Dr Marie-luise Kohlke
Senior Lecturer
English Literature & Creative Writing
Telephone: (01792) 604314
Room: Office - 211
Second Floor
Keir Hardie Building
Singleton Campus

Marie-Luise (Mel) Kohlke researches and teaches in the inter-disciplinary fields of neo-Victorianism, trauma narrative and theory, and gender studies, with particular interests in sexuality, cultural memory, and representations of violence. She is the Founding and General Editor of the peer-reviewed, open-access
e-journal, Neo-Victorian Studies, the first international, academic journal specifically dedicated to the subject. She is Series Co-editor (with Christian Gutleben) of the Neo-Victorian Series for Brill/Rodopi, which so far includes four volumes on Neo-Victorian Trauma, Neo-Victorian Families, Neo-Victorian Gothic, and Neo-Victorian Cities, with two further volumes on Neo-Victorian Humour and Neo-Victorian Biofiction in process. Mel is currently working on a monograph on Neo-Victorian Sexsation, as well as conducting research on reader response and bodily figuration in fictions of historical conflict. Other projects include the compilation of an on-line database on neo-Victorian literature and setting up a Neo-Victorian Network to further promote collaborative research into the neo-Victorian phenomenon.

Areas of Expertise

  • neo-Victorianism
  • trauma narrative & theory
  • gender & sexuality
  • cultural memory
  • the Gothic


  1. Kohlke, M. The lures of neo-Victorianism presentism (with a feminist case study of Penny Dreadful) Literature Compass e12463
  2. Kohlke, M. Neo-Victorian Slumming in London's Gothicity: The Victorian Metropolis' Televisual Transformation into "The City of Dreadful Night" (Ed.), Transforming Cities 181 209 Heidelberg, Germany Universitaetsverlag WINTER
  3. Kohlke, M., Gutleben, C. Neo-Victorian Humour: Comic Subversions and Unlaughter in Contemporary Historical Re-Visions (Neo-Victorian Series, vol. 5) (Ed.), Leiden & Boston Brill/Rodopi
  4. Kohlke, M. What's So Funny about the Nineteenth Century? (Ed.), Neo-Victorian Humour: Comic Subversions and Unlaughter in Contemporary Historical Re-Visions 1 43 Leiden, The Netherlands Brill / Rodopi
  5. Kohlke, M. Neo-Victorian Killing Humour: Laughing at Death in the Opium Wars (Ed.), Neo-Victorian Humour: Comic Subversions and Unlaughter in Contemporary Historical Re-Visions 71 102 Leiden, The Netherlands Brill / Rodopi

See more...


  • 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-206 Debating Texts: Theory in Literature

    Literature prompts debate, and speaks to us differently depending on the questions that we ask of it. This course looks at how our understanding of meaning in literature changes when we think about critical debates concerning the role of history, language and subjectivity in texts. We take three very different texts from different periods, and look at the ways in which the texts (and debates around them) raise questions of history, language and subjectivity, and how the texts comment on these issues. We begin with a classic of 19th century realism, Charles Dickens's HARD TIMES (1854), move on to the groundbreaking work of modernist experiment, Virginia Woolf's MRS DALLOWAY (1925), and end with a powerful example of postmodern representation, Toni Morrison's BELOVED (1987). The course will be taught by a formal lecture followed by a discussion forum, in which short passages of literary and theoretical text will be read and debated in the lecture theatre.

  • 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-394 Reading/Writing Trauma

    This option explores representations of trauma in English-language literature and translation. Discussion will focus on the popularisation of the trope of trauma as both a cultural phenomenon and an explanatory mode in contemporary discourses of history, personal identity, and cultural self-definition. How does the literature of trauma grapple with historical atrocities, imperatives to remember, and wilful forgetting by individuals and communities? Drawing on trauma theory, as well as psychoanalytical, postcolonial, and feminist theory, the seminar analyses the politics of representing violent woundings of human bodies and psyches ¿ through war, political violence, genocide, domestic abuse, racism, colonialism, and illness. We will explore the ethics of narrative witnessing and the dangers of appropriation, desensitization, and voyeurism raised by narratives of extreme violence and suffering. Finally, the seminar will address the consolatory and/or reparative implications of trauma literature and its potential socio-political impact.

