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Department of English Studies

Our Current and Recent Research Students

We have a thriving postgraduate community, with around 75 current PhD students, and many more MA students. The profiles of some of our current and recent PhD students can be found below. You can also see recent PhD students and their successful theses.

Miss Sophie Franklin

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My thesis considers the violences of Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontës’ work in order to establish a genealogy between their fiction, conflicted nineteenth-century understandings of violence, and the cultural legacies of violence in recent artwork and adaptations inspired by their prose. This research is underpinned by two apparent contradictions: the simultaneous presumption and disbelief of the violent nature of the Brontës’ writings; and the fact that they were working both within and outside of contemporary cultural understandings of violence. With these supposed contradictions in mind, I will examine the extent to which the Brontës were influenced by or influences on contemporary perceptions of violence through sources such as local newspapers and literary reviews, as well as whether they can be deemed “violent writers” within their cultural context. This project is supported by an AHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership studentship (2015 – 2018), and is supervised by Dr Sarah Wootton and Dr Peter Garratt.

Beyond the Brontës and violence, I am also more broadly interested in George Eliot’s fiction, thing theory, newspapers and periodicals, and the significance of glass in nineteenth-century literature, as well as contemporary visual and literary representations of violence and its association with gender.

Before starting my PhD, I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2013 and went on to gain an MA in Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies at Durham University in 2014. I have also worked in the bookselling and publishing industries. Currently, I am a postgraduate representative for the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies at Durham University. I am also co-organising ‘The Coarseness of the Brontës: A Reappraisal’ conference in partnership with the Brontë Society and Brunel University, held at Durham University on 10th to 11th August 2017 ( 



‘Beyond the Civilizing Process: A Response to Peter K. Andersson’s ‘How Civilized Were the Victorians?’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 22/1 (2017). Forthcoming March 2017.


Charlotte Brontë Revisited: A View from the Twenty-First Century (Saraband, 2016).

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