Graduate researchers

Joshua Barnes photo
Joshua Barnes

Joshua Barnes

PhD candidate in English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne.

Joshua Barnes’ research is concerned with the development of the novel form across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and with the uses of “totality” as a concept in literary theory. How do literary texts deal with abstract concepts, systems that defy comprehension, collectivities so large that they cannot be fixed in the mind? To explore this question, this project develops new readings of canonical authors—including Daniel Defoe, Laurence Sterne, Jane Austen and Henry James—alongside other figures working in marginal, quasi- or proto-novelistic narrative forms. Indexing debates within Marxist theories of literature, this research also points towards the interests of the ERCC: to the contemporary legacies of Romantic aesthetics and notions of the Absolute, for example, and to the ongoing arguments about globalisation and the possibility of a world literature.

Email: jbarnes2@student.unimelb.edu.au

Alice Capstick
Alice Capstick

Alice Capstick

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.

Alice was on the organising committee for 'Resilience, Renewal, Recovery', an international postgraduate conference co-hosted by the University of York's Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies (CECS) and the ERCC in 2021.

Email: Alice.Capstick@monash.edu

Corey Cribb
Corey Cribb

Corey Cribb

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.

Email: ccribb@student.unimelb.edu.au

Nat Cutter
Nat Cutter

Nat Cutter

Teaching Associate (Periodic) and ARC Research Coordinator, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies and School of Culture and Communication, 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 seventeenth and 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, information flows between Britain and the Maghreb, and on social connection and isolation in British communities in the Maghreb. His research has been funded by the Huntington Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, ANZAMEMS and the University of Melbourne. He is currently working on projects relating to the reception of the Maghreb in English, Scottish and Irish print, on the diffusion of Morocco leather in the British luxury bookbinding and upholstery trades, and on the importance of exilic theology as a framework for processing Protestant life in the Islamic Mediterranean.

Email: nat.cutter@unimelb.edu.au

Marguerite Gibson
Marguerite Gibson

Marguerite Gibson

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. Marguerite was on the organising committee for 'Resilience, Renewal, Recovery', an international postgraduate conference co-hosted by the University of York's Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies (CECS) and the ERCC in 2021.

Email: m.gibson@postgrad.curtin.edu.au

Samantha Happe photo
Samantha Happe

Samantha Happé

PhD Candidate and Graduate Research Teaching Fellow in Art History, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.

Samantha Happé specialises in the role of the gift in negotiating diplomatic relationships during the long eighteenth century. Her doctoral thesis examines the visual and material culture surrounding the Persian embassy to Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV in 1715, with a particular focus on the gifts as they travelled between cultural spheres that lacked a common symbolic vocabulary. Her research privileges the objects of exchange as being crucial and active tools of cross-cultural mediation, creating a new diplomatic history that considers the gifts as well as allowing for the performative aspects of the diplomatic encounter. Samantha is also working as a Research Officer at the Centre of Art History and Theory at ANU on a project mapping patterns of cultural exchange between France and non-European countries during the ancien régime, with an emphasis on Louis XIV prints and medals. Samantha’s research connects with several ERCC themes including Worldliness, Cosmopolitanism, Globalisation, and non-European Enlightenments and Romanticisms.

Email: s.happe@unimelb.edu.au

Rohan Harrison
Rohan Harrison

Rohan Harrison

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.

Email: r.harrison@student.unimelb.edu.au

Esmé James
Esmé James

Esmé James

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. Esme was on the organising committee for 'Resilience, Renewal, Recovery', an international postgraduate conference co-hosted by the University of York's Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies (CECS) and the ERCC in 2021.

Email: esmej@student.unimelb.edu.au

Francesca Kavanagh
Francesca Kavanagh

Francesca Kavanagh

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.

Email: f.kavanagh@student.unimelb.edu.au

Tarek Makhlouf
Tarek Makhlouf

Tarek Makhlouf

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.

Email: tarekm@student.unimelb.edu.au

Pierre Palayan photo
Pierre Palayan

Pierre Palayan

PhD Candidate in Art History, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.

Pierre Palayan’s research explores the role of porcelain in assessing the questions of what the Ottoman Empire meant to Western Europeans and how European powers represented Ottoman culture and politics during the eighteenth century. The research examines the political engagement between Europe and the Ottoman empire by focusing on the image of the Ottomans as portrayed by small-scale sculptures and other objects, and by considering the relationship between porcelain and the cultures associated with the aristocratic courts, turquerie and cosmopolitanism, and its significance within discourses having to do with geopolitics and nationalism.

Email: jeanpierre.palayan@student.unimelb.edu.au

Mona Rahimpour
Mona Rahimpour

Mona Rahimpour

PhD candidate in English and Theatre Studies, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne

Mona Rahimpour’s research focuses on a trend in the contemporary global novel which engages with the accelerative precarity of human futures. What she identifies under the new conceptual cluster of Doom Lit projects imminent planetary threats into unsettlingly near futures, where human subjects struggle to adapt to acute ontological and existential disruption. She proposes to read these works in line with the relationality between their distinct aesthetic properties—what they are—and their affective qualities—what they do to the reader. Her methodology responds to Doom Lit as a site of attachment and material possibility as she considers doom in contemporary fiction to examine the relationship between the fictional depictions of the human ‘ends’ and the lived, material experiences of the present. Significantly, the plurality of ‘ends’ acknowledges diverse temporalities that prefigure human finality. This includes Indigenous knowledge (e.g. in Wright’s The Swan Book), refugee imaginaries (e.g. in Lanchester’s The Wall) and pandemic narratives (e.g. in McKay’s Animals in That Country). In so doing, she attends to nuances of heterogeneous imaginaries of the Global South with fundamental, and often subversive, ontological differences to what the end of the world may look like.  Mona’s research connects with the concerns of ERCC in its focus on worldliness, cosmopolitanism and globalization and its involvement with the genealogy of aesthetic preoccupation with doom which she traces to the “Romantic climate”, exemplified in Byron’s Darkness and Mary Shelley’s figure of The Last Man. 

Mona is an Erasmus Mundus alum and has a journal article forthcoming entitled “Intertextuality and Oneiric Futurity in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea”.

Email: mrahimpour@student.unimelb.edu.au

Belinda Scerri
Belinda Scerri

Belinda Scerri

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).

Email: bscerri@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au

Dr Adrian Schober
Dr Adrian Schober

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.

Email: aschober@student.unimelb.edu.au

Hugh Sinclair
Hugh Sinclair

Hugh Sinclair

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.

Email: h.sinclair@student.unimelb.edu.au

Samuel Watts
Samuel Watts

Samuel Watts

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.

Email: sjwatts@student.unimelb.edu.au