Dr Clara Dawson MA, PhD


Teaching Fellow

Department of English Literature

Contact details


My main research interest is in the poetry of the long nineteenth-century, spanning from the Romantic period to the Edwardian.


PhD, Durham University, 2012; MA (Distinction), University of York, 2007; BA (First Class), Durham University, 2006.


I came to Birmingham in September 2013 following research fellowships at the University of Edinburgh and Baylor University, Texas. I completed my PhD on Victorian poetry at Durham in 2012.


I am teaching (UG) Literary Aesthetics After 1800, Stories of the Novel, Victoria’s Secrets and (PG) Victorian Modernity.


My previous research, both in my current book project (based on a revised version of my doctoral thesis) and my published articles, has focused on the relationship between poetry and other forms of public discourse.

The aim of my book, Poetry and Popularity in the Victorian Era, is to investigate the concept of popularity as it operates in the poetic culture of the early and mid-Victorian period and to understand how nineteenth-century poets negotiated the demands of their readers and the literary culture as mediated through periodicals. The theme of popularity is a nexus for an exploration of ideas about the marketplace and the commodification of art, the autonomy of the poet, and poetic sincerity. This exploration takes place through a detailed examination of the relationship between poetry and periodical reviews, a major literary form of the period.

I am currently developing a research project on the poetry of the late-nineteenth century and Edwardian period.

Other activities

I am a member of the London Browning Society and the British Association of Victorian Studies.

Conference Papers

  • “‘Plated Goods’: Pseudo-Rhyme in the Poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning”, “Rhyme in English Poetry”, Durham University, September 2013.
  • "Poetry and Popularity: Metaphors of Genius in Victorian Poetics", Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, March 2013.
  • “The Sound of Browning”, “Robert Browning and Victorian Poetry at 200”, Baylor University, Texas, November 2012.
  • “The Oyster and the Pearl: Valuations of Robert Browning’s Poetry”, British Association of Victorian Studies: “Victorian Values: Economics, Ethics and Aesthetics”, Sheffield, August 2012.
  • “Do you see this Ring?’: Irony in The Ring and the Book”, Browning Bicentenary Conference on the Dramatic Monologue, London, June 2012. 
  • “Romanticism Contested: Tennyson and Browning in the 1830s”, British Association of Romantic Studies: “Romantic Connections: Networks of Influence, c. 1765-1835”, Newcastle, June 2012. 
  • “The Melancholic Speaker and Tennyson’s Maud”, “Poetry and Melancholia”, Stirling, July 2011. 
  • “The Meaning of Sound: The Hidden Life of Voice in Tennyson’s Poetry”, “The Young Tennyson”, Lincoln, July 2009. 
  • “The Mind’s Ear in Tennyson’s Early Poetry” Durham Postgraduate Research Seminar series, Durham, May 2009. 
  • “‘Only her Voice…Alive, but just a Sound': Echoes, Voices and Prosopopeia in Tennyson's Maud” “Tennyson's Futures”, Oxford, March 2009.

Public Lectures

  • Invited to give a public lecture at Palace Green Library as part of a series for the “Outrageously Modern” exhibition.
  • Invited to give plenary lecture at the Tennyson Society conference, “Tennyson and Browning Among the Reviewers” Durham, July 2011.
  • “The Poetry and Violence of the Ulster Troubles” Durham English Postgraduate Summer Public Lecture Series, Durham, September 2010



  • Critical Heritage: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 2 vols. Routledge, October 2013.
  • Currently revising monograph manuscript, Poetry and Popularity in the Victorian Era


  • “The Romantic Rhyming Couplet”, Romanticism, 2014 (date tbc)
  • “Victorian Poetry”, Year’s Work in English Studies, 2014.
  • “Writing the Reader: Sordello and the Poetics of Reception”, Essays in Criticism, January 2014.
  • “Browning at 200: His Bicentenary Year”, Literature Compass, November 2013.
  • “'A tale of little meaning': The Mind's Ear in Tennyson's Early Poetry”, Tennyson Research Bulletin, Autumn 2010.

Online articles


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