Dr Alice Barnaby
Associate Professor
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 604441

Alice Barnaby’s research and teaching expertise lies in the literature and material culture of the long nineteenth century. She studied for her BA and MA in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She then worked for a number of years in the Museums and Galleries sector before undertaking a PhD in the Department of English Literature at the University of Exeter. Her work investigates the relationship between perceptual experience and nineteenth-century modernity. She conducts historicised readings of literary and visual sources in light of current debates concerning theories of affect, ontology and material agency. This work rethinks established methodologies of cultural materialism. Her book Light Touches: Cultural Practices of Illumination, London 1800-1900 is forthcoming with Routledge in 2016.

Alice is Head of Department, English Literature and Creative Writing.


  1. Barnaby, A. Dresses and Drapery: Female Self-fashioning in Muslin, 1800-1850 (Ed.), Crafting the Woman Professional in the Long Nineteenth Century 89 104 Farnham Ashgate
  2. Barnaby, A. Surface Recognition: Light and Reflection in mid nineteenth-century Drawing Rooms (Ed.), Surface Tensions: Surface, Finish and the Meaning of Objects 166 180 Manchester Manchester University Press
  3. Barnaby, A. Lighting Practices in Art Galleries and Exhibition Spaces, 1750-1850 (Ed.), Museum Media: The International Handbook of Museum Studies 191 213 Hoboken Wiley
  4. Barnaby, A. Sensing Light: The Bio-Cultural Practices if Illuminated Aesthetics in Nineteenth-century Britain (Ed.), Sciences and the Humanities 129 152 Mexico University

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  • EN-100 Monsters, Theories, Transformations

    Literary works open up different meanings depending on the questions we ask them and the assumptions we bring to them. Literary meaning is in continual transformation. This module examines some of the ways in which this occurs through critical reading and intertextual revision. The first half of the module looks at two works, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula, that have been plurally interpreted by critics; the second half of the module considers the transformation of narrative and ideology in the 'intertextual' revision of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre by Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea. The course looks at how meaning in literature is transformed and how it transforms the ways in which we see the world.

  • EN-120 English Essentials

    This is a skills-based module which will equip students with the technical and critical expertise that is necessary for their academic journey in English Literature and Creative Writing. It is designed to support the transition from post-16 study to undergraduate study and to show students *how* to become successful scholars of English. How should we read texts? How do we write essays? Focusing on an exciting anthology of texts selected by the English academics at Swansea, this team-taught module uncovers the power of written language. We will explore how writers inspire and challenge their readers, how to think critically, how to close-read, how to construct powerful arguments and how to produce written work that is rigorous, academic and convincing. This module empowers students to think, write, and persuade.

  • EN-226 Conflict and the Gothic in the long nineteenth century

    This module explores how the genre of the Gothic was implicated in forces of political, social and sexual conflict in the long nineteenth century, Terror, transgression and taboo are common features of the genre and characters frequently find themselves in strange, uncanny and threatening situations. We will consider what is at stake in these powerful motifs of extreme experience while also analysing the relationship between the structure and style of these texts and their affective impact. Genre theory, queer theory, postcolonial theory and the work of ecoGothic critics will provide much of the conceptual framework for this module. The module builds on themes explored in EN-100 and provides an intellectual stepping stone to a range of specialist third year modules.

  • EN-3031 Dissertation - English Literature

    The Dissertation is an optional, two-semester, 40-credit module designed to develop high-level academic skills and intellectual independence in the students. A first-semester skills-building programme will include: research skills, summary skills, bibliographic skills, ability to synthesise succinctly, planning and organisational skills, correct presentation of a thesis and bibliography, presentational skills and public speaking. Students conduct research on a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of the English literature staff. The topic will be devised to fall within staff research and teaching specialisms, broadly defined. Students attend group sessions on research skills in Semesters 1 and 2, and have individual meetings with supervisors in Semester 2.

  • EN-3046 Stuff: Victorian Literature and Material Culture

    Victorian modernity was defined by production and consumption. Objects were made, sold, bought, stolen, given, lost and found on an unprecedented scale. The Victorian period and its literature were stuffed full of things. For some, this proliferation of stuff signified progress, wealth and civilization. Others were less confident, or even critical, about this new materiality. Focusing on the years immediately after the Great Exhibition, this module examines how objects were represented in literature and how literature itself became an object of consumption. This module takes one literary text ¿ Charles Dickens¿ novel Our Mutual Friend (1865)¿ and studies it from a range of thematic and theoretical perspectives. The novel will be read alongside philosophical and theoretical writing that investigates the fluctuating and unsettled relationship between materiality and subjectivity. The module takes an object-centred approach which shifts emphasis away from the subject as unique generator of literary meaning. In so doing it engages with the recent `material¿ turn in Victorian studies.

  • EN-3056 Encountering the Animal in the 21st Century

    What do we see when we look at animals? What do animals see when they look at us? These questions are being ever more urgently asked in the 21st century; a period in which the issue of animal rights is being publicly debated, and veganism is a mainstream movement - yet, simultaneously, intensive factory-farming is on the rise, and an estimated 10,000 animal species are being driven to extinction each year. Animals feed us, clothe us and act as our assistants and companions; but they are also profoundly Other, and thus challenge our preconceived categories of being and subjectivity at a profound level. In considering considering the representation of the animal within culture, therefore, we are also forced to confront our own animal identity. In this module,students will look at representations of the animal within literature and culture alongside theoretical writings from the growing discipline of 'animal studies'.In mid-semester students will have the chance to interact with animals during off-site visits, thus allowing them to ground theory in experience. Throughout the course, we will be interrogating the human/animal distinction, and discussing the question of whether animals are as different from us as we might like to think.

  • EN-M31 Dissertation

    Individual project devised and defined in discussion between supervisor and student.

  • EN-M41 Research Practice in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English

    Supervised project on research methodology in practice. Students build a detailed bibliographical plan for their MA dissertation project.


  • "When Media Talks: Re-looking at Animations" (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Chris Pak
  • Adaptive Transformations: 19th Century Stage Adaptations of 19th Century Novels (current)

    Other supervisor: Prof Kirsti Bohata
  • Daphne du Maurier: Gendering the Gothic (current)

    Other supervisor: Dr Marie-Luise Kohlke

Career History

Start Date End Date Position Held Location
2011 2015 Senior Lecturer University of Bedfordshire

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Head of Department - English Literature and Creative Writing.

    2016 - Present