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Dr Carolyn Burdett

  • Overview

    Overview

    Biography

    Carolyn Burdett is Head of the Department of English, Theatre and Creative Writing. She teaches English Literature and Victorian Studies and supervises students working on Victorian topics.

    Burdett has published widely on late-Victorian literature, culture and science. She is currently completing a book on sympathy and empathy that foregrounds her interest in the intersections between Victorian psychology, ethics and aesthetics. 

    She has published two monographs on the South African writer, Olive Schreiner, and is currently part of a team preparing the first scholarly edition of Schreiner's work for Edinburgh University Press. 

    Between 2010 and 2020 Burdett was the General Editor of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century https://19.bbk.ac.uk


    Highlights

    Qualifications

    • DPhil English Literature, University of Sussex, 1992
    • MA Critical Theory, University of Sussex, 1985
    • BA Hons Sociology, University of Essex, 1992

    Web profiles

    Professional activities

    I serves on the advisory board for New Formations and have peer reviewed for a wide variety of academic journals including Annals of Science,  BRANCH, Feminist Review, Journal of Victorian Culture; Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Patterns of Prejudice, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, Journal of Victorian Literature & Culture, Victorian Review, Victorian Studies, Women: a Cultural Review, The Sociological Review; Victorian Periodicals Review.

    I have been external examiner for seven PhDs; one MPhil; and one MLit and internal examiner for three PhDs.

    I have been part of the organising group in relation to a number of national and international conferences, including 'Scholarly Editing Unpacked (Birkbeck, 2017); 'Feminist Emergency' (Birkbeck, 2016); 'Victorian Psychology Today' (Birkbeck, 2016); ‘Wandering Feelings: the Transmission of Emotions in the Long Nineteenth Century’ (QMUL, 2011); ‘Psychology/Aesthetics in the Nineteenth Century’ (IES, University of London, 2010); 'The Victorian Supernatural' (University of North London, 1995).

    Honours and awards

    • Leverhulme Research Fellowship, Leverhulme Trust, November 2012

    ORCID

    0000-0003-2556-7129
  • Research

    Research

    Research interests

    • Later Victorian literature and culture
    • Victorian science, especially psychology
    • Emotions
    • Vernon Lee and aestheticism
    • George Eliot and Victorian philosophy

    Research overview

    My current research interests focus on Victorian psychology, aesthetics and ethics. I am completing a book called Forming Empathy: Psychology, Aesthetics, Ethics, 1870-1920 which is about the emergence and early uses of the term ‘empathy’ at the beginning of the twentieth century, and why the term more familiar to the Victorians themselves, ‘sympathy’, had come under strain by that time. The project explores cultural forms of feeling in the context of social change, scientific professionalization, and secularization and does so through the lens of two extraordinary women, George Eliot and Vernon Lee.

    Eliot and Lee were fascinated by Victorian science and were important, if little acknowledged, contributors to the emerging field of psychology.  My interest how the Victorians understood 'mind' and the relation between conscious and unconscious experience is longstanding and connects my research on sympathy and empathy with earlier interests in occult ideas and the supernatural, represented in a co-edited book on The Victorian Supernatural (2004).

    My research and teaching interests in the literature, culture and politics of the period 1870-1920 developed originally in the context of my research on the South African-born feminist and novelist, Olive Schreiner (1855-1920). Schreiner made me think about feminism, the New Woman, socialism, anti-imperialism, religion, post-Darwinian evolutionary thought, and ideas of progress. I am currently editing her Woman and Labour (1911) for the first scholarly edition of her major works, to be published by Edinburgh University Press.

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching

    Supervision

    I welcome enquiries from students wishing to pursue postgraduate work in the following areas:

    Fin-de-siècle literature, culture and society

    Victorian emotions

    Victorian novel

    Nineteenth-century feminism

    Victorian science (especially Darwinian evolution and psychology) and literature 

    Victorian women and philosophy


    Current Supervisions

    • Joint Principal Supervisor for 3 Birkbeck students
    • Second Supervisor for 1 Birkbeck students
  • Publications

    Publications

    Article

    Book

    Book Section

    • Burdett, Carolyn (2020) Vernon Lee 1856-1935. In: Scholl, L. (ed.) Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women Writers. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9783030027216.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2018) Sympathy. In: Hartley, L. (ed.) History of British Women's Writing, 1830-1880. History of British Women's Writing. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137584656. (In Press)
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2016) Olive Schreiner. In: Crane, R. and Stafford, J. and Williams, M. (eds.) The World Novel in English to 1950. The Oxford History of the Novel in English. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199609932.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2015) Olive Schreiner. In: Felluga, D.F. and Gilbert, P.K. and Hughes, L.K. (eds.) The Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature. Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 9781118405383.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2014) Modernity, the occult, and psychoanalysis. In: Marcus, L. and Mukherjee, A. (eds.) A Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature and Culture. Oxford, UK: Wiley. ISBN 9781405188609.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2013) The new woman. In: Mallett, P. (ed.) Thomas Hardy in Context. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 363-373. ISBN 9780521196482.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2013) Emotions. In: John, J. (ed.) The Victorian Handbook of Victorian Literary Culture. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199593736.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2004) Romance, reincarnation and Rider Haggard. In: Bown, Nicola and Burdett, Carolyn and Thurschwell, P. (eds.) The Victorian Supernatural. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 217-235. ISBN 9780521114646.
    • Bown, Nicola (2004) What is the stuff that dreams are made of?. In: Bown, Nicola and Burdett, Carolyn and Thurschwell, P. (eds.) The Victorian Supernatural. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 151-172. ISBN 9780521810159.
    • Luckhurst, Roger (2004) Knowledge, belief and the supernatural at the imperial margin. In: Bown, Nicola and Burdett, Carolyn and Thurschwell, P. (eds.) The Victorian Supernatural. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 197-216. ISBN 9780521114646.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2002) From the 'New Werther' to numbers and arguments: Karl Pearson's eugenics. In: Luckhurst, Roger and McDonagh, J. (eds.) Transactions and Encounters: Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. pp. 204-231. ISBN 9780719059117.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (2002) From the new werther to numbers and arguments: Karl Pearson's eugenics. In: Luckhurst, Roger and McDonagh, J. (eds.) Transactions and Encounters: Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. pp. 204-231. ISBN 9780719059100.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (1998) Introduction - Part VI: Eugenics. In: Bland, L. and Doan, L. (eds.) Sexology Uncensored: The Documents of Sexual Science. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. pp. 163-198. ISBN 9780745621135.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (1998) The hidden romance of sexual science: eugenics, the nation and the making of modern feminism. In: Bland, L. and Doan, L. (eds.) Sexology in Culture: Labelling Bodies and Desires. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. pp. 44-59. ISBN 9780745619828.
    • Burdett, Carolyn (1998) Eugenics. In: Bland, L. and Doan, L. (eds.) Sexology Uncensored: the Documents of Sexual Science. Cambridge, UK: Polity. pp. 163-98. ISBN 9780745621135.

    Editorial

    • Burdett, Carolyn and Parejo-Vadillo, Ana and White, P. (2010) Science, literature and the Darwin legacy. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 11, Birkbeck University. ISSN 1755-1560.