Directors and Lead researchers
Professor Peter Otto
Executive Director, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit (ERCC); Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, English and Theatre Studies, the University of Melbourne
Peter Otto has published widely on William Blake, Gothic Fictions, dark Romanticism, popular entertainments, the prehistory of virtual reality, and Romanticism and contemporary culture. Recent publications include Multiplying Worlds: Romanticism, Modernity, and the Emergence of Virtual Reality (OUP 2011); ‘Innovations in Encompassing Large Scenes’, an online exhibition housed in the Romantic Circles Gallery of Visual Culture (2013); and William Blake: Selected Works in the ‘21st Century Oxford Authors Series’ (2018). He is consultant editor of The Victorian Popular Culture Portal: Spiritualism, Sensation, and Magic. His current research interests include the history of imagination and of imagination-machines; the pasts and futures of virtual reality; the post-secular; and the exchanges between architecture, fiction, imagination, and experience.
Phone: +61 3 8344 5482
Professor Deirdre Coleman
Co-Director and Lead Researcher, ERCC; Robert Wallace Chair of English, English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Deirdre Coleman has published widely on the intersection of British Romantic literature with antislavery, natural history and colonialism. More recently she has been researching museum archives in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland for an ARC-funded Linkage project with the Australian Museum on the economics of the 19th-century natural history trade. She is also exploring the social history of collecting in Australia, looking in particular at the diverse community which produced knowledge about the natural world from earliest settlement onwards. Starting with the correspondence networks and journal publications of members of the Victorian Field Naturalists Club (established in the early 1880s), she examines the motives and interests of bushmen, commercial specimen dealers, amateur collectors and (from 1900 onwards) an increasing number of salaried museum professionals. Cross-cultural exchange between indigenous people and fieldwork collectors on the colonial frontier, especially in far north Queensland and the Northern Territory, forms another part of this project, the aim of which is to achieve a wider understanding of Australia’s natural heritage and environmental history.
Phone: +61 3 8344 5496
Professor Clara Tuite
Co-Director and Lead Researcher, ERCC; English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Clara Tuite works in the literary and cultural history of Romanticism, with a particular interest in the work of Jane Austen and Lord Byron. Her research engages eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantic literature and culture from the perspectives of the history of the literary institution, sociability, fashion, history of emotions and sexuality studies, as well as the endurance of literary and popular Romanticisms in the contemporary moment.
Phone: +61 3 8344 4216
Professor Mark Davis
Co-Director and Lead Researcher, ERCC; Publishing and Communications, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Mark Davis’ current research focuses on online ‘anti-publics’ and extreme online discourse, Australian digital literary cultures and taste making, changing media ecologies and the cultural politics of gatekeeping and disintermediation, Australian public culture, and media representations of young people. The first of my two current research projects focuses on post-digital literary cultures and the destabilisation of the literary-print cultural field by digital media. My second project focuses on online anti-publics, such as the alt-right, neo-reactionary (NRx) groups, anti-vaccination groups, anti-climate-science groups, and white nationalist groups, who use digital media to create communities that position themselves against basic democratic, scientific, and enlightenment principles.
Phone: +61 3 8344 3349
Professor Vedi Hadiz
Co-Director and Lead Researcher, ERCC; Director and Professor of Asian Studies at the Asia Institute, the University of Melbourne
Vedi Hadiz's research interests revolve around political sociology and political economy issues, especially those related to the contradictions of development in Indonesia and Southeast Asia more broadly, and more recently, in the Middle East. Professor Hadiz’s latest book is entitled Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East (Cambridge University Press 2016). His other books include Localising Power in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia: A Southeast Asia Perspective (Stanford University Press 2010) as well as the co-edited Between Dissent and Power: The Transformation of Islamic Politics in the Middle East and Asia (Palgrave Macmillan 2014).
Professor Anne McLaren
Lead Researcher, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit (ERCC)
Anne McLaren is a Professorial Fellow at the Asia Institute University of Melbourne.
Trained as a sinologist at the Australian National University, she is internationally known for her research into the relationship between Chinese oral performance traditions and print culture in the late imperial era. She has also published on Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage and served as Research Fellow at the Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage at East China Normal University, Shanghai. She is the author or editor of eight books and numerous other studies on a range of topics relating to the cultural history and literature of China in the early modern period. In 2010 she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities for her pioneering work on the oral and ritual culture of Chinese women.
