Dr Verity Burke

Dr Verity Burke

Department of English Literature
Postdoctoral Researcher

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My research focuses on the intersections between nineteenth-century literature, museums and collections culture, especially natural history, zoology and anatomy museums. I'm particularly interested in museum narrative and how objects and architecture can tell stories, as well as new mediums for disseminating the stories of collections.



  • PhD, University of Reading (2018) - Thesis title: ‘Intermedial Anatomy: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Collections Culture’


I was born and bred in Bristol, before undertaking my studies at the University of Reading. Prior to completing my PhD, I was appointed as the Research Officer for the Cole Collections. Previous roles include appointments as Engagement Fellow for the Linnean Society, and Research Associate on the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project, 'Building the Book of Nature: the Poetics of the Natural History Museum', working with principal investigators Professor John Holmes (Birmingham) and Professor Janine Rogers (Mount Allison). These positions have culminated in my current role as Research Associate on the AHRC-funded ‘Narrativising Dinosaurs: Science and Popular Culture from 1850 to Present’, which I am working on in collaboration with the project’s Principal Investigator, Dr Will Tattersdill.


Lecturer on ‘Alternate Facts’ (Level H) and Approaches to Nineteenth Century Studies pathway on the Literature and Culture MA.


I received my PhD for my thesis, “Intermedial Anatomy: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Collections Culture in the Cole Library of Early Medicine and Zoology” (July 2018). The project adopted an interdisciplinary approach to generate new understandings of how the bodies in Victorian museums were composed as much by words as they were by wax, bone or blood, revealing a complex and vital dialogue between literary culture, anatomical science and museum praxis.

My research interests include museums and collecting, anatomical illustration, the History of Science and Medicine, Material Culture, nineteenth-century medical jurisprudence and the Victorian notion of the criminal.

Other activities

As associate editor for the Wilkie Collins Journal, I would be very pleased to hear from any scholars looking to publish in the field of sensation fiction.

I’m a board member of the University of Reading’s Health Humanities Research Centre, as well as being a member of the British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS), the North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA), and the British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS).



  • ‘“A Regiment of Skeletons and an Army of Bottles”: Reading the Hunterian Museum in Nineteenth-Century Scientific and Popular Culture’ in Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net (RaVoN), Summer 2018 [forthcoming]
  •  ‘The Cole Museum of Zoology and the Cole Library of Early Medicine and Zoology at the University of Reading’, Question: Essays from the Arts and Humanities, Issue 1 (2017), pp.76-77.
  • ‘Unnatural Histories, or, How Linnaeus Vanquished Monsters’, PuLSe, Volume 35, Issue 435 (2017), pp.6-7.
  • ‘Reading the Body-Object: Nineteenth-Century Taxidermy and Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend’ in 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Nineteenth Century, Special Issue: Reading and Replicating the Body, 2017.

Book chapters

  • ‘Exhibiting Bodies: Museums, Collecting and Knowledge in Nineteenth-Century Literature’ in Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2020) [forthcoming]

I am also associate editor for the Wilkie Collins Journal, for which I co-edit each journal edition. I have published reviews of numerous books and articles for the British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS) and The Journal of Science and Literature.