Victorian Period

The study of Victorian literature and culture has long been a particular strength of Oxford’s English Faculty, and we are currently producing some of the most exciting and innovative research in the field.

What do we do?

Our research and teaching covers the full range of Victorian writing. We are committed to working closely with literary texts: publishing editions of major Victorian writers, and writing criticism that attends carefully to matters of literary form and style. Although we have a diverse range of theoretical interests, we have distinctive strengths in the areas of literature and the history of ideas (including questions of literary value, aesthetics, and of readership and response), in the study of poetry, and in the literature of the fin de siècle. We are also the organizing force behind a very active cross-disciplinary hub for literature and science. We welcome enquiries from potential researchers who want to work in any area of Victorian literature and culture.

Where next?

Please see the webpages of individual Faculty members for more information on recent publications and current research projects. We are happy to answer enquiries from potential graduate students and anyone else who is interested in our work.

Our Teaching

At undergraduate level, the ‘Literature in English 1830-1910’ paper allows first-year students to engage with some of the greatest writing in the language from across the English-speaking world. Through a programme of lectures and seminars, we encourage every student to think critically and creatively about one of the most dynamic and surprising periods in the history of literature.

At graduate level, the 1830-1910 MSt programme provides students with a broad education in the period, together with the opportunity to take courses in areas of specialism with world-leading scholars. We also have many graduates studying for the DPhil (i.e. PhD) degree, who enjoy a vibrant research culture supported by Oxford’s unrivalled library resources.

Our Research

Many of us are involved in interdisciplinary research, which currently includes two large projects directed by Sally Shuttleworth: ‘Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives’ (funded by a five-year grant from the European Research Council); and ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’ (funded by a four-year grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council). We also work closely with colleagues at the Rothermere American Institute and TORCH to bring our research to as wide an audience as possible.

In recent years we have hosted many international conferences, including The Reception of Oscar Wilde in Europe (2008), Utopian Spaces (2010), Emily Dickinson’s Transatlantic Connections (2010), Dickens's Style (2011), 'A Stray Savage in Oxford': A Henry James Centenary Symposium (2012), Romanticism at the Fin de Siècle (2012), Edward Lear Bicentennial Conference (2012), Medicine and Modernity in the Long Nineteenth Century (2016) and Cosmopolis and Beyond: Literary Cosmopolitanism after the Republic of Letters (2016).

We also offer a diverse programme of seminars for Faculty members, graduate students, and visiting scholars. The Victorian Literature Graduate Seminar meets fortnightly and features leading international researchers. The Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Culture Forum welcomes all scholars and students who share an interest in the culture of the period. The American Literature Research Seminar frequently spotlights transatlantic cultural exchanges in the nineteenth century. The Science, Medicine and Culture in the Nineteenth Century Seminar meets regularly to discuss current research in this field.

News & resources

Diseases of Modern Life resources

The Diseases of Modern Life research project has a wide selection of podcasts and videos available. The project explores the medical, literary and cultural responses in the Victorian age to the perceived problems of stress and overwork, anticipating many of the preoccupations of our own era. Selected content is listed below; visit the project website to find all related content:

Constructing Scientific Communities

The Conversationalist podcast was created by the Constructing Scientific Communities research team. The first episodes are listed below; you can access all episodes on the ConSciCom website:

You can watch videos of talks, events and exhibitions held by the Constructing Scientific Communities research team on the project website at See some selected examples below, or click through to the project website to access all videos.