PhD in English Literature (2010)
MA in English Literature (2004), Pass with Distinction
University of Sussex
BA (Hons) in English (2001), First Class Honours
University of York
I am Hourly-Paid Lecturer in in Fashion Theory & Contextual Studies, teaching on the BA (Hons) Fashion Design, Fashion Promotion and Fashion Marketing and Retail Design undergraduate programmes. I have previously undertaken two full-time maternity cover positions at the University as Lecturer in Fashion Theory. Before joining the university in 2011, I taught English Literature at Cardiff University and at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
My research is interdisciplinary and is concerned with sartorial fashion, literature and visual culture. I hold a PhD in English Literature from Cardiff University, an MA (with Distinction) in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture from the University of Sussex, and a BA in English Literature (First Class Honours) from the University of York.
My doctoral thesis examined fashionable representations of women during the nineteenth century, analysing the complex and contradictory meanings of clothing, fashionability and ‘femininity’. Overall, I am concerned with the changing dynamics of studies in fashion, literature and cultural history; my work addresses notions of materiality and visuality alongside the politics of gender, class and personal identity.
I am fascinated by the figure of the Victorian and Edwardian dressmaker as depicted in fiction, periodicals and the visual arts, and am especially interested in exploring how these representations intersect with contemporary discourses on the making of clothing, looking in particular at the milliner’s appearance (or implied presence) within fashion-plates and the ladies’ magazine.
I regularly contribute to conferences and research networks in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. This work has been recognised by several awards and honours, including two bursaries to travel to North America to disseminate my research at the Rocky Mountains Modern Language Association’s Convention in Calgary, Alberta (2007), and the Modernist Association’s Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee (2008).
Having a strong interest in literary adaptation and historical advising, I acted as Costume Consultant for Dispossession, a graphic adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s novel John Caldigate, (Leuven University research project). Simon Grennan, Dispossession (London: Jonathan Cape, 2015).
Chapters in Books:
‘“Buying in Style”: Sartorial Sensibilities and Victorian Popular Fiction’, in Fashion and Material Culture in Victorian Fiction and Periodicals, ed. Janine Hatter and Nickianne Moody (Brighton: Edward Everett Root Publishers, 2019).
‘Female Space; Feminine Grace: Ladies and the Mid-Victorian Railway’, in Britain and the Narration of Travel in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Kate Hill (Farnham: Ashgate, 2016)
‘The Discerning Eye: Viewing the Mid-Victorian “Modern” Woman’, in Cultures of Femininity in Modern Fashion, ed. Ilya Parkins and Elizabeth M. Sheehan (Durham, New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire Press, 2011)
‘Seeing Touch Anew’: Clothing, Gender and The Victorian Tactile Imagination’ (forum piece) 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (19: 2014)
Preface to exhibition ‘How Novel Was the Novelette? Fiction, Gender and Popular Nineteenth-Century Periodicals’. Exhibition curated by John Spiers, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of English Studies School of Advanced Study, University of London. In association with the Institute of English Studies and the Senate House Library. Senate House, 4-7 July 2018
‘Of War and Dressmaking: Winifred Beechey’s The Rich Mrs Robinson’ [online]. The University of South Wales. Available at: http://www.southwales.ac.uk/study/subjects/history/worldwarone/kara-tennant/
Co-editor (with Tatiana Kontou), Volume entitled ‘Fashionable & Curious Things’ (Volume 6 of 6-volume set as part of Victorian Material Culture series, edited by Tatiana Kontou and Victoria Mills). Forthcoming.
Signs, Symbols and Words (2008), co-edited with Alexandra Smith and Jessica Webb, with a Preface by Professor Mary Beard. Conference proceedings of Reading: Images, Texts, Artefacts conference [online]. Cardiff University, Humanities Research Institute. Formerly at: http://www.caerdydd.ac.uk/chri/researchpapers/pgconference/Papers%201%20-%207/ [URL no longer available].