Her latest book, Slow Train to Democracy: Memoirs of Life in Shanghai, 1978 to 1979 (2020), offers insight into China’s democracy movement at the start of the reform era. Her books include Performing Grief: Bridal Laments in Rural China (2008), Chinese Women Living and Working (2004), Dress, Sex and Text in Chinese Culture (co-edited with Antonia Finnane, 1999) and Chinese Popular Culture and Ming Chantefables (1998).
Dr Anita Archer
Research Associate, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit, Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne
Anita Archer is an art historian whose research focus is contemporary art markets, with interest in the changing dynamics of primary and secondary markets, the evolving domination of multinational auction houses and the networked activities of art world intermediaries in the translocation of art globally. Anita’s PhD thesis examined the emerging market for Chinese Contemporary Art in the West and her recent focus is the role of Singapore as an art market hub for Southeast Asia. Anita’s research interest stems from her extensive work experience in the global art field as an international auctioneer and independent art consultant specialising in Asian contemporary art.
Professor Trevor Burnard
Associate Director, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit; Professor, Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull
Trevor Burnard is a scholar of early American, imperial, world and Atlantic history, with a special interest in plantation societies in the New World and their connections to eighteenth-century modernity. Particular interests include slavery, social history and demography, imperialism, economic and business history, and gender. His work over the last decade has been especially concerned with identity in the New World in the eighteenth century and with how settler societies have been formed, or have failed to form in plantation societies in the Caribbean and the Chesapeake.
Associate Professor Justin Clemens
Academic, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Justin Clemen’s work focuses primarily on the relationships between poetry, psychology and philosophy in Romantic and post-Romantic writing. He has written extensively on figures such as Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Alain Badiou, as well as on themes of slavery and technology. His recent books include What is Education? (Edinburgh UP 2017), edited with A.J. Bartlett and The Afterlives of Georges Perec (Edinburgh UP 2017), edited with Rowan Wilken.
Photo credit: Nicholas Walton-Healey
Dr Thomas H. Ford
Lecturer in English, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University
Thomas Ford’s work focuses on poems and other texts from Romanticism and the long eighteenth century. He reads this archive in the historicist traditions of philological materialism, and in light of the transdisciplinary imperatives of the environmental humanities. Ford calls this approach ‘ecophilology’ (a discipline that explores the role of textual environments in various settings, in all kinds of media, from the ancient cave drawings and graffiti to the contemporary electronic media). You can read about it in his book, Wordsworth and the Poetics of Air (Cambridge University Press, April 2018).
Dr Sean Gaston
Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College Oxford (2017-2018), Emeritus Reader in English, Brunel University, London, and Honorary Research Fellow, the University of Melbourne
I am exploring ‘the eighteenth century origins of modernity’. I have focused on concepts of disinterest, sympathy and pity, as well as fictions of imprudence and the invention of the literary character. I am now working on concepts of world in British Romanticism, Revolutionary America and the ‘Atlantic World’.
Dr Ben Gook
Lecturer in Cultural Studies, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Ben Gook’s current research focuses on alienation and disaffection in contemporary culture (post-1989). He has written on emotions and affects (melancholy, ecstasy and ambivalence), Germany (social, cultural, economic and psychic history) and Australia (postcolonial cinema). His book Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-unified Germany after 1989 (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015) is a psychoanalytically informed study of the complicated process of re-unifying Germany after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. He has forthcoming publications on collectivity, transindividuality, libidinal economy and alienation.
Professor Charles Green
Professor of Contemporary Art, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Charles Green is an authority in contemporary international and Australian art, on biennials and exhibition histories, and on artist collaborations. His books include Biennials, Triennials and Documenta: The Exhibitions that Created Contemporary Art (2016, co-authored with Anthony Gardner), The Third Hand: Artist Collaborations from Conceptualism to Postmodernism (2001), and Peripheral Vision: Contemporary Australian Art 1970-94 (1995). He has been awarded several ARC grants and was Adjunct Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria (2001-2006), leading large curatorial teams who produced major exhibitions, including the inaugural, museum-wide installation of modern and contemporary Australian art at NGVA Federation Square (Fieldwork, 2001) as an outcome of an ARC Large Grant. He is also an artist, having worked in collaboration with Lyndell Brown as one artist since 1989; their works are in most Australian art museum collections and they were Australia’s Official War Artists in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.
