Matthew Geary

Matthew Geary

Department of English Literature
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

Phd title: T. S. Eliot and the Mother: Ambivalence, Allegory and Form
Supervisors: Professor Steve Ellis
PhD English Literature


I am a doctoral researcher in English Literature and Psychoanalysis at the University of Birmingham. My current research involves a psychoanalytic re-reading of a selection of T. S. Eliot's works utilising differing psychoanalytic and philosophical frameworks (Freudian, Lacanian, Object Relations, Post-Lacanian, Feminist, esp. Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray). My research has a maternal bias and focuses on the role of the mother as central to the process of psychic development of not only the child but also art, text and culture. Noting that for the last thirty-five years the critical search for the mother has been almost entirely ‘daughter-centric’, I am especially concerned with the mother-son relationship as a continuing ‘taboo topic’. My work reconsiders literary representations of mother-son relationships, mother-son ambivalence, the maternal and the maternal body, mothering and motherhood, and the elaboration of a maternal poetics in the works of male modernist and postmodernist writers in light of recent advancements in maternal theory, gender theory, psychoanalytic theory and feminist theory. Further, it proposes a new theory of allegory brought closer to the maternal body than previously stated.

My MPhil thesis T. S. Eliot and the Female Divine was fully funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council). My Ph.D. is fully funded by a College Scholarship from the University of Birmingham College of Arts and Law Graduate School. Prior to my PhD I completed my BA in English Literature at the University of Birmingham in 2010, receiving a first class honours degree. I was awarded the Tess Winnall Memorial Prize on the grounds of academic merit and general contribution to the life of the University, and also the Tibbatts Memorial Prize for being deemed the most proficient in English.

Other activities

I am co-founder, organiser and chair of the PsyLit network based at the University of Birmingham I am a member of BAMS (The British Association of Modernist Studies), and also a member of the PSYLITFILM network based at the University of Sussex.

I co-organized the Other Eliots: Contemporary Trends in T. S. Eliot Studies conference which took place on Friday 18 April, 2014, at the University of Birmingham.

I have further interests in the work and life of Walter Benjamin.


Published Papers

  • ‘“Oh how often you toy with me, crafting illusions!”: Mother-Son Love in T. S. Eliot’s “La Figlia Che Piange”’ Studies in the Maternal.7.1 (2015).

Seminar Papers

  • “T. S. Eliot, the Mother and Ash-Wednesday” delivered at the University of Birmingham, May 2013.

Forthcoming Publications

  • ‘Maternal Allegory: Death and the Mother, Faith and Revelation in “Ash-Wednesday”’ in Religion and Myth in T. S. Eliot's Poetry. Eds. Dr. Scott Freer and Professor Michael Bell. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.

Book Reviews

  • “Book Review: Freudian Passions: Psychoanalysis, Form and Literature by Jan Campbell.” Studies in the Maternal, 5(2), 2013.