blake Apprentice and Master, Ashmolean Museum, 23 January 2015
  • ‘The Hours: The Public and Private Histories of a Commonplace’, Romantic Illustration Network, no 5, Tate Britain, 27 February 2015, podcast
  • ‘Book Disorders: Composite Forms and the Alternative Possibilities of the Disbound Page’, Harvard University, 14 May 2015
  • ‘Blake’s Visions of Hell: Monstrous Sights and Pseudomorphoses in Dante’s Commedia’, From Hogarth to Hellboy: the Transformation of the Visual Reader, London, Senate House, 16 December 2015
Thumbnail (1)Publications 

Women Writing Art History in the Nineteenth Century: Looking Like a Woman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

This book sets out to correct received accounts of the emergence of art history as a masculine field. It investigates the importance of female writers from Anna Jameson, Elizabeth Eastlake and George Eliot to Alice Meynell, Vernon Lee and Michael Field in developing a discourse of art notable for its complexity and cultural power, its increasing professionalism and reach, and its integration with other discourses of modernity. Proposing a more flexible and inclusive model of what constitutes art historical writing, including fiction, poetry and travel literature, this book offers a radically revisionist account of the genealogy of a discipline and a profession. It shows how women experienced forms of professional exclusion that, whilst detrimental to their careers, could be aesthetically formative; how working from the margins of established institutional structures gave women the freedom to be audaciously experimental in their writing about art in ways that resonate with modern readers.

  • ‘Vasari’s Lives and the Victorians’. The Ashgate Research Companion to Giorgio Vasari, ed. David J. Cast. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, pp.277-93.
  • Russian translation of ‘The Language of Touch in Victorian Art Criticism’. New Literary Observer 125, 1 (2014), pp.43-56.

Forthcoming in 2015:

  • ‘Art and the Literary’.  The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Literary Culture, ed. Juliet John. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015
  • ‘Italy and Victorian Literature’. The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature, ed. Dino F. Felluga, Pamela K. Gilbert and Linda K. Hughes. New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015
  • ‘The Language of Mourning in Fin-de-Siècle Sculpture’. Word and Image (2015)

Conferences and Lectures in 2015:

  • Research Forum on ‘Women and the Culture of Connoisseurship’ at the University of Sussex (1-2 July, 2015)
  • Symposium on ‘Sculpture and Literature at the Fin de Siècle’ at Tate Britain (27 March, 2015)
  • The Sally Ledger Memorial Lecture at Birkbeck, University of London (16 July, 2015).


  •  ‘A Use in Measured Language’: Poetic Allusion and the Victorian Culture of Death’, Forum for Modern Language Studies 49.3 (2013), 229-243.
  • ‘Living with the Dead in Lyrical Ballads’, The Modern Language Review 108.2 (2013), pp. 441-462.
  • ‘“A subject dead is not worth presenting”: Cromwell, the Past, and The Haunting of Thomas Carlyle.’ Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net 59-60 (2011).
  • ‘Artificial Respiration in Our Mutual Friend.’ The Dickensian, Volume 105:2 (Summer 2009), pp. 101-108.
  • “Subject to the sceptre of imagination”: Sleep, Dreams, and Unconsciousness in Oliver Twist. In: Stanley Friedman, Edward Guiliano, Anne Humpherys, Talia Schaffer, and Michael Timko, ed. Dickens Studies Annual : Essays on Victorian Fiction; Volume 38. AMS Press, 2007, pp. 1-15.


Living with the Dead: Revolution, Reform and the Authority of the Past, 1789-1852 Monograph (currently under review):

Public lectures:

  • ‘Buried Treasure? Valuing the Dead in Nineteenth-Century England’. Highgate Cemetery, 19 February 2015.
  • ‘Better Thoughts of Death: Dickens, Wordsworth and the Psychology of the Victorian Cemetery’. Kensal Green Cemetery, 5 November 2015.
  • ‘Charles Dickens and the Invention of Christmas’. Stratford Library, 8 December 2014.

Selected Recent Book Reviews:

  • Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture by Deborah Lutz. Forthcoming in Notes and Queries.
  • The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Vols 38 & 39, Carlyle Studies Annual 28 (2014), 217-213
  • Shock, Memory and the Unconscious in Victorian Fiction, by Jill L. Matus. The Times Literary Supplement. Feb. 19, 2010, p. 27
  • Advertising, Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Dickens, Balzac and the Language of the Walls by Sara Thornton. The Modern Language Review, 105: 3 (July 2010): 819-21
  • The Dickens Industry: Critical Perspectives 1836-2005 by Lawrence Mazzeno. The Modern Language Review 105:1 (222-223)

V0015876 Portrait of Oliver Caswell and Laura Bridgman reading embossPublications

  • “Waste matters: Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend and nineteenth-century book recycling”, in Book Destruction From the Medieval to the Contemporary, ed. by Adam Smyth and Gill Partington (Palgrave, 2014)
  • “The Sentimental Touch: Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop and the Feeling Reader”, Journal of Victorian Culture, submission for a special issue on ‘Victorian Sentimentality’, 16:1 (2011)


  • Monograph project: Blindness and Writing: Wordsworth to Gissing (Under review)
  • “Touching blind bodies: a critical inquiry into pedagogical and cultural constructions of visual disability in the nineteenth century”, co-authored with Jan Eric Olsen (University of Copenhagen), in The Edinburgh Companion to the Critical Medical Humanities (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016), ed. by Angela Woods and Anne Whitehead.


Public Lectures

  • “Blindness in Victorian Britain: a history of advocacy”, National Archives (3 December, 2015)
  • “‘Exhibiting Blindness as it Really is’: Portraits of Blind People in the Nineteenth Century”, National Portrait Gallery (12 December 2013)
  • ‘Walter Pater and Michael Field: The Correspondence, with Other Unpublished Manuscripts Materials’, Pater Newsletter, Spring Issue (no. 64) 2015.
  • ‘Generational Difference in To the Lighthouse’Cambridge Companion to Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Ed. By Allison Pease. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2014. 122-135. [On Virginia Woolf, Alice Meynell and generational differences through fin-de-siècle fashion]
  • ‘ “Gay Strangers”: Reflections on Decadence and the Decadent Poetics of A. Mary F. Robinson.’ Cahiers Victoriens et Édouardiens 78 (2014). Special Issue on Emprunts et empreintes de la langue étrangère dans la littérature victorienne et édouardienne. Ed. Emily Eells.  Open acess:
  • ‘Another Renaissance: The Decadent Poetic Drama of A.C. Swinburne and Michael Field’ in Jason Hall and Alex Murray, eds., Decadent Poetics: Literature and Form at the British Fin de Siècle. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013. 116-140.
  • ‘Cosmopolitan Aestheticism: The Affective “Italian” Ethics of A. Mary F. Robinson’ in Comparative Critical Studies, 10.2 (June 2013), special issue on Fin-de-Siècle Cosmopolitanism, eds. Stefano Evangelista and Richard Hibbitt. Open acess:
  • ‘Living Art: Michael Field, Aestheticism and Dress’ in Kyriaki Hadjiafxendi  and Patricia Zakreski , eds., Crafting the Woman Professional in the Long Nineteenth Century.  Artistry and Industry in Britain. Aldershot: Ashgate, October 2013. 243-271.







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