Dr Elias Greig
Research Assistant, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit, Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne
Elias Greig’s work considers the interaction between artistic and political representation, with a particular interest in the effects of democracy on literary form, from the eighteenth century to the present.
Dr Steven Hampton
Steven Hampton continues to inhabit two distinctly separate worlds: firstly, research into the multilingual and transnational nature of cultural and literary production during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe, in particular the interrelations between literatures in English, French and German, with a focus on the national epic as it was reconstructed, rediscovered or invented during the Age of Revolutions. Secondly, the hands-on design and construction of complex computer software systems for educational institutions in the present day, including the use of artificial intelligence. Both of these worlds require the application of critique, creativity and comparison but find their deepest synergies in the invention, discovery and construction of "actual, mixed and virtual realities".
Dr Alexandra Hankinson
Research Assistant, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit, Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne
Alexandra Hankinson’s research focuses on the literary and cultural history of biological thought and phenomena from the Enlightenment to the present. Her doctoral thesis explored the cross-section between figurative and scientific thought in the botany and zoology of the long eighteenth century, with emphasis given to the way in which observation and analogy came together in this period to uncover and explain the affinities of living objects. She has published on the poetic and scientific history of insect pollination in Romanticism (2019) and is currently working on an online exhibition for the Romantic Circles Gallery of Visual Culture on hybrid and interspecific relationships. Her present research interests include the co-functioning of art and science in the discovery and description of camouflage and mimicry; histories of biodiversity and ecology in Australia; field notes; imaginative and scientific responses to avian migration; and seasonality and harvest in Romantic art and literature.
Dr Jodi Heap
School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Jodie’s research focuses on Western philosophical conceptions of the imagination and the imaginary from Aristotle to Castoriadis. Her PhD thesis, titled The Imagination. The Seed of Indeterminacy in the Writings of Kant, Fichte and Castoriadis, offered a scholarly elucidation of the notion of the imagination and the imaginary as well as provided a new way of thinking about the imagination as an embodied power of formation and of creation fundamental to both the ontology of being and of ways of being. Her area of research also explores the role of the imagination and the imaginary in relation to the concepts of creation and creativity, and in relation to creative forms of thinking and of practice, both at the level of the individual and society. Jodie has a particular interest in the ERCC project ‘Creativity, Critique, Innovation’ and has contributed to the ERCC seminar series in her seminar titled, Unleashing the Creative Imagination in the Domains of the Humanities, Science and Art.
Dr James Jiang
School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
James Jiang’s research traces the residues of Romantic thought in modern and contemporary British and American writing. His recent articles on William James and Marianne Moore draw out the implications for literary modernism and philosophical pragmatism of concepts such as style and character – concepts which assume their modern shape in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. James is currently at work on a project entitled Sage Modernism that explores the intersection between pragmatist poetics and therapeutic culture.
Dr Claire Knowles
Senior Lecturer in English Literature, La Trobe University, Melbourne
Claire Knowles has published numerous articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women writers. Her book, Sensibility and Female Poetic Tradition, 1780-1860: The Legacy of Charlotte Smith, was published by Ashgate in 2009 and she also recently edited, with Ingrid Horrocks, Charlotte Smith: Major Poetic Works (Broadview, 2017.) She is currently working on a project on newspaper poetry and popular literary culture in the Romantic period titled, "Romanticism, Newspapers, and the Democratization of Poetry, 1785-1810."
Dr Scarlet Luk
Scarlet Luk’s work toggles between two somewhat distinct lines of inquiry: the intersection between narrative and queer/trans theory, and more recently, the relationship between financialisation and critical race and migration studies in the transpacific. She hopes to one day reconcile the two. Since completing her PhD at Yale, Scarlet has been daylighting as a high school English teacher.
