Dr Will Tattersdill BA (Hons.), MSt, PhD

Dr Will Tattersdill

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in Popular Literature, Liberal Arts, and Natural Sciences

Contact details

131, Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I’m interested in the relationship between literature and science, especially as it is figured in popular culture from the nineteenth century to the present. My current work is on the social history of dinosaurs over this period.


  • BA (University of Exeter)
  • MSt (Exeter College, Oxford)
  • PhD (King’s College London)
    Thesis title: ‘Science, Fiction, and the Monthly Magazines 1891-1905.’


I grew up in Moseley and studied in Exeter, Oxford, and London before returning to Birmingham for a teaching fellowship in 2013. In September 2014 I became a full-time lecturer in the English department, and have been senior lecturer since June 2018. In September 2020 I joined the University's school of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, although I continue to teach and supervise in English Literature as well.


  • From Research to Policy I (LANS, Level C)
  • The Uses of Genre (English Literature, Level I) - convenor
  • Interdisciplinarity I (LANS, Level I)
  • Alternative Facts (English Literature, Level H) - convenor
  • Evolutions of Popular Fiction (English Literature, Level M)

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to read applications on any selection from or combination of the following subjects, for any period from 1854 to the present day:

Genre Theory
Popular Fiction
Literature and Science
Science Fiction
Alternate History
Literature and Museums
Geology, prehistory, or palaeontology in popular culture
Periodical Studies
Journalism (especially 1850-1910)
Empire (especially 1880-1900)
Book History


In my doctoral research, I examined the connections between literature and science in popular magazines of the fin de siècle. In particular, I focussed on the emerging genre of science fiction, arguing that the co-presence of fact and fiction alongside each other in these general magazines created a publishing environment in which sci-fi could thrive.

My current research looks at these ideas across a wider time period, focussing on how dinosaurs are articulated in popular culture. Dinosaurs are impossible without a great deal of both close scientific study and abstract imaginative work - I’m investigating the way the relationship between literature and science plays out as the social dinosaur moves through time.

I am also interested in book history, periodical studies, museums, imperialism, popular fiction, crime writing, and modernism.

Other activities

I am LANS's liaison to the College of Arts and Law, and am happy to talk to any student interested in pursuing a Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences degree with an emphasis on the humanities.

I have previously taught on the Access to Birmingham (A2B) programme and at the AEP and HEI summer schools, among other kinds of school and community outreach. I warmly encourage contact from anybody who’d like to talk to me in this capacity.

I am a member of the British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS) and the British Association of Victorian Studies (BAVS). I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Recent publications


Tattersdill, W 2016, Science, fiction, and the Fin de Siècle periodical press. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316534724


Burke, V & Tattersdill, W 2022, 'Science fiction worldbuilding in museum displays of extinct life', Configurations, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 313-340. <https://muse.jhu.edu/article/862964#info_wrap>

Naish, D & Tattersdill, W 2021, 'Art, anatomy, and the stars: Russell and Séguin's Dinosauroid', Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2020-0172

Kistler, J & Tattersdill, W 2019, 'What's your dinosaur? or, imaginative reconstruction and absolute truth in the museum space', Museum & Society, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 377-389. https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v17i3.3219

Tattersdill, W 2017, 'Looking at the Issues: Science and Fiction as Genres in the Fin de Siècle Magazine', Textual Practice, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 417-431. https://doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2016.1249706

Tattersdill, W 2017, 'Work on the Victorian Dinosaur: Histories and Prehistories of Nineteenth-Century Palaeontology', Literature Compass, vol. 14, no. 6, e12394. https://doi.org/10.1111/lic3.12394

Tattersdill, W 2013, 'Periodicity, Time Travel, and the Emergence of Science Fiction: H. G. Wells’s Temporal Adventures in the Pages of the New Review', Victorian periodicals review, vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 526-538. https://doi.org/10.1353/vpr.2013.0048

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Tattersdill, W 2022, Nonhumanoid Alien Life. in L Garcia-Siino, S Mittermeier & S Rabitsch (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Star Trek. 1st edn, Routledge Literature Handbooks, Routledge.


Tattersdill, W 2020, 'Discovery' and the form of Victorian Periodicals. in S Mittermeier & M Spychala (eds), Fighting for the Future: Essays on Star Trek Discovery. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool.


Burke, V & Tattersdill, W 2022, 'Introduction: Museums in Science Fiction, Science Fiction in Museums', Configurations, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 247-256. https://doi.org/10.1353/con.2022.0016

Special issue

Tattersdill, W & Burke, V (eds) 2022, 'Science Fiction and the Museum', Configurations, vol. 30, no. 3. <https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/48421>

Tattersdill, W & Sudan, R (eds) 2018, 'State of the Unions', Configurations, vol. 26, no. 3.

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