The Nineteenth-Century Study Group

This interdisciplinary study group welcomes scholars of the nineteenth century from across the Sydney area and is frequently joined by international visitors. Nineteenth-century studies is a particularly rich field for interdisciplinary work, drawing together resources from art and theatre history, anthropology, cultural geography, history, literary studies, philosophy, and postcolonial studies. Our explorations of the variegated nineteenth-century corpus combine close textual and visual analysis with attention to the historical and cultural contexts of artistic and intellectual production. Meetings, which take place several times per semester, are collaborative and informal, providing opportunities to deliver papers, workshop works-in-progress, and otherwise share knowledge about texts, images, and theory from our common field.


The group has two main objectives:

  • To cultivate a more consolidated sense of the nineteenth-century research field, and
  • To encourage interdisciplinary conversation that can in turn promote a richer sense of the culture of our research period and lead to new avenues for collaborative research.

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.

All meetings are held in the Rogers Room, N397, John Woolley Building A20, on Thursdays from 3-5pm. Coffee and tea provided.

For further information, or to join this group, please contact Matthew Sussman, .

Programme for Semester 1, 2018

Thursday March 22
Dr. David Larkin (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
"Man vs Wild: Strauss’s Alpine Symphony and Romantic Nature Representation”

Thursday April 19
Professor Penny Russell (Bicentennial Professor of Australian History, University of Sydney)
"A Draper’s Dozen? Sydney Stories? Family Enterprise? The Empire’s New Clothes? Faith, Family and Feeling? : Workshopping a Book Proposal on a Colonial, Commercial, Congregationalist Sydney Family.”

Thursday May 17
Sophie Frazer (English Department, University of Sydney)
“Jane Eyre and the Phenomenology of Loss”

Thursday June 7
Dr. Chris Murray (Literary Studies, Monash University)
"'Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay': Tennyson and China"

Programme for Semester 2, 2017

Thursday August 24
Dr. Benjamin Miller, Lecturer at the Writing Hub, University of Sydney
"Indigenous Rhetoric in the Colonial Archive: Myths and Legends from the Late Nineteenth Century"

Thursday September 21
Felicity Nanda Jarosz, HDR candidate in International and Comparative Literary Studies, University of Sydney
"The Aesthetics of Criticism: The Kantian Method"

Thursday October 19
Megan Nash, HDR candidate in English at the University of Sydney
"Eyes on the Page: The Science of Vision and the Visual Phenomenon of Reading in Dickens's Weeklies and Novels"

Thursday November 23
Dr. Briony Neilson, Lecturer in History and Criminology, University of New South Wales
"Ordinary Writing as Socio-cultural Crime: Criminal Writers in Nineteenth-Century France"

Programme for Semester 1, 2017

Thursday March 23
Professor Helen Groth (Associate Dean (Research) at the University of New South Wales)
"Listening to Nineteenth-Century Novels: the Case of Charlotte Brontë."

Thursday April 27
Kimberley Dimitriadis (University of Sydney)
"Telescopes in the Drawing-Room: Geometry and Astronomy in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss."

Thursday May 25
Associate Professor Tim Allender (History Department, University of Sydney)
"Empire Dystopias and Transnational Image Making, 1813-1922.”

Thursday June 22
Dr. Roisin Laing (Durham University) Visiting Research Fellow in English at the University of Sydney
"Nineteenth-Century Science and Art in Peter Pan.”

