Darwin and I

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

I am currently reading for a D.Phil. at Brasenose College, Oxford, and have previously completed an MA in Nineteenth Century Studies at the University of Sheffield, and a BA in British Studies and Communication and Media Science at Leipzig University (Germany) and Cardiff Metropolitan University, where I also trained as a journalist.

I work as tutor at several Oxford Colleges, teaching 19th & 20th century literature, as well as specialised modules in Literature & Science, Children’s and Fantastic Literature, Science Fiction and Visual Culture. I have in the past also taught at TU Dresden, ASE Bath and Emory University.

My thesis explores the links between the emergence of Victorian psychology and fantastic literature through the work of the scientifically trained authors George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley and H.G. Wells, and their literary portrayal of visions experienced in dream, illness and near death. Substantial archival research in the history of medicine, psychology and the ‘pseudo-science’ of spiritualism illuminates the origins of Victorian fantastic literature in ‘making visible’ epistemological debates of the nature of consciousness, and the nature of the soul. Considering these issues in the wider framework of the Victorian history of science and theology, I establish fantastic literature as a primary medium for the discussion, development and establishing of psychological ideas, which range from early ideas of the subconscious and dream theory to evolutionary psychology.

My research interests lie more generally in the long nineteenth century, English, Russian and German Literature from that period, but I am also interested in post-modernist works, and multimedial re-imaginings. More specifically, my work covers the following areas:

  • Literature, Science and Religion
  • The History of Science, Medicine, Psychology and Psychiatry
  • Fantastic Literature, Science Fiction and Children’s Literature
  • Journeys to Otherworlds in Literature, Film and Video Games
  • Dreams and Visions, Spectres and Hallucinations
  • Illness Narratives, Death, Near-death and Dying
  • Visual Culture, Illustration and Photography

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

  • H. G. Wells, George MacDonald, Charles Kingsley, Edwin Abbott and Lewis Carroll
  • Robert Wilfred Skeffington Lutwidge, Hugh Welch Diamond
  • Gilbert & Sullivan, John Tenniel, Linley Sambourne
  • Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • E.T.A Hoffmann, Novalis, J.W. von Goethe and Erich Kästner

I have published articles on various aspects of the work of Lewis Carroll, most recently ‘The stupidest Tea-Party in all my life: Lewis Carroll and Victorian Psychiatry’, which has appeared in the Journal of Victorian Culture. Under the title ‘Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur’ I have just completed an article on Carroll’s parodies, in the contexts of his preoccupation with Victorian medical theory, the Victorian stage, performance theory and photography. In a new project I aim to provide a comprehensive study of George MacDonald as scientist, which explores his links to Scottish science and the emergence of Psychology, but also his study of the German Romanticism, Science through Naturphilosophie. Past publications include “Back to the Future: The Time Traveller’s Traumatic Jetlag in A Christmas Carol“, which appeared in the essay collection  Dickens on the Move – Between Cultures and Continents and deals with time travel in the context of the Victorian scientific discourse on other worlds and dimensions, theories of vision and cognition, as well as the literary tradition of cathartic dream-voyages.


Major General Stanley from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance

Several of my shorter pieces and journalistic features have appeared on The Conversation, Remedia, The Royal Entomological Society and Liasons – Magazin für den Kulturaustausch; my reviews have appeared, among others, in the Lewis Carroll Review and the Journal for Literature and Science. I am currently reviewing David Pyle’s Volcanoes for the Bodleian Library Record. 

I have in the past worked as translator for Marvel Comics, 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. I am also a singer and member of classical choirs as well as the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of the University of Oxford, and enjoy photography, drawing, nature and the theatre.

The aim of this website is twofold, it is a blog, as well as a structured overview of my academic work. 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.


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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s