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Research

My work covers both Romantic and Victorian period writing, and I have published on poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and on writers such as Dickens, Gaskell, Tennyson, Hood, Wordsworth, Bentham, De Quincey and Carlyle.

My forthcoming monograph, Imagining the Dead in British Literature and Culture, 1790-1848 (Palgrave, 2018) offers the first account of the dead as an imagined community in the early nineteenth-century. It examines why Romantic and Victorian writers (including Wordsworth, Dickens, De Quincey, Godwin, and D’Israeli) believed that influencing the imaginative conception of the dead was a way to either advance, or resist, social and political reform. This interdisciplinary study contributes to the burgeoning field of Death Studies by drawing on the work of both canonical and lesser-known writers, reformers, and educationalists to show how both literary representation of the dead in fiction and poetry, and the burial and display of their corpses in churchyards, dissecting-rooms, and garden cemeteries, responded to developments in literary aesthetics, psychology, ethics, and political philosophy. Imagining the Dead in British Literature and Culture, 1790-1848 shows that whether they were lauded as exemplars or loathed as tyrants, rendered absent by burial, or made uncannily present through exhumation and display, the dead were central to debates about the shape and structure of British society as it underwent some of the most radical transformations in its history.

McAllister book cover

I am currently writing two essays on Dickens's last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend: the first of these examines the novel's representation of contingency, while the other considers the claims to realism that are made by, and on behalf of, the novel.

This work is unrelated to my major current research project, which builds on my expertise in Death Studies to consider representations of widowerhood in Victorian literature and culture.

I am also developing a project that links the depiction of vagrancy, tramping and walking in Victorian literature and culture to notions of plot in Victorian fiction, finding in the digressive anti-plots of writers such as George Meredith, G.H. Borrow and Richard Jefferies a correlative to their walking practices.