Dr Laura Davies, King's




Biographical Information

I am a College Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Literature, Director of Studies in English and Graduate Tutor at King's. I teach Practical Criticism for both Part I and Part II, English Literature and its Contexts 1660-1870, and Love, Gender, Sexuality 1740-1824. I supervise dissertations throughout these periods and papers.

Research Interests

My research focuses on British literature of the long eighteenth century with a particular interest in life writing and the textual representation of experiences and ideas that resist language or narration, including sound, time, death, spiritual visions, and dreams. I work on well-known figures such as Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, as well as a range of non-fiction prose including philosophical, religious, and medical texts. I am currently completing a book on The Spectator, which seeks to illuminate some of its darker or more complex recesses, including its engagements with ideas of blankness, death, blindness and secrets.

I also lead the research and public engagement project  'A Good Death?': https://good-death.english.cam.ac.uk

Areas of Graduate Supervision

I am happy to consider graduate supervision in the broad field of eighteenth-century studies, with a particular interest in non-fiction prose, as well as work at the intersections of literature and theology, philosophy, science or cultural history. I am also interested in supervising research that is principally concerned with death, grief and mourning within or beyond the long eighteenth-century.

Selected Publications

'"Obscurity at the utmost verge of our prospect": politeness and its limits in Boswell's Hypochondriack' in Impolite Periodicals: Down and Out with Mr Spectator ed. by Emrys D. Jones, Adam James Smith and Katarina Stenke (forthcoming Bucknell University Press).

‘Anecdotal Death: Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets’, in The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature, ed. Daniel K. Jernigan, Neil Murphy and W. Michelle Wang (2020)

‘Performing Devotion: Belief, the Body, and the Book of Common Prayer 1775–1840’, in Humanities, special edition ‘The Anatomy of Inscription’ ed. by Hunter Dukes, 7 (4), 2018: 100 https://doi.org/10.3390/h7040100

‘Samuel Johnson and the Grammar of Death’, in Narrating Death: The Limit of Literature, ed. by Daniel K. Jernigan and Walter Wadiak (Routledge, 2018), pp. 107-125

‘Devotional Mimesis’, in Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, ed. by Eve Tavor Bannet and Roxann Wheeler, 48 (March, 2019): 112-120

The Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies, Special edition ‘Writing Eighteenth-Century Religion’, 41.2 (June, 2018), ‘Introduction’ and Editor

‘Boswell in London: An Eighteenth-Century Soundscape’, in Etudes Épistémè, Special edition ‘Sound and Noise in the Eighteenth-Century’, ed. by Prof. Isobel Bour, 29 (2016); DOI : 10.4000/episteme.1046

‘Samuel Johnson and the Frailties of Speech’, in Literature, Speech Disorders, and Disability: Talking Normal, ed. by Chris Eagle (Routledge, 2014), pp.44-64

‘Autobiographical Time and the Spiritual Lives of Early Methodist Women’, in Women's Life Writing: Gender, Genre, and Authorship, 1740-1850, ed. by Daniel Cook and Amy Culley (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp.103-116

‘Methodism and Literature’, in The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism, ed. by William Gibson, Peter Forsaith and Martin Wellings (Ashgate, 2012), pp.461- 476

‘Orality, Literacy, Popular Culture: An Eighteenth-Century Case Study’, in Oral Tradition, 25/2 (2010): 1-18

‘No vain speculation: Samuel Johnson’s Rambler and eighteenth-century attitudes to orality’, Literature Compass, 5/3 (2008): 461- 471