Programme for Semester 2, 2016

Thursday August 18
Dr Peter Stiles (Excelsia College, Sydney)
"Truth and Mendacity in 'The Manchester Marriage', by Elizabeth Gaskell"
Read the 'The Manchester Marriage' here

Thursday September 15
Dr David Larkin (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
"Between Present and Future: Progressive Composers and Their Audiences 1848-1914"

Thursday October 20
Dr Anne Jamison (Western Sydney University)
"'The enjoyment of a good story': Gender and Nation in Catherine Helen’s Spence’s Literature for Children"

Thursday November 17, 12-5pm
Second Annual Special Lunch and Event in Nineteenth Century Studies

Programme for Semester 1, 2016

Thursday, March 31
Dr. Alexander Bubb (King’s College London)
"Meeting Without Knowing It: the Intertwined Careers of Rudyard Kipling and W.B. Yeats”

Thursday, April 21
Dr. Catherine Moir (University of Sydney)
"Abysmal Humanity: Reading Woyzeck with Walter Benjamin”

Thursday, May 19
Dr. Michael Olson (Macquarie University)
“A Material Correlate of the Transcendental Unity of Apperception: Reconciling Nature and Consciousness in the Opus postumum (1796-1803)”

Thursday, June 16
Prof. Roslyn Jolly (University of New South Wales)
Henry James’s 1874 short story “Adina”

Programme for Semester 2, 2015

Thursday, August 20
Dr. Patrick Marland (University of Sydney), Topic To Be Announced

Thursday, September 17
Professor Patricia Plummer (Universität Duisburg-Essen)
"Rebellious Spirits: Louisa Haynes and the Arts & Crafts Movement in Birmingham”

Thursday, October 22
Professor Helen Groth (University of New South Wales)
"Late Victorian Phonographic Books from Paris to the Antipodes”

Thursday, November 5 - Special Event in Nineteenth-Century Studies
Roundtable and discussion – from 12pm in the John Woolley Common Room (L4, John Woolley Building)

Programme for Semester 1, 2015

Two Musician Girls

Thursday, April 23
Dr. Dalia Nassar, "Romantic Empiricism"

Thursday, May 21
Cressida Green, "Victorian Narratives of Female Rivalry"

Thursday, June 25
Associate Professor Mary Roberts, Istanbul Exchanges: Ottomans, Orientalists, and Nineteenth-Century Visual Cultures

Programme for Semester 2, 2014


August 14
Round Table: Letter Writing

September 18
Art and Writing

October 16
The Ocean World

November 13
The Gaskells and the King James Bible

Programme for Semester 1, 2014


March 20
Round Table: "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists"

April 17
Performance in Fancy Dress

May 15
Travel Writing

June 5
Carnival Theory and Children's Literature

Programme for Semester 1, 2013

woman and man

March 14

April 11
Casts and Copies

May 2
Sensationalist journalism

May 30

Programme for Semester 2, 2012

Possum climbing on lady

August 23
The Victorian Everyday

September 13
Zoological Sensations

October 4
Sexual Scandal

October 25
Ideas of Childhood

Programme for Semester 1, 2012


March 15
Invasive Species

April 12
Medicines and Treatments

May 10

June 7

Programme for Semester 2, 2011


August 11
Extreme Travel

September 1

September 29

October 27

Programme for Semester 1, 2011


March 24

April 21
'In the Blood?' /The Animal Matrix

May 12
Poverty and Population

June 2
Victorian feminisms

Programme for Semester 2, 2010


August 19

September 16

October 7

November 4

Programme for Semester 1, 2010

Food Chop

March 18

April 15

May 6

June 3

Programme for Semester 2, 2009


August 7
Cultures of Impermanence in Nineteenth Century Australia

4th September
The Gothic

9th October

13th November
Film Session 2

Programme for Semester 1, 2009


March 5
Unlikely Friendship

April 3
Elocution and Etiquette

May 1
Accidental Encounters

June 5
Film Session 1

Programme for Semester 2, 2008.


August 15
Surveying Landscape

September 5
Orientalism Revisited

October 3
The Body in Pain

November 14
Colonial Travel

Programme for Semester 1, 2008.

Jack the Ripper

Friday, April 4
Greg Dening's Theories of Ethnohistory

Wednesday, April 30
Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism

Friday, May 16

Wednesday, May 28
Crowds and Crime