Dr Elizabeth McLean
School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Elizabeth McLean’s research ranges from the Romantic period through to the contemporary, with a strong focus on processes of fictionality and genres of storytelling. She received her PhD in 2019 for her thesis, “The Topographical Parenthesis: Articulations of Space in the Novels of Henry James.” She is currently working on a trans-historical account of women’s literary journalism from the Enlightenment through to the present. This study is structured by four discrete episodes, that each present a composite of ideological and technological transformations vital to the professionalisation of literariness, journalism, and female authorship. These periods are: 1780s; 1890s; 1970s; Now. In a period of precarity for practitioners of both journalism and literary studies, this study looks to the late eighteenth century, and specifically to reportage of the French revolution, for a pre-history of the interdisciplinary form of literary journalism. In its veneration of both truth and form, literary journalism embodies the dualism of critique and creativity so essential to the relationship between Enlightenment and Romantic ideologies.
Professor Ian McLean
Hugh Ramsay Chair of Australian Art History, the University of Melbourne
Ian McLean has published extensively on Australian art and particularly Indigenous art. Since the late eighteenth century the Australian colonies have been a privileged site of Enlightenment endeavours in science, art and literature – as Bernard Smith convincingly discussed in European Vision and the South Pacific (1960). As a student of Smith, Ian’s research has consistently explored the shadow of the Enlightenment in Australia and its histories.
Dr Marc Mierowsky
McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Marc Mierowsky’s research ranges broadly across period and genre, but is unified by the drive to investigate questions of collective identity and uncover the cultural dimensions of citizenship. He is one of the editors of Daniel Defoe’s Correspondence (along with Nicholas Seager and Andreas Mueller) forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, and editor (along with Nicholas Seager) of Defoe’s Roxana, forthcoming with Oxford World’s Classics. His interest in Enlightenment thought and literature coheres around questions of sovereignty, naturalisation and constitutionality, the emergence of common-sense philosophy and theories of intersubjectivity. He is currently working on two discrete but overlapping projects: a narrative history of the group of spies whose work helped bring Scotland into an incorporated Union with England in 1707 and a cultural history of naturalisation in Britain and the Australian colonies. In recent work he has focused on the enlightenments of Eastern Europe, with particular emphasis on the Haskalah (or Jewish Enlightenment) and its influence on contemporary literature, ethics and stand-up comedy.
Professor Jennifer Milam
Research Associate, Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit, Faculty of Arts, the University of Melbourne; Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic Excellence, the University of Newcastle, Australia
Jennifer Milam’s research interests focus on understanding how the visual arts during the eighteenth century expressed philosophical ideas that rivalled the exposition of Enlightenment concepts in texts. Arguably what changed from the mid-eighteenth century onwards was broader exposure to ‘big ideas’ in visual form. Enlightenment ideas enjoyed wider circulation and cultural uptake through public exhibitions of art works that engaged audiences in interpretive response to aspects of the Enlightenment project. As a former Co-Director of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Contemporary Culture Research Unit (ERCC), Milam used her expertise in exactly this area to provide input into the research program of the ERCC by keeping this aspect of the Enlightenment in focus and elaborating upon its legacy in the contemporary culture sector.
Dr Sonja Molnar
Lecturer in Media and Communications, the University of Melbourne
Sonja Molnar received her PhD in English Applied Linguistics from the University of Salzburg, where she taught courses on media discourse for six years. Thereafter she was a postdoctoral research assistant at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Her main research areas include advertising discourse, sustainability communications, multimodality, and media linguistics. Her doctoral dissertation, which explores the verbal and visual changes in British, American and Australian print advertisements from the late seventeenth century to the present, will be published as part of the series Routledge Studies in Multimodality in 2021. Her current research project examines how environmental news is communicated in the mainstream media.
Dr Philip Pond
Lecturer in Digital Media Research Methods, the University of Melbourne
Philip Pond specialises in the study of software systems and their influence on the production of meaning, especially in politics. He is lead investigator on a Special Research Initiative investigating the relationship between between digital media and tendency for conversations to become extreme quickly and, more broadly, he investigates the relationship between digital speed and destabilising communication. He is author of two books. Digital Media and Making of Network Temporality (2021) explains how time can be reconfigured in digital systems with disruptive consequences. Complexity, Digital Media and Post-Truth Politics (2020) proposes a framework for studying destabilising interactions between the digital and political systems.
