Nineteenth-Century Studies

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The Department of English has a number of teachers and researchers specialising in the Anglophone long nineteenth-century, encompassing projects from late sensibility novels and Romantic poetry and print culture to evolutionary science, from British empire to American fictions, from three-decker novels to fin-de-siecle aesthetics. This is a particularly rich field for interdisciplinary work: individual researchers draw on resources from art and theatre history, anthropology, cultural geography, history and postcolonial studies to explore developments in literary genre, rhetoric and authorship. Our explorations of the variegated nineteenth-century corpus combine close textual analysis with attention to the historical and cultural contexts of textual production and its readerships.

The University of Sydney is strong in resources for nineteenth-century studies. Fisher Library has databases in English Poetry, Prose and Verse Drama, the ProQuest Historical Newspapers collection and Times Digital Archive, and a collection of over 25,000 nineteenth-century works available on microfiche. It holds a strong collection of nineteenth-century periodicals on its open shelves, and the 'three-decker' collection of 1600 works of Victorian fiction, acquired by the Library in 1975-77, is an excellent resource for anyone working on the nineteenth-century novel. Fisher's periodical collection is augmented by the holdings of the State Library of New South Wales (the Mitchell Library). The slide and digital image archive of the Power Visual Resources Library and the holdings the John Schaeffer Fine Arts Library are invaluable on-campus art historical resources. The Art Gallery of New South Wales has a fine collection of nineteenth-century British art, and often has on loan works from John Schaeffer's important collection of Pre-Raphaelite and nineteenth-century Academic painting.

Members of this research group are also involved in the interdisciplinary study group The Nineteenth Century.

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ROBERT DIXON has long-standing research interests in the long nineteenth century, with a particular focus on Australian and post-colonial perspectives. His first published article (1977) was on aspects of the picturesque and was recently reprinted in NCLC (vol. 107). His books The Course of Empire (Oxford 1986) and Writing the Colonial Adventure (Cambridge 1995) deal with aspects of early nineteenth-century poetry and topographic art, and with empire fiction. He has published articles on nineteenth-century associationism, the picturesque, poetry and nostalgia, topographical landscapes, issues of gender and race (the 'New Woman' and the 'Coming Man'), and travel writing. His most recent publications have been on early photography and cinema, especially spirit photography, and early stage and screen practice, and are part of the forthcoming book Travelling Mass-Media Circus: Frank Hurley and Colonial Modernity.

BRUCE GARDINER's manifold nineteenth-century research and teaching interests encompass poetry and non-fiction prose in the British Isles and North America, including Anglo-Irish, Native American, and African American traditions, and especially pertaining to aesthetics, Biblical and general hermeneutics, historiography, evolutionary biology, and bibliography.

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DAVID KELLY teaches nineteenth-century American literature with a special interest in the politics of style and genre – especially biographical and romance forms – in and around the Civil War period. He has published essays on the 19th Century Gothic and Mark Twain, as well as a study of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. His current research concerns the role of the American anti-hero and cultural modulations and negotiations within the American romance form.

PETER KIRKPATRICK is interested in the everyday life of poetry in nineteenth century Australia; more particularly, the circulation and performance of verse within Victorian and Edwardian popular culture, and how this was mediated by journalism, elocution, the theatre, school education, eisteddfodau and parlour recitation. He has written on the poetry of Christopher Brennan and A.B. Paterson, and on the relationship between recitation and elocution.

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VANESSA SMITH's research encompasses the late-eighteenth- to late-nineteenth-centuries, and is informed by a particular engagement with histories and theories of Empire. She has published Literary Culture and the Pacific: nineteenth-century textual encounters, essays on Robert Louis Stevenson and Herman Melville, and co-edited books on nineteenth-century Oceanic travel and on the representation of islands. Her current research focuses on European discourses of friendship and emotionality in imperial encounter.

MATTHEW SUSSMAN's research focuses on the intersection of ethics and aesthetics in nineteenth-century literature and culture. He has written on the history of literary style, on the role of virtue theory in moral philosophy and criticism, on the rise of modern formalism, and on ethico-aesthetic categories such as the intelligent and the sincere. Figures of particular (and current) research interest include philosophers (Hume, Mill, Grote, Sidgwick, Green, and Bosanquet), critics (De Quincey, Ruskin, Arnold, Pater, and Wilde), and novelists (Thackeray, Trollope, Meredith, James, and Joyce, among others).

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