Launching our new seminar series!

I am excited to announce that we have a new seminar series coming up. This will run through the academic year and begin with the three talks listed below. These will all take place on Zoom on Mondays between 5-6pm. If you would like to attend a session, please email or to request the Zoom link. All are very welcome.

9th November. Dr. Simon Marsden Apocalypse Not Quite Yet: Waiting for the End in Mid-Victorian Literature

23rd Nov Dr. Helen Kingstone How to get an overview on the Napoleonic Wars: from panorama paintings to Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts.

7th Dec   Dr. Gavin Budge Charlotte M Yonge, Religious Conversion and Victorian Modernity

Introducing our new co-director, Koenraad Claes

Dr Koenraad Claes (@KoenraadClaes) joined the ARU English department in January to temporarily fill in for Prof John Gardner, who is currently away on his Leverhulme Research ProjectMachines Made of Words’. Before moving to Cambridge, Koenraad held research and teaching positions at Ghent University (Belgium) and the University of Kent. He will be with us teaching Romantic and Victorian literature in the BA and MA courses until July 2021, and as a new Co-Director for the 19th Century Studies Unit he looks forward to meeting you at events in the next academic year, whatever form these will take!

Koenraad’s research interests are mainly in long-nineteenth-century British literature and periodical history. His first monograph The Late-Victorian Little Magazine came out with Edinburgh University Press in 2018 but only last month became available in paperback, and he is working on his second book, which will discuss the relationship between conservative political discourse and narrative form between the Storming of the Bastille and the Second Reform Act (1867). He serves as managing editor of the open-access journal Authorship and as biographies acquisitions editor for Yellow Nineties 2.0; drop him a line if you want to talk about either.

The most fun thing Koenraad has done in a long time was this interview with our friends at the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers. Which Victorians would you want to Zoom with?

Talk on Mon 9th March at 5 in Hel 114. Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak on ‘Naturecultures Across Time and Space: John Clare’s Artistic Legacy in Ecopoetry Written by Children’

Naturecultures Across Time and Space: John Clare’s Artistic Legacy in Ecopoetry Written by Children

Expanding the existing accounts of John Clare’s poetry and its impact on contemporary culture, Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak proposes to look at Clare’s output in light of ecopoetry created by pupils attending John Clare Primary school in Helpston, Clare’s birthplace. Every year, all the children write poems on a topic selected by the John Clare Society and participate in a competition it sponsors. Currently, circa 600 poems are stored in folders available at the school’s reception, but they are not publicized in any way. Justyna’s preliminary research reveals that the children’s poems, like Clare’s poetry, describe a sense of the relationality and interconnectedness of all existence across different scales. They also express the young authors’ involvement with the human and non-human communities that are close to them. Arguing for the recognition of children as cultural producers and creators of ideas and texts, Justyna explores how the vitality and agency of Clare’s poetry emerge through its interactions with the children’s poems, resulting in mutual generativity and an embodied relational ecology. She develops a semiotic-material approach based on new materialism to show how multiple collective and individual encounters between Clare’s works, the children’s poems and contemporary children, adults and their lifeworlds result in new entanglements of matter and meaning and shed light on our participation in ecological networks and relationalities connecting the human and the non-human.

Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak is Associate Professor of Literature and Director of the Center for Young People’s Literature and Culture at the Institute of English Studies, University of Wroclaw, Poland. She is the author of Yes to Solidarity, No to Oppression: Radical Fantasy Fiction and Its Young Readers (2016). She is a Kosciuszko, Fulbright and Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow. Since 2017 she has served as a member of the executive board of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature. She is now a visiting researcher at Anglia Ruskin University, working on Ecopoetic Entanglements: Children’s Poetry Mobilizing John Clare’s Artistic Legacy, a project funded by the Bekker Programme of the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange (NAWA).


Trimester 2 Seminar Series

We have an exiting line of speakers planned for this trimester. All the sessions will begin at 5pm unless otherwise stated and I’ll post up further details about the speaker and the talk in the week/s leading up to it. All are welcome. Please email me at if you have any questions or queries.

Date Speaker Title Room
Mon 27th Jan (NB this talk will begin at 4.45) Professor Mary Joannou Writing a Woman’s Life: The Biography of Clara Rackham (1875-1966: Suffragist, Socialist, Social Reformer) Hel 114
Mon 10th Feb Hilary Bedder Listening to the Trees: Vegetal Otherness in the poems of Thomas Hardy.




Hel 112
Mon 17th Feb Dr. Abderrezzaq Ghafsi Charles Dickens and Religion Hel 114
Mon 24th Feb Dr Koenraad Claes ‘To wait the course of events’: Walter Scott and Counter Revolutionary Narrative


Hel 109
Mon 9th March Dr. Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak Naturecultures Across Time and Space: John Clare’s Artistic Legacy in Ecopoetry Written by Children Hel 114
Mon 30th March 

This talk has been cancelled because of the situation with COVID 19. It will be rescheduled for a later date. 

Dr Gavin Budge Charlotte M Yonge and the Juvenilization of the Nineteenth-Century Novel Hel 114