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Dr David McAllister

  • Overview



    David joined Birkbeck in 2011 having previously taught at the universities of Newcastle and York. He also held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group, as part of their Leverhulme-funded project Past versus Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress. Before attending university in his early 20s, he worked variously as: a call-centre worker; a carpenter's labourer; in skateboard, record, and book shops; and, briefly but gloriously, on a Canadian rodeo circuit.     

    His research spans the long nineteenth century, with a particular focus on the history and representation of death and burial, Dickens's writing, literary representations of both ageing and inter-generationality (in other words, how did generations form, constitute themselves, and relate to each other during a period of rapid demographic transition in the nineteenth century?). He also has wider research interests in the gothic, the Victorian novel, Victorian educational theories, masculinities, and nineteenth-century intellectual history. He has published on a wide range of writers including Gaskell, Dickens, Wordsworth, Elizabeth Hamilton, Carlyle, Tennyson, William Godwin and Jeremy Bentham.

    David is currently the Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, and organises the long-running Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century series of research talks. He was elected as a Trustee of the Dickens Society in 2020, and is currently writing a book about Dickens's novelistic construction of midlife and its effect on his experiments in narrative. Other projects percolating in one form or other include a book on inter-generational exchange in the Victorian period, a co-edited special issue of the journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century on 'The Old Nineteenth Century', and a co-edited  collection of essays on Gothic graveyards from the eighteenth century to the present day.


    Office hours

    As we're currently working from home I don't have any fixed office hours. I'm always happy to hear from current, former, or prospective students, however, so please email me to arrange an appointment.


    • PhD, University of Cambridge, 2007
    • MA, University of London, 2001
    • BA, University of London, 2000

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Chair of the School of Arts Education Committee
    • Member of the School of Arts Executive Committee
    • Member of Education Strategy Group
    • Member of Education Committee
    • Member of Whole University Approach to Mental Health Steering Group
    • Member of College Programmes Committee


  • Research


    Research interests

    • The Victorian novel
    • Charles Dickens
    • Death, burial, hauntings
    • literary representations of ageing
    • Victorian speculative fiction
    • cemetery and graveyard history
    • the literary culture of the first half of the nineteenth century
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I am currently supervising or co-supervising several doctoral projects on both Romantic and Victorian topics. I am happy to consider enquiries from potential doctoral students on topics relating to any aspect of nineteenth-century literature and culture, including, but not limited to my current and past research interests: Dickens, Wordsworth, death culture, ageing, vagrancy, etc etc.

    Please do contact me at if you would like an informal discussion about your ideas for a PhD.

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni



    I currently teach on several modules offered as part of the MA Victorian Studies, including our core module Progress and Anxiety, 1789-1859, and two research-led option modules that relate to my interests in Death Studies and gothic: 'Death in Victorian Culture' and 'The Victorian Supernatural'.

    At undergraduate level I teach modules on Dickens; The Victorian Novel, and The Victorians and their World.

    Teaching modules

    • The Arts: Perspectives and Possibilities (ARAR008S3)
    • Doing English (AREN208Z4)
    • Victorian Masculinities (AREN230S7)
    • Progress and Anxiety, 1789-1859 (AREN232S7)
    • Decadence (AREN233S7)
    • Gothic Romance 1764-Present (ENHU100S6)
  • Publications