Associate Professor John Rundell
Principal Fellow, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor in Philosophy, La Trobe University, Melbourne
John Rundell’s research focuses on the problems of the imagination, creativity and modernity. As ERCC Research Fellow he is especially interested in the themes of ‘Critique, Creativity, Comparison’ and ‘Worldiness, Cosmopolitanism, Globalisation’. His publications include Origins of Modernity; Imaginaries of Modernity; Aesthetics and Modernity Essays by Agnes Heller; Rethinking Imagination (with Gillian Robinson); Blurred Boundaries(with Rainer Bauboeck), and ‘Creating Social Theory: Enlightenment, Romanticism, Revolution’ in The Handbook for Social Theory edited by George Ritzer and Barry Smart. He is currently completing a book on the work of Immanuel Kant entitled Kant and Critical Theories before turning to another entitled The Creative Imagination: From Kant to Castoriadis and Beyond.
Dr Thomas Vranken
Killam Postdoctoral Research Fellow, the University of British Columbia
Thomas Vranken’s research explores nineteenth-century literature’s relationship with automata and automation more broadly. He is currently coediting a collection of essays (Living Automata: Mechanism and Automatism in Victorian Culture) and working on a second monograph (Writing Machines: Experiments with Literary Form in the Second Industrial Revolution). His first monograph examined nineteenth-century periodical culture (Literary Experiments in Magazine Publishing: Beyond Serialisation, Routledge 2020). He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne.
Professor Angela Ndalianis
Director, Centre for Transformative Media Technologies, Swinburne University of Technology
Angela Ndalianis is a Research Professor of Media and Entertainment, and Director of the Centre for Transformative Media Technologies at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research takes an interdisciplinary approach to entertainment media technologies, their histories and how they mediate our experience of the world – on embodiment, the senses and perception. Her publications include Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment (2004), Science Fiction Experiences (2010), The Horror Sensorium: Media and the Senses (2012); and the edited books – The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero (2009); Neo-baroques: From Latin America to the Hollywood Blockbuster (co-edited, 2016); Fans and Videogames: Histories, Fandom, Archives (co-edited, 2017), and The Superhero Symbol (co-edited, 2019).
Dr Miranda Stanyon
ARC DECRA Research Fellow, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Miranda Stanyon’s research focuses on enlightenment and Romantic era literature in Britain and Germany and takes a comparative approach to aesthetics, as a key field in constructing the post-enlightenment human subject and configuring its relationships with nature. She has published on the sublime, music and sound, emotions history, and visual culture.
Dr Phil Habil Jennifer Wawrzinek
Freie Universität Berlin
Jennifer Wawrzinek’s research focuses on the intersections between the political and the ethical in literature and culture of the Romantic and post-Romantic eras. She recently completed a monograph entitled Beyond Identity: Romanticism and Decreation, which investigates modes of decreation in British Romanticism as a response to the political and ethical crises of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Jennifer recently edited, together with Lisa O’Connell (UQ), a special issue of the journal Postcolonial Studies which investigated the ways in which global movements and colonial contact in the long eighteenth century can be seen to have transformed or reinvented European literature and culture of the period. She is currently developing a new research project which aims to investigate Romantic models of relationality in which (human) being is conceived as embedded within a world that is not only biological, but techno-ecological as well. This project is particularly interested in the human-animal-machine formations of William Blake.
Early career researchers
Dr Callum Reid
Associate of the School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne
Callum Reid is an art historian whose research fields include museology, printmaking, early modern art and decorative arts, with a particular focus on the formation of collections and their reception. Callum is further interested in the history and provenance of objects, having also spent several years working in the art market and collecting institutions. Adapted from his PhD, his upcoming monograph Collecting and display in the Uffizi Gallery: Art in the age of the grand dukes (Routledge, 2021) is a museological study into Florence’s state gallery, and its early incarnations under the control of Medici and Lorraine grand duchies (1580-1859). Callum's research into 18th and 19th century museums aligns with the ERCC theme of Critique, Creativity, Comparison, as collectors and administrators toyed between the new trend of didactic arrangements and the self-representation of aesthetic displays.
