Reminder: submit your abstracts!

We hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Remember to send in 300 word abstracts to us for Hilary Term by this Thursday, December 31st. Email them to

For those unsure if they can do it or have enough research done for it, do go ahead and submit anyway! We consider the seminars a space where early- as well as late-stage PhD researchers can share their research and we welcome submissions across the board.

We hope you all have a wonderful New Year and look forward to seeing everyone in January!Funny-simpson-cartoon-happy-new-year-2015


Thanks so much Professor Kevin Whelan for his talk on “1916: What Caused the Rising?”, and to everyone who came along to our final seminar of the term. It was a very interesting paper with some brilliant discussion afterwards.

We’re delighted with the presentations and conversations that have taken place over the past few months, and we encourage anyone who is interested to submit an abstract for a spot next term. Send us 300 words by December 31st to We look forward to seeing you all back in the Trinity Long Room Hub in January!

Final seminar of 2015!




The TCD School of English Staff-Postgraduate Seminar Series is thrilled to announce a public lecture by Professor Kevin Whelan, Michael Smurfit Director of the Keough-Notre Dame Centre in Dublin, entitled “1916: What caused the Rising?” on Tuesday, 15 December at 17:00 in the Trinity Long Room Hub.

Professor Whelan has written or edited fifteen books and over one hundred articles on Ireland’s history, geography and culture, including The Tree of Liberty. Radicalism, Catholicism and the Construction of Irish Identity 1760-1830 (1996), Fellowship of Freedom: The United Irishmen and the 1798 Rebellion (1998), and Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape (1997). His influential articles include “An underground gentry?,” “The Republic in the Village,” “The Memories of ‘The Dead,'” and “The Green Atlantic.’” For many years he directed the annual Irish Seminar, the leading seminar in the field of Irish Studies, whose faculty has included Edward Said, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Homi Bhabha, Fred Jameson and Benedict Anderson.

We look forward to seeing you all at this term’s final seminar, which promises to be a fascinating event.

Call for Papers: Staff-Postgraduate Seminars Hilary Term 2016

We are fast-approaching the end of the Michaelmas term, and with that the conclusion of the first set of the School of English Staff-Postgraduate Seminar Series in the 2015-16 academic calendar. We would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every speaker so far for truly outstanding papers. We extend our gratitude also to you all for attending each week and contributing to the lively discussions.

Today, we are delighted to open the call for papers for next term. This term has demonstrated the highly original, interdisciplinary and rigorous research being carried out in TCD’s School of English, the university’s wider research community, and on an international level. We have really taken a lot from the fruitful interaction between students and staff from across a number of disciplines this term, and we are excited about further advancing this engagement next term. It has been fantastic to see many new faces as well as those who continue to support the series.

Papers are encouraged from current postgraduate students in the School as well as staff members. If you are interested in presenting a paper in the coming academic year, please send a title and an abstract of up to 300 words to by 31 December 2015. The seminars usually take place on Tuesdays in the Trinity Long Room Hub Neill Lecture Theatre at 17:00.

You can find more information on our Facebook page or on Twitter: @TCDSeminars15.

We look forward to hearing from you and continuing the seminar series after the Christmas break.

P.S We’re excited about next Tuesday’s papers and we look forward to seeing you all there! PhD student Will Brady will present on Clue-Puzzle Crime Fiction and World War II and postdoctoral researcher Dr Ailise Bulfin will speak about The Fiction of the Gothic Indies. Until then!

Kindest regards,

Gavin, Nora, and Kate.

Abstracts for Tuesday December 8th!

William Brady 



The Implosion of the English Murder:  Clue-Puzzle Crime Fiction and World War II.

The clue-puzzle detective story, which rose to peak popularity in Britain in the 1920s and 30s, offered inter-war readers an outlet for processing the trauma of The Great War by presenting death within the context of a ratio-centric parlour game . With the outbreak of World War II this generic function was undermined as a new reality of mass-killing proved uncontainable within the formulaic constraints of the genre.

Throughout the 1940s, therefore, the ostensibly defunct whodunnit model can be seen to give way to the bloodier, grittier influence of the hard-boiled American style. Meanwhile, writers such as J.B. Priestley in An Inspector Calls and Georgette Heyer, with Penhallow self-consciously reshape the Golden Age Mystery format with a view to capturing the war-weary zeitgeist.

This paper analyses the evolving identity of Crime Fiction during the 1940s, examining how fantasies of self-annihilation prevalent in the public psyche of the day modified the structure and character of the detective genre, leading to what Orwell termed “the decline of the English murder.”


Ailise Bulfin


Vampires, Mesmerists and Other Demons: The Fiction of the Gothic Indies

Perhaps two thousand years hence … some black Governor-General of England will be marching through [England’s] southern provinces, and will go and look at some ruins, and doubt whether London ever was a large town, and will feed some white-looking skeletons, and say what distress the poor creatures must be in.

Emily Eden, ‘Up the Country’ (1866).

In the late-1830s Emily Eden toured parts of northern India with her brother George, recently appointed Governor-General of India, during a period of severe famine which she described in letters later published as a travelogue. In the excerpt cited above, Eden extrapolates from the immediate Indian scenes of devastation to a far-distant future of death and ruin in England in which the imperial roles are reversed. What is particularly noteworthy in Eden’s apocalyptic vision is not just the image of ruined England or its Indian ruler, but the presence of ‘white skeletons’ – India’s starving English subjects. These highlight a proximity between Eden’s exposure to the unconscionable realities of existence for Indians under British imperial rule and her fantasy of imperial inversion, and signal a link that was to recur with far greater force in the gothic fiction of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries as imperial territorial aggrandisement entered its most aggressive phase. Eden’s incongruous famine fantasy reads as a gothic disruption of the travelogue form, a tendency confirmed in Roger Luckhurst’s observation of ‘this structural principle: wherever there is imperial occupation, there is a reserve of supernaturalism, an occult supplement to an allegedly enlightened rule that becomes a currency for acknowledging and even negotiating the consequences of this colonial violence’ (The Mummy’s Curse (2013)). This paper will investigate how this supernaturalism and the related fears of inversion coalesced around the popular fictional figure of the Gothic invader, focusing on little-known fictions arising out of the Indian and West Indian experiences of empire. These include Florence Marryat’s The Blood of the Vampire (1897), with its West-Indian psychic vampire; Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of baleful foreign female mesmerists, ‘John Barrington Cowles’ (1888) and The Parasite (1894), and tales of malevolent Indian agency Our Lady of Death (1887) and The Mystery of Cloomber (1889); and Grant Allen’s early ‘shilling shocker’ Kalee’s Shrine (1886); all of which are read against some of Rudyard Kipling’s better-known Indian Gothic, including ‘The Mark of The Beast’ (1890). In its reading of these texts, the paper highlights the ways in which they were impacted by the colonial connections of their authors, and offers discrete generic redefinitions of several areas of the fin-de-siècle Gothic, showing how seemingly disparate texts are linked by a unifying concern with invasion.