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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 here.

Dr Katherine Skaris

Contact Dr Katherine Skaris


I received my BA degree from Stony Brook University in 2007, and my Masters in English Studies from Queens College in 2010. I began my doctoral research at Durham University in the fall of 2011, supervised by Professor Stephen Regan and Professor Simon James. My doctoral thesis is a transatlantic study which focuses on the representation of women’s work in nineteenth-and-early twentieth-century American and British Literature.

Using feminist theory, economics, and social history, my thesis has two main objectives. Firstly, it examines women’s unconventional labours that would otherwise be overlooked. Secondly, in showing how powerful narratives are generated by a persistent concern with affective labour, the thesis seeks to re-evaluate and re-establish some valuable but largely forgotten or neglected works of British and American writers. Accordingly, the thesis revives the largely ignored texts by the “scribbling women” of Britain and America, such as Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Mona Caird, and Mary Austin, and rereads them alongside established authors, such as Elizabeth Gaskell, Kate Chopin, and Edith Wharton, to demonstrate how all these works provide valuable insights into women’s lives in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.



2013-2015 – L1 module, ‘Introduction to the Novel’

2015-2016 – L2 module, ‘Victorian Literature’


Papers given:

“The Unsung Heroes of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Fiction: A Study of Mary Barton, Ruth, and North and South,” presented at NeMLA’s 47th Convention. Hartford, Connecticut, March 20, 2016.


“Self-fulfilment and Labour in American Fiction: A Study of Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall: A Domestic Tale of the Present Time, and Louisa May Alcott’s Work: A Story of Experience,” presented at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference. Seattle, Washington, March 22, 2016.


“Affective Labour in the Musical Arts: A study of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, Mona Caird’s The Daughters of Danaus, and Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark,” presented at the Music and Literature: Critical Polyphonies Conference. Durham University, July 2, 2015.


“The Fallen Woman’s Criminality, Madness, and Labour: A Study of Lady Audley’s Secret,” presented at the NeMLA 2014 Conference. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 4, 2014.


“Self-fulfilment and Labour in New Woman Fiction: A Study of The Daughters of Danaus and The Beth Book,” presented at the ACLA 2014 Conference. New York, March 21, 2014.

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