Tutor, Master of Art Curatorship, and PhD Candidate (Art History), School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne
Louise is an educator, arts historian, and curator. Her current research is focussed on the acquisition, assembly, and categorisation of prints collected by Elizabeth Seymour Percy, 1st Duchess of Northumberland (1716-1776). Her other research interests include English eighteenth-century furniture; the collection and display of prints; the material culture of the English country house; the commerce of collecting; and the history of the book. In 2018, Louise was the Harold Wright and Sarah and William Holmes Scholar at the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, London. She has also been awarded a Paul Mellon Research Support Grant and a Francis Haskell Memorial Fund Scholarship to undertake research in collections and archives in the UK, Europe and the USA. Louise’s recent publications include: “Marks and Meanings: Revealing the Hand of the Collector and “the Moment of Making” in two 18th-Century Print Albums”, Journal18, Fall, 2018; and a book chapter in Kerrianne Stone (ed.) Horizon Lines, Marking 50 Years of Print Scholarship, Melbourne, 2019. Louise’s research on English print rooms will be published in Eighteenth-Century Life (forthcoming, 2021).
PhD candidate in English Literature, Flinders University, Adelaide
Todd Dearing’s work focuses on Romantic ideas of the human and conceptions of imagination, creativity, and genius. He explores how these ideas impact upon contemporary literary criticism and contemporary ideas of the human. He is currently completing his doctorate thesis on the trope of the daimon in William Blake’s magnum opus, Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, read as an allegory for literary practice. His broader research interests include English and German Romantic literature, art, and philosophy, (post)humanism, contemporary literary criticism, poetry, mythopoeia, and the links between psychology and literature. Todd is interested in the ERCC themes ‘Creativity, Critique, Comparison’ and ‘Actual, Mixed, and Virtual Realities’, and the ERCC research projects ‘Critique, Creativity, Innovation’, ‘William Blake and the History of Imagination’, and ‘Gothic Fictions’.
PhD Candidate and Teaching Associate, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University
Alice Capstick’s work focusses on the development of alternative heroic archetypes in the Romantic period. In particular, her work traces how the figure of the Satanic hero developed into a fully established archetype in the Romantic period. She examines how Romantic perception of Satan from John Milton’s Paradise Lost and other archetypal heroic figures informed their own experimentation with “dark heroes.” Alice is also interested in theories from the field of Literary Darwinism and how they can be used to understand and account for the enduring prevalence of certain types of dark heroes and people’s fascination with them. Her broader research interests include early modern poetry, aesthetic theory, gothic studies, and book history. Her work connects to ERRCC themes of dark Romanticism and anti-Enlightenment and because of her interest in how modern theories of the mind can be used to understand literary phenomena.
PhD candidate in Screen and Cultural Studies, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne
Corey Cribb specialises in film theory and the continental philosophy of film. Focusing on the film-philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Jean-Luc Nancy, his research considers the potential of modern cinema to perpetuate the non-mediated transformation of the world and occasion the ontological renewal of thought, bodies and ways of being-in-the-world. In part, this involves a consideration of the palpable influence of Maurice Blanchot’s literary ontology upon these thinkers, and the subsequent question of why Deleuze and Nancy maintain that the marked passivity (or worklessness) of modern cinema harbours unprecedented potential for ontological change and the restoration of belief in a world from which we are said to be absent. Beyond the notion of worklessness as “the most essential – the most romantic and the most modern – gesture in romanticism” (Watt, 2017, pp. 18), Corey’s research connects with the concerns of the ERCC by seeking to show how some of the most ground breaking developments in film theory today bear the influence of debates which can be traced back to German Idealism.
PhD Candidate in History, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne
Nat’s current research focuses on the experiences and influence of British expatriates living in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya) in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, highlighting their broad networks of material, cultural, and informational exchange throughout the Mediterranean world and eastern Atlantic, and how their reports and attitudes were presented to a wide audience through British newspapers. He is interested broadly in interactions between Protestant Europe and the Islamic world, media history, diplomacy, networking, material culture, religious and cultural dialogue, privateering, and piracy. Nat has published articles on English news representations of the Maghreb and on social connection and isolation in British communities in the Maghreb, and is currently working on projects relating to the Maghreb in Scottish and Irish literature, on British maritime paintings and maps of the southern Mediterranean, and on the diffusion of Morocco leather in the British luxury bookbinding and upholstery trades. Since April 2020, Nat has been the postgraduate representative (Australia) to the ANZAMEMS committee.
