Matthew Geary


Doctoral researcher

Department of English Literature

Matthew Geary


Phd title: ‘Must we part’ - mother-son ambivalence in the works of T. S. Eliot
Supervisors: Professor Steve Ellis
PhD English Literature


My 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, 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. I am especially interested in the poetic construction, development, and use of maternal and threshold forms, representations of the maternal and the female divine, and also questions of gender, sexuality, subjectivity, and desire in male modernist and postmodernist literature. My current work 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 administrator for the University of Birmingham English postgraduate forum, 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 am co-organiser of the Other Eliots: Contemporary Trends in T. S. Eliot Studies conference which is due to take place on Friday 18 April, 2014, at the University of Birmingham.

I am also a reader in psychoanalysis, and have further interests in the work and life of Walter Benjamin.



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

Forthcoming Publications

  • “Oh how often you toy with me, crafting illusions!”: Mother-Son Love in T. S. Eliot’s “La Figlia Che Piange” (Pending)
  • “Allegory and the Mother in T. S. Eliot's Ash-Wednesday” in Religion, Philosophy and Myth in T. S. Eliot's Poetry. Eds. Scott Freer and Michael Bell. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.

Book Reviews

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

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