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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; a serf in a medieval-themed restaurant; in skateboard, record, and book shops; and, briefly, in the rodeo.     

    His interdisciplinary research spans the long nineteenth century, with a particular focus on medical humanities, histories and technologies of ageing, representations of death and burial and their influence on shaping public spaces and medical discourse, Dickens's writing, histories of inter-generational justice (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 Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, and organises the long-running Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century series of research talks. He is also the General Editor of the journal 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 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. He has most recently co-edited a collection of essays titled Graveyard Gothic, which will be published by Manchester University Press in Spring 2024.


    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
    • PGCHE, Birkbeck, 2012
    • 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
    • Medical Humanities
    • Charles Dickens
    • Death, burial, hauntings
    • The cultural construction of ageing, longevity, and the life course
    • Victorian speculative fiction
    • cemetery and graveyard history
    • the literary culture of the first half of the nineteenth century
    • Health technologies
  • 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 since 2013-14



    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)
    • The Arts: Questioning the Contemporary World (ARAR009S3)
  • Publications




    Book Section

    • McAllister, David (2024) De-Gothicising the Victorian Gothic graveyard. In: Parisot, E. and McAllister, David and Aldana Reyes, X. (eds.) Graveyard Gothic. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526166319. (In Press)
    • Parisot, E. and McAllister, David and Aldana Reyes, X. (2024) Introduction: Graveyard gothic. In: Parisot, E. and McAllister, David and Aldana Reyes, X. (eds.) Graveyard Gothic. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526166319. (In Press)
    • Parisot, Eric and McAllister, David and Aldana Reyes, Xavier (2024) Coda: The futures of the graveyard gothic. In: Parisot, E. and McAllister, David and Aldana Reyes, X. (eds.) Graveyard Gothic. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526166319. (In Press)