Dr Rebecca Anne Barr, Jesus




Biographical Information

Rebecca Anne Barr is Associate Professor in the Faculty of English. She studied at Jesus College Cambridge for her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, writing her PhD on the work of eighteenth-century novelist Samuel Richardson. Originally from Northern Ireland, she taught at St Peter’s College, Oxford, and the National University of Ireland, Galway, before returning to Cambridge in 2019.

She teaches for Part I, Paper 6, English Literature and its Contexts: 1660-1870 (possibly the longest 'long' eighteenth century in the world) and for the new Part II Paper, 'Love, Gender, Sexuality: 1740-1824'. Rebecca convened the Faculty MPhil in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Studies from 2020-2022. From 2021-2023 she was chair of the Faculty's EDI committee.

Since 2019 Rebecca has been an Associate Editor at Medical Humanities, a journal which publishes new research on the history of medicine, disability, gender, bioethics, and medical education. She welcomes inquiries about potential article submissions and proposals for special issues. In Lent 2023 Rebecca was the Crausaz Wordsworth Interdisciplinary Fellow in Philosophy, working on a project on women's fiction and the moral philosophy of laughter. For more details see https://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/about/people/rebecca-anne-barr/. For an interview about the project, and the ways in which women's humour gets overlooked by literary histories fixated on masculine satire, see here https://magazine.alumni.cam.ac.uk/18th-century-great-laughter-debate/. In September 2024, she will take up a Keough-Naughton Library Research Award at the University of Notre Dame for a project on Jonathan Swift's 'The Legion Club' and contemporary digital satire.

You can see a recording of Rebecca giving a short talk on 'male virgins', eighteenth-century novels, and misogyny here. [CW: includes discussion of Brett Kavanaugh and sexual assault.]

Research Interests

  • The eighteenth-century novel
  • Gender and sexuality in literature
  • Embodiment
  • Twentieth-century poetry.

Selected Publications

Edited Collections
Articles and Chapters
  • 'Gin Lane in Lockdown: Cold War Steve’s Hogarth', forthcoming at The Shandean.
  • 'Gender', in Oliver Goldsmith in Context, ed. Michael Griffin and David O'Shaughnessy (Cambridge University Press, 2024), pp. 104-113.
  • 'Laughing to learn: Sarah Fielding's Lessons from Life', in Women's Literary Education, 1690-1850, ed. Louise Joy and Jessica Lim (Edinburgh University Press, 2023), pp. 194-214.
  • 'Sentiment and Sexual Servitude: White Men of Feeling and The Woman of Colour', Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Special Edition: New Essays on 'The Woman of Colour' (1808), (2023) 35:1: 81-102.
  • ‘Rape Narratives, Women's Testimony, and Irish Law in Asking for It and Dark Chapter,' in Law and Literature: The Irish Case, ed. Adam Hanna and Eugene McCabe (Liverpool University Press, 2022), pp. 195-216.
  • ‘Richardsonian fiction, women’s raillery and heteropessimist humour,’  Eighteenth-Century Fiction 33, (Summer 2021), 575-600.
  • ‘Refusing romance, imagining decolonial love: The Woman of Colour’, special issue on ‘Race, Religion, and Revolution in the Enlightenment’, Studies in Religion and the Enlightenment 2, no. 2 (spring 2021). 
  • Introduction to the New Eighteenth-Century Ireland,’ Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture (49), 2020, 327-332.
  • ‘Brightest wits and bravest soldiers: Ireland, Masculinity and the politics of paternity’, in Irish Literature in Transition, 1700-1780, M. Haslett, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), pp. 263-283.
  • ‘Men, Women, and not quite non-persons: derivatization in Roxana’La Revue de Société des Études Anglo-Américaines des XVII et XVIII Siecles (75), 2018.
  • ‘Desire, Disgust, and indigestion in John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Coxcomb,’ Bellies, Bowels and Entrails in the Eighteenth Century, pp. 227-251.
  • ‘“Moral Painting, by Way of Dialogue”: Shaftesbury in The Cry,’ Shaftesbury: Shaping Enlightenment Politics, ed. P. Mùˆller ed., (Peter Lang: Frankfurt am Main, 2018) pp. 237-254.
  • ‘Barren desarts of arbitrary words”: language and communication in Collier and Fielding’s The Cry’, Women’s Writing, Volume 23, Issue 1(2016), 87-105.
  • The man of feeling as dupe of desire: John Cleland’s 'Memoirs of a Coxcomb’, Etudes Epistémè, 30, 2016.
  • with J. Tonra, ‘Annotation and the Social Edition,’ A Handbook of Editing Early Modern Texts, ed. H. Philips and C. Williams (Ashgate, 2016), pp. 117–120.
  • ‘Black Transactions: waste and abundance in Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa,’ The Afterlife of Used Things: Recycling in the Eighteenth Century, A. Fennetaux, A. Junqua and S. Vasset eds., (London: Routledge, 2014) pp. 199–211.
  • Pathological Laughter and the response to ridicule: Samuel Richardson, Jane Collier and Sarah Fielding,’ La Revue de Société des Études Anglo-Américaines des XVII et XVIII Siecles, XII-XIII (70) 2013, 223–246.
  • ‘W.S. Graham and epistolarity,’ Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, 1.4 (May 2012), 51–63.
  • ‘“Complete Hypocrite, Complete Tradesman”: Defoe’s Complete English Tradesman and masculine conduct,’ Positioning Daniel Defoe’s Non-fiction: Form, Function, Genre, ed. A. Mueller, (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2011) pp. 67–85.
  • ‘Resurrecting Saxon things: Peter Reading, ‘species decline’ and Old English poetry,’ Anglo-Saxon Culture in the Modern Imagination, N. Perkins and D. Clark eds. (Cambridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2010), pp. 255–279.
  • ‘Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison and the symptoms of subjectivity,’ The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 51:4, Winter 2010, 1–24.