Dr Eleanor Dobson BA, MA, PhD, AFHEA

Photograph of Dr Eleanor Dobson

Department of English Literature
Lecturer in Nineteenth Century Literature

Contact details

Address
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

My current work focuses on the reception of ancient Egypt in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. More broadly, I am interested in the materiality and history of the book, as well as notions of the supernatural and the occult, particularly as these ideas operate at the edges of a range of scientific discourses. I teach literature from the late eighteenth century to the present, with particular focus on the Gothic genre, the natural world, gender and sexuality. 

Qualifications

Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy

  • PhD (English; University of Birmingham)
  • MA by Research (English; University of Birmingham)
  • BA (Hons) (English; University of Birmingham)

Biography

I joined the University of Birmingham as Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in September 2017, having previously been employed as a Visiting Lecturer and Teaching Associate (since 2013). I completed my PhD, MA, and BA at Birmingham. 

Teaching

I am the convenor of ‘Prose’ – one of the core first-year modules in English. I also teach classes on the second-year modules ‘Gothic’, and ‘Decadence & the Fin de Siècle’, lecturing across these modules as well as ‘Victorian Literature’. 

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome applications for doctoral projects on the reception of ancient Egypt from 1800 to the present day; on authors including Bram Stoker, H. Rider Haggard, Marie Corelli, Oscar Wilde, H. P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, and Sax Rohmer; nineteenth- and twentieth-century book history; and on the Gothic, occult, supernatural, particularly as these areas intersect with notions of the scientific in literature. 

Research

My first monograph (currently under consideration for publication) examines literature and culture in the ‘golden age’ of Egyptology, scrutinising the mutual influences of Egyptology and literary cultures across the closing decades of the nineteenth century and the opening decades of the twentieth, in the wake of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. In this project I conceive of a culture that at once encompasses Egyptological writing, popular forms of fiction, as well as works of ‘high modernism’, from the writings of archaeologists such as Howard Carter, through to the fiction and poetry of figures as diverse as H. Rider Haggard, Marie Corelli, Sigmund Freud, H. P. Lovecraft, Oscar Wilde and H.D. It also brings into conversation the physical books published by authors and Egyptologists alike, establishing the complex relationships between these objects as products of Egyptological study and the objects of Egyptological study themselves: artefacts often housed in museums, and sometimes in the private collections of these very authors.

I am also interested in science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly when it is seen to intersect with contemporary ideas about the supernatural or occult. I have published on the intersection between electromagnetic radiation and texts with ancient Egyptian subject matter, establishing the quasi-alchemical ways in which depictions of electrical phenomena and X-rays are presented as emblematic of magical lore of the ancients, and, simultaneously, the pinnacle of modern scientific understanding. I am currently researching other scientific areas in which these parallels can be traced: in psychology, and in the development of photographic technologies.

Forthcoming publications address photographic technologies, spiritualism and psychical research in Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, supernatural fiction set in Egyptian hotels, and the imagery of jewels and precious materials in Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Other activities

With Dr Jimmy Packham I am Admissions Tutor for undergraduate admissions in English. 

Publications

Edited books

  • Silver Bullets: Classic Werewolf Stories (London: British Library, 2017)

Chapters in books

  • ‘The Ghost of Oscar Wilde: Fictional Representations’, in Ghosts – or the (Nearly) Invisible: Spectral Phenomena in Literature and the Media, eds. Maria Fleischhack and Elmar Schenkel (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2016), 35-44

Articles

  • ‘Sleeping Beauties: Mummies and the Fairy-Tale Genre at the Fin de Siècle’, Journal of International Women’s Studies, 18.3 (2017), 19-34
  • ‘Gods and Ghost-Light: Ancient Egypt, Electricity, and X-Rays’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 45.1 (2017), 119-35

Journal special issues

  • ‘Rewriting(s)’, MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, 11 (2017) (co-edited with Lucy Russell)
  • ‘Strata: Geology, Archaeology and Psychology in Victorian and Edwardian Literature’, Victoriographies, 7.3 (2017) (co-edited with Gemma Banks)

Reviews

  • ‘Shawn Malley, From Archaeology to Spectacle in Victorian Britain: The Case of Assyria, 1845-1854’, The British Society for Literature and Science (2016), <http://www.bsls.ac.uk/reviews/romantic-and-victorian/shawn-malley-from-archaeology-to-spectacle-in-victorian-britain-the-case-of-assyria-1845-1854/>
  • ‘Lee Scrivner, Becoming Insomniac: How Sleeplessness Alarmed Modernity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)’, Cultural History, 4.2 (2015), 217-19