Lucy Rogers, Hughes Hall

Degree: PhD
Course: English
Supervisor: Dr Ruth Abbott
Dissertation Title:

Women and the Early Development of Cambridge English

Biographical Information

I completed a BA in English at University College London in 2018, then moved to Girton College, Cambridge for an MPhil in Modern and Contemporary Literature (Distinction), with a focus on Victorian literature. My MPhil dissertation was entitled: ‘Let’s Talk Business: Literary Depictions of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Businesswomen.’ Following this I spent two years working as the Schools Liaison and Outreach Officer at Newnham College, Cambridge, a role which involved organising and running a wide range of both online and in-person widening participation events.

I returned to academic study in October 2021, starting a PhD at Hughes Hall. My doctoral research is funded by a Jebb Studentship and Sarah Squire scholarship. Alongside my studies I am still involved with various different university outreach projects, which I am always happy to discuss. I am also the Secretary for Hughes Hall Boat Club and a co-convener of the Women and Worlds of Learning Conference, taking place in Oxford in April 2024.

Research Interests

In my doctoral research, I examine the role of women in the early deveopment of 'Cambridge English' during the late nineteenth and early twenteith centuries. The project tackles questions of professionalisation and disciplinarity, using archival materials to examine the understudied years leading up to the publication of I.A.Richards’ Practical Criticism in 1929.

In most institutional histories, 'Cambridge' English is presented as a women’s subject in the sense that, from the start, many female students were being taught about literature. I argue that women also held an important position as teachers (and researchers) of English Literature in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but that their relationship with the embryonic English Tripos has been overlooked due to the less straightforward ways they engaged with this new subject.

I am therefore using a series of case studies, which often examine forms of literary engagement that took place outside of the core elements of English Tripos teaching, to facilitate an insight into the ways women academics engaged with this emerging subject and to evaluate the extent to which these women’s interpretations of what it could, and should, mean to study literature impacted the development of Cambridge English in its formational years.

My broader research interests include: nineteenth-century literature, especially New Woman fiction; textual scholarship; depictions of work and professionalisation; life writing/autobiography; history of education; museum studies; intellectual history; feminist theory; history of the book; history of information.

Selected Publications

Conference Papers

  • '(Im)Practical Criticism: Women and the early teaching of English Literature at the University of Cambridge', The Functions of Criticism Conference (2023)
  • ‘Eileen Power and the Idea of an Academic’, History of Education Society Annual Conference (2022)
  • ‘Paper Boats and Research Notes: Re-evaluating the autobiography of E.M.Butler’, Bearing Untold Stories Conference, Lancaster University (2022)
  • ‘Let’s Talk Business: Literary Representations of Businesswomen in mid-Nineteenth Century Britain’, Breaking Bounds Postgraduate Conference, University of Portsmouth (2019)