PhD in Modern and Contemporary Literature

PhD in Modern and Contemporary Literature (Post 1830)

1. Cambridge is an outstanding place to work on modern and contemporary literature. Students and scholars benefit from world-class libraries, and from each other. You will be joining an academic community that is, at every level, extremely active in this period: undergraduates encounter post-1830 literature from their very first term, and the MPhil in English Studies: Modern and Contemporary Literature – which feeds the PhD programme –attracts exceptionally gifted students from around the Anglophone world. The PhD cohort itself is large in number, and diverse. No particular area or approach is preferred. Faculty members who act as supervisors and advisors for doctoral dissertations (names are listed below; individuals are happy to be approached about particular projects) work on a great variety of topics and in varied ways. Proposals of all kinds are therefore welcome: on little-known as well as canonical authors, in thematic as well as stylistic studies, from innovative and interdisciplinary as well as from more traditional, cultural and literary-historical perspectives. In addition to the formal training offered as part of the PhD, there are excellent opportunities for the sorts of enriching conversations and collaborations that emerge informally, between fellow PhDs, MPhils and Faculty. Fortnightly seminars, for instance (Nineteenth-Century; Twentieth Century and Contemporary Literature), which combine internal and invited speakers, encourage discussions and relationships between the entire research community.

2. Faculty Members who act as PhD supervisors or advisors for Modern and Contemporary topics include


Dr Ruth Abbott Dr Louise Joy
Dr Jenny Bavidge Professor Angela Leighton
Dr Jamie Baxendine Dr Robert Macfarlane
Dr Kasia Boddy Dr Isobel Maddison
Dr Deborah Bowman Dr Leo Mellor
Ms Sarah Cain Dr Rod Mengham
Dr David Clifford Dr Drew Milne
Professor Stefan Collini Dr Ian Patterson
Professor Steve Connor Dr Catherine Phillips
Dr Sinead Garrigan-Mattar Professor Adrian Poole
Dr Mina Gorji Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm
Dr Fiona Green Dr Anne Stillman
Miss Alison Hennegan Dr Trudi Tate
Dr Pam Hirsch Professor David Trotter
Dr Alex Houen Dr Marcus Waithe
Dr Michael Hrebeniak Mr Steve Watts
Dr Michael Hurley Dr Mark Wormald

3. Current and Recent PhD students' topics include

  • On Reading Rightly Wrongly: Towards Samuel Beckett’s ‘Syntax of Weakness’
  • Writing for the Stage: Theatre, the Novel and Society in Nineteenth-Century Britain
  • Representations of Abortion in British Literature and Film from around 1918
  • The Queer Cultures of 1930s Prose
  • The Representation of Hindu and Buddhist thought in Modernist Literature of the Interwar Years (1918-1939)
  • Professing Poetry: Style and Faith in Hopkins
  • The Conception of an Old Norse Heritage in Twentieth-Century Literature
  • The Uses of the Avatar: The Mediated Self in Women's Narratives Across Media
  • ‘A Change of Heart’: Representations of Death and Memorialisation in First World War Writing by Women
  • The 'Shaping Spirit of Imagination': Metaphors of Creation and Creativity in the Poetry of T S Eliot
  • A great Conversion: the Circus and Ireland
  • Penny Bloods: Circulation Stories in London's Popular Culture
  • The Ethics of Excess: Style and Morality in Post-War British Fiction
  • The Unpoetical Age: Modern Life and the Mid-Victorian Long Poem
  • For the Duration: Dreading Forward in Blitz-Time
  • Fiction and the government of Information in Britain, 1900-1950
  • From Virgin Land to Hinterland: Place and Dwelling in American Fiction, 1951 – 1995
  • Barry MacSweeney and Post-War British Poetry
  • Risking the Word: James Joyce, Risk and Modernism
  • Scott's Last Expedition and the Literature of Cold
  • Re-cognizing the Unconscious in Modernist Literature
  • Collage and Childhood in the work of T S Eliot
  • Representations of the Disabled Body in the Fiction of the Long Nineteenth Century
  • Nineteenth-century Imitations and Translations of the Medieval
  • Financial Crisis in Fiction
  • Samuel Beckett and Quietism
  • Writing Nature in the Age of the Chemical Countryside: Landscape and Environment in the Early British Postmodern Novel

4. Links to Seminar and Research Groups

Twentieth Century and Contemporary Literature

Literary Theory

Research Groups:

Nineteenth-Century Studies Hub