PhD Candidate in Art Theory and History, School of Media, Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University
Marguerite Gibson focuses on nineteenth century Australian colonial art, particularly in relation to the themes of aesthetics, landscape and the emotional traditions of the sublime. Currently, her research project is investigating the utilization of the sublime through motifs, nuances and Australian landscape depiction within art, representing the emotional experiences of the historical period of the Gold Rush era, 1850-1900. Through the primary texts of Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant, along with the contemporary concept of the colonial sublime, she explores the relationship between these ideas, termed the Australian colonial sublime within the research. She currently has a book chapter forthcoming within Song of Death in Paradise: Death and Garden Narratives in Literature, Art and Film, edited by Feryal Cubukcu and Sabine Planka (Lexington Books), entitled “Wilderness Garden: Death, Landscape and the Australian Colonial Sublime”. Her research and interests relate to several ERCC themes, particularly Critique, Creativity, Comparison and Worldliness, Cosmopolitanism, Globalisation.
PhD candidate in English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Rohan specialises in literary genre theory and the gothic fictions of late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century Britain, considered as material practices involving a number of stakeholders in the changing print economy following the consumer revolution. His current research explores the role of the Minerva Press in the emergence of the gothic as a genre, considering its publishing output and marketing practices as attempts to cultivate a reliable readership by supplying readers with a particular sort of imaginary world. This use of genre serves as an important precursor to the marriage of marketing and textual immersion that would come to characterise the genre fictions of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Rohan’s focus on the romantic nostalgia of gothic worlds, put to work in the consumer economy through its ability to generate immersive virtual environments, connects his work to several ERCC themes, including Critique, Creativity, Comparison and Actual, Mixed and Virtual Realities.
PhD candidate in English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne
Esmé James’ work traces an aesthetic experience she has termed the ‘sexual sublime’ across a range of literature from the eighteenth to early twentieth century, investigating the social and ethical implications of the transforming relationship between erotism and the sublime aesthetic. She begins with the pornographic literary traditional of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, believing it particularly apt at engaging aesthetic discourse due to the latter’s palpable erotic undercurrent. Placing the works of theorists – such as Edmund Burke, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant – in conversation with novelists – such as John Cleland, Marquis de Sade, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch – Esmé aims to demonstrate how these works illuminate and mutually complicate their ideas. Proceeding from here, she considers how the works of Rachilde and Kate Chopin subsequently disrupted dominant understandings of aesthetics and sexuality – instead, creating a space to express a space which exists within, and derives pleasure from, a zone of unconquerable excess.
Esmé currently has a journal article forthcoming in Hecate entitled, "Celebrating Enigmas: Re-Examining Gertrude Stein’s Relationship to the Literary Canon.” Her work will also be included in an anthology with Hardie Grant Press, Roots, set for publication in July 2021.
PhD candidate in English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne
Francesca Kavanagh specialises in eighteenth and nineteenth-century women’s reading and writing practices with a focus on material culture. She is also interested in the gothic and cultures of celebrity and fandom from Romanticism to the present. Her current project examines practices of letter-writing, annotation, and commonplacing from a range of women writers throughout the long eighteenth century and pairs this archival material with fictional accounts of these practices by Samuel Richardson and Jane Austen to elucidate the ways in which women in the long eighteenth-century used these textual practices in the production of textual and virtual spaces of intimacy. She currently has a journal article forthcoming in The Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies entitled “‘Marianne Knight | Godmersham Park’: Inscription as Community Interface in the Books of Jane Austen’s Niece”.
Francesca was on the organising committee for 'Distance 2020', an international postgraduate conference co-hosted by the University of York's Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies (CECS) and the ERCC. She is interested in a number of the ERCC’s current themes, including Actual Mixed and Virtual Realities and Worldliness, Cosmopolitanism, Globalisation, as well as opportunities for future collaborations.