Network Editor/Administrator, Crime Narratives in Context (CNIC) Research Network
Cardiff University (2007-8)
Conference Papers and Panels:
July 2018, ‘In Fleeting Favour: Mid-Victorian Military Fashion Fads’, War and Peace conference, Victorian Popular Fiction Association, Senate House, University of London
July 2017, ‘Seaside Sights: Fashionable Modes of the Mid-Victorian Coast’, Travel, Translation and Communication conference, Victorian Popular Fiction Association, Senate House, University of London
July 2016, ‘Buying Style: Sartorial Discernment and “Popular” Victorian Culture’, Victorian Popular Genres conference, Victorian Popular Fiction Association, Senate House, University of London
July 2015, ‘Absence and Expectance in the Nineteenth Century: Dressing the Clothed Maternal Body’, Textual Fashion: Representing Clothing and Word and Image conference, University of Brighton
March 2015, ‘The Linear Trajectory of Barthes’ ‘Three Garments’: Re-reading Victorian Clothing’, Roland Barthes at 100 conference, Cardiff University
July 2014, ‘A Question of Value: Danger, Virtue and Victorian Dressmaking’, Victorian Trash and Treasure conference, Victorian Popular Fiction Association, Senate House, University of London
July 2013, ‘Growing Desires: Ferns and Femininity in the Nineteenth Century’, Victorian Tactile Imagination conference, Birkbeck, University of London
July 2013, ‘Cohesive Courtships: Winning, Wooing and Wedding through the Short Story Form’, New Approaches to the Victorian Short Story symposium, University of Birmingham
September 2012, ‘Elegant Exotics: Fur, Feathers and Fashionable Femininity in Mid-Victorian Britain’, Victorian Things: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Material Culture conference, Oxford Brookes University
April 2012, ‘A Sweet Weakness: Purchasing Ladies’ Clothing in the Nineteenth Century’, Rags and Riches: Dress and Dress Accessories in Social Context conference, University of Reading
September 2011, ‘Ladies and Railways: Truth and Beauty in Transit’, Travel and Truth conference, Wolfson College, University of Oxford
July 2011, ‘A Restricted Ideal: Female Beauty in Transit’, Travel in the Nineteenth Century: Narratives, Histories and Collections conference, University of Lincoln
November 2008, ‘Asparagus, Lampshades and “Shopkeepers’ Wives”: Reciprocal Ridicule and National “Type” in Mid-Victorian Fashion Writing’, Modernist Studies Association Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee
October 2007, ‘The “Mauve Measles”: Fashion, Aniline Dyes and the Mid-Victorian Consumer’, Rocky Mountains Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Calgary, Alberta
July 2007, ‘“Skeletons in Leathern Caskets”: Fashion, Femininity and the Mid-Victorian Ideal’, Mind → Body conference, University of Reading
June 2007, ‘Sparkle and Spontaneity: the Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research’, Plenary Session, Reading: Images, Texts, Artefacts conference, Cardiff University
March 2007, ‘Inside Out, Outside In: Inversions of Fashionable Space and the Mid-Victorian Feminine Ideal’, ‘From House to Home’: Representations in Victorian Literature and Art conference, The University of Warwick
Chair, Steering Committee, Reading: Images, Texts, Artefacts, AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council)-funded two-day international interdisciplinary postgraduate conference (Cardiff University, June 2007)
April 2011, ‘What Lies Beneath: A Closer Look at the Victorian Corset’, Invited Lecture to A1 and A2 level students, Neath Port Talbot College
Associate Fellow, Higher Education Academy
Awards and Honours:
• Conference Bursary, Victorian Tactile Imagination conference, Birkbeck, University of London (July 2013)
• West Glamorgan Further Education Trust Fund (PhD Bursary; 2006-2010)
• Cardiff University Graduate Schools Research Grant (September 2009)
• Modernist Studies Association Travel Fellowship (November 2008)
• Nelia and Candadai Sechachari Faculty Convention Travel Grant (Runner-up award), Rocky Mountains Modern Language Association of America (October 2007)
• Arts and Humanities Research Board (now Arts and Humanities Research Council) Postgraduate Award (2003-4)
• Collaborative research visit, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Telford, Shropshire (2012)
• Curatorial volunteer, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery (2004)
Costume Consultant: Leuven University research project, Dispossession, a graphic adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s John Caldigate. Simon Grennan, Dispossession (London: Jonathan Cape, 2015).
My particular areas of interest include:
• Nineteenth-century dress, literature and culture
• Consumer culture
• The Victorian and Edwardian dressmaker (milliner)
• Visual culture studies
• Gender and the concept of ‘femininity’
• Periodicals and the women’s magazine
• Victorian domesticity
• Travel writing (particularly railway narratives)
• Intertextuality and interdisciplinary methodologies
• Historical adaptation, costume advising and interpretation
• Modern popular culture.
If you are a journalist on deadline and you need to speak with a member of university staff with particular expertise, please contact the Press Office.