I am a researcher in Science Communication, the History of Science & Literature, with a background in Communication and Media Science and Comparative Literature.

After completing my doctoral thesis on Dreams and Visions in Victorian Psychology and Fantastic Literature, which I established as primary medium to digest and communicate new scientific knowledge, its societal and epistemological implications, at Brasenose College, Oxford, I am currently a Research Associate in the Department for Sociology of the University of York, on the ECLAS Narratives of Science project.

I have taught for universities in the US, UK and Germany, and several Oxford Colleges, specialising in 19th & 20th century literature, Literature, Science and Religion, Children’s and Fantastic Literature, Science Fiction and Visual Culture. Besides my academic work, I am an active science communicator, working with national and interantional media, as well as with museums and schools.  I have been involved in a broad variety of school outreach projects, from media literacy, AI, climate change, to journalism, and English Literature.

(And just in case you’re anxious, it’s pronounced [fʁan.ˈʦɪs.ka] – or, Fran!)

My research:

My doctoral thesis explored the emergence of Victorian psychology and fantastic literature as sister phenomena through the work of the author-scientists George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley and H.G. Wells and their literary portrayal of visions experienced in dream, illness and near death. Considering these works in the wider framework of the Victorian history of science, I establish fantastic literature as a primary medium for ‘making visible’ epistemological debates of the nature of consciousness, and the nature of the soul, early ideas of the subconscious and dream theory to evolutionary psychology, thus challenging the perception of Fantasy as an escapist genre.

My research interests lie principally in the long nineteenth century, English, and European Literatures, but I am also interested in post-modernist multimedial re-imaginings. More specifically, my work covers the following areas:

  • Fantastic Literature, Science Fiction and Children’s Literature
  • Dreams and Visions, Spectres and Hallucinations
  • Illness Narratives, Death, Near-death, Dying, Suicide
  • Ecocriticism, Evironmental History, Cli-Fi, Ecology in Art & Design
  • The History of Technology, Automata, Automation and Society
  • The History of Science, Medicine, Psychology and Psychiatry

I have written on the work of the following authors and personalities (amongst others):

  • H. G. Wells, George MacDonald, Charles Kingsley, and Lewis Carroll
  • Robert Wilfred Skeffington Lutwidge, Hugh Welch Diamond
  • Gilbert & Sullivan, John Tenniel, Linley Sambourne
  • E.T.A Hoffmann, Novalis, J.W. von Goethe and Erich Kästner
  • William Morris, William de Morgan, John Ruskin, Octavia Hill

I am an expert on Lewis Carroll, and have published articles on various aspects of the work of Lewis Carroll, including ‘The stupidest Tea-Party in all my life: Lewis Carroll and Victorian Psychiatry’, the first in-depth exploration of the origin of Lewis Carroll’s portrayal of madness, and ‘Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur’, which explores the author’s preoccupation with Victorian performance science, photography, psychiatric theory, and comedic catharsis. In a new project I am currently exploring the multifaceted Victorian preoccupations with ecology — my article “From Scotland to Utopia (via Hammersmith): William Morris, George MacDonald and the Utopian ecological aesthetic” will appear 2018 in the Journal of Scottish and Irish Studies. My research interests are versatile, and interested in public perceptions of science and science communication, and I have thus written on Fairies and Dreaming for Harvard University, about Victorian Insect-mania for the Royal Entomological Society and Alice in Cyberspace for The Conversation, or about Dickens, Time-Travel and Near-Death-Experiences in “Back to the Future: The Time Traveller’s Traumatic Jetlag in A Christmas Carol“, which appeared in Dickens on the Move – Between Cultures and Continents.

My Public Engagement:

darwin and i

Charles D. and I at the Natural History Museum, London

I am (history of) science communicator in research and practice and have appeared on international broadcast, including BBC4’s In Our Time, CBC Radio’s Ideas, ARTE’s Invitation au Voyage/Stadt Land Kunst or TRT’s Showcase, and the Birmingham Literature Festival. Several of my shorter pieces and journalistic features have appeared in Newspapers such as the Oxford Mail,  The Conversation, and Liasons – Magazin für den Kulturaustausch.

I have also acted as curator and consultant for  award-winning exhibitions including ‘Insects through the Looking-Glass (Story Museum & Royal Entomological Society, 2018) and most recently the critically acclaimed Marvellous Mechanical Museum exhibition at Compton Verney.

I am the editor of The Lewis Carroll Review and Reviews Editor of the British Society for Literature and Science, and my own reviews have previously appeared, among others, in the Lewis Carroll Review and the Journal of Literature and Science; I am currently reviewing David Pyle’s Volcanoes for the Bodleian Library Record. 

I have in the past worked as a translator for Marvel Comics and I frequently give public talks and interviews (see papers&talks section), and am involved in several public engagement projects, such as Oxford’s Alice’s Day. As a mezzo-soprano I am a member of classical choirs as well as the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of the University of Oxford, and enjoy photography, drawing, nature and the theatre.

If you find my work interesting and would like to contact me, invite me as a speaker, or follow even more of my online-ramblings, you can find me on twitter, on Pinterest and on academia.edu, or feel free to send me a message on facebook, add me on LinkedIn or simply send me an email [franziska(at)kohlt.com].

9 responses to “About

  1. Hello Sue!

    I’ve seen, that you are interested in psychedelic/death-spheres… In case of that (not sure wether this phrase is correct) I recommend a very strange, but stunning movie to you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enter_the_Void ….. An astonishing piece of non-mainstream movie-culture. Have fun and keep yourself candid!

  2. i want to read it ..
    Upward and yet not Northward: Journeys through Dream, Death and the Fourth Dimension in H.G. Wells’s Short Fiction.please please please

  3. Krass, ich warte noch auf den Wikipedia-Eintrag.. 😀

  4. Adrian Smith

    Hi there, saw a lone ‘like’ on the Cambridge Children’s lit FB page from you re my Peter & Wendy essay in the Journal of Analytical Psychology – and found my way to this page! Have recently written something for the International Journal of Psychoanalysis – currently under review – on Pinocchio too. I’m mulling a PhD at Cambridge on something Children’s Lit/Psychoanalysis related – any advice you could offer? Best, Adrian

    • Thanks for your comment! Maybe our paths will cross at the big Alice conference at Homerton in September? Let’s certainly have a chat – I’ll send you a message! All best, Fran

      • Adrian

        Sadly I’ll be working most of the Alice week, but might be able to some of the events either in London or Oxford for the last couple of days. Feel free to add me on FB for a chat – your interests in psychology/neurology and children’s lit might have some cross overs with some of the things I’m interested in – more psychoanalysis looking in on children’s lit… 🙂

  5. Adrian

    …might be able to *get to* some of the events… (sic)
    Written pre morning coffee!

  6. Adrian

    Hi Fran, I sent a reply to your email and a copy of my Pinocchio piece. Did that get through? Best, Adrian

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