PhD candidate in Arabic, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne
Tarek researches the content and context of traditions of philology with a particular emphasis on the Arabic tradition. Philology here is used in the traditional sense of studying texts and thus encompasses a broad array of activities including grammar, codicology, hermeneutics (in its broad meaning), literary criticism, and history. Tarek reads these philological works embedded in their socio-intellectual context, often revealing counter-intuitive results. His current project investigates the flow of Arabic philological learning from Islamic Spain to Egypt and the Levant in the 13th and 14th centuries. While maintaining his interest in the breadth of the ERCC’s themes and activities, Tarek is focused on two themes: ‘Non-European Enlightenments and Romanticisms’ and ‘Worldliness, Cosmopolitanism, Globalisation’. He is also currently working with ERCC researchers to put together a seminar series on Islamic Enlightenments.
PhD Candidate in Art History, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne
Belinda Scerri’s research explores French Rococo interior ornament, patronage and the ascendancy of ornémaniste artists in early eighteenth-century Paris. Her broader research interests include: the South Sea Bubble, Système Law and economic collapse of 1720 through an art historical lens; early modern collecting and commissioning cultures; mercantilism and the establishment of Royal manufactories; exoticism and cosmopolitanism in French Régence art and architecture. She is a founding member of the Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) doctoral academy and a 2019/2020 research fellow at the UCLA Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Studies. She is currently writing a book chapter entitled ‘“Instructing herself by fad or fancy”: Depictions and Fictions of Female Connoisseurs in Eighteenth-century Paris’ which will appear in Portraits & Poses: Representations of Female Intellectual Authority, Agency and Authorship in Early Modern and Enlightenment Europe (Leuven and Cornell UP, 2020).
Dr Adrian Schober
MA candidate in the School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne
Adrian Schober’s research examines the role of Romanticism in the films of American director Steven Spielberg. He addresses this influence across a range of films, from the early to later part of Spielberg’s career, giving special attention to his studies of children and childhood. He positions the director as a late-Romantic to acknowledge how motifs and ideas within Romanticism continue to reassert themselves within contemporary culture. Adrian, who has a PhD in English from Monash University, is the author of Possessed Child Narratives in Literature and Film (Palgrave, 2004), and co-editor (with Debbie Olson) of Children in the Films of Steven Spielberg (Lexington, 2016) and Children, Youth, and American Television (Routledge, 2018). He is having a monograph published on The Omen for the Devil’s Advocates series by Auteur / Liverpool University Press. He is Senior Editor on the board of Red Feather: An International Journal of Children in Popular Culture.
PhD Candidate in English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne
Hugh Sinclair’s work focuses on Romantic poetry and the history of the scholarly edition. He is currently working on a comparative study of the editions of poets William Blake and Friedrich Hölderlin. This project looks at the changes brought about as digital media replace books as the repository of cultural memory, and the ways in which the advent of digital scholarly editions is recasting the role of the scholarly editor. By closely examining the inner workings of these editions, and by paying attention to the various technologies and editorial methodologies that underwrite them, this study reconstructs an editorial politics in relation to each poet that is ultimately a politics of cultural memory. An interest in the legacies of Romanticism in the present connects Hugh’s work to the concerns of the ERCC, particularly to themes of Critique, Creativity, Comparison and Actual, Mixed and Virtual Realities.
PhD candidate and Teaching Associate, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne
Samuel Watts researches and writes about the experiences of African Americans in the Deep South during Reconstruction. His focus is on how formerly enslaved people interpreted ideas of freedom and citizenship in violently contested urban spaces, while working to construct and maintain lasting communities and networks. Additionally, Samuel is broadly interested in the historical legacies of racial discourse in the US, Australia and beyond. He currently has a book chapter in peer-review, entitled: “Reconstruction Justice: African American Police Officers in Charleston and New Orleans,” in Freedom’s Gained and Lost: Reinterpreting Reconstruction in the Atlantic World, eds. Simon Lewis and Adam Domby (New York: Fordham University Press, 2019 – forthcoming). He is interested in a number of ERCC projects, most notably those focused on slavery, and has an ongoing interest in the legacies of Enlightenment thought in debates about race, citizenship and revolution.
Creativity and Wellbeing Hallmark Research Initiative (CAWRI), University of Melbourne
Modell Romantik Research Training Group, Friedrich-Schiller University Jena