  • 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.

  • EN-M74 Neo-Victorian Mutinies: Gender & Racial Trauma in Neo-Victorian Fiction (& Film)

    This module will explore the complex representations of gender and race in neo-Victorian literature (and possibly film), in the context of the genre¿s purported project of `liberating¿ historically marginalised or silenced voices and bearing after-witness to nineteenth-century violence and trauma. How does neo-Victorianism problematize ¿ but also at times re-inscribe ¿ discriminatory stereotypes of racial and gendered `Others¿? What are the ethical implications writers have to negotiate in depicting historical injustice and oppression, as well as resistance thereto, and how do they manage the potential pitfalls of reactionary nostalgia, historical distortion, voyeuristic spectacle, and escapism, which historical fiction is often charged with? This course will consider a range of neo-Victorian subgenres, including trauma narrative, crime fiction, Gothic and/or steampunk, to analyse how contemporary writers re-vision the Victorian age, especially its imperial and sexual politics, with self-conscious hindsight and irony.

  • EN-M80 Practising Ideas: Advanced Research Skills in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English

    This module is designed to introduce you to key practical and conceptual tools necessary for scholarship at Master¿s level and beyond. The aim is for you to gain the competencies and confidence to complete and enjoy the degree. In a seminar and occasional workshop format, you will practise a range of core professional research skills. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own learning and academic development to become a more independent and self-directed lifelong learner. You will produce a Portfolio of assessed work. These activities will support your work in other MA modules, particularly EN-M41 Research Practice and your EN-M31 Dissertation, while also equipping you with a set of transferable skills that are highly valued by many employers.

  • FY-017 Place, Memory and Identity in British and European Film and Literature

    Strongly linked with constructions of personal and national identity, place plays a crucial role in film and literature, as well as in visual art. Place also serves as a locus of personal and collective memory, in and through which historical traumas are enacted, inscribed, and commemorated. Yet particularly the natural world and rural spaces also seem to function as sources of refuge, (nostalgic) escapism, and resistance to socio-political conflicts and the pressures of modernity more generally. Through studying a selection of short English texts, including narrative fiction and poetry, and fiction films made in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, this module explores the memory politics involved in representations of place and of movement between places. Students will reflect on how place is employed to mediate and `work through¿ different forms of trauma and promotes a sense of belonging and/or exclusion from the human community. We also explore the loss of identity via tropes of `placelessness¿, . Particular attention will be paid to characters¿ connections to the land, and to how the natural world and its devastating exploitation impact interpersonal, inter-community, and human-nonhuman relations.


  • Daphne du Maurier: Gendering the Gothic (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Alice Barnaby
  • Feminine Subjects and the Gendered Imagination: Confession in Twentieth-Centuary English and German Language Literature. (awarded 2019)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof Julian Preece


Conference Keynotes, Guest Lectures, Invited Papers and Forum Contributions 

2015.   “Neo-Victorian ‘Re-Imagineerings’ of Urban Ethnoscapes on Screen: The Invisible Problem of Race in the Gothic Cityscape”, Invited Paper presented at the Transforming Cities conference, Braunschweig, Germany, 3-4 July 2015.

2014.   “Neo-Victorianism’s Death Wish: Musings on the Lure of Victorian Deathliness”, Guest Lecture presented at ‘What death can join together’: Neo-Victorian Mortalities in the 21st Century research seminar for the Death – Centre for Modern Studies research group, York University, UK, 26 November 2014.

2014.   “Neo-Victorian Doings and Undoings: The Nineteenth Century Remediated”, Joint Guest Lecture (with Christian Gutleben) presented to the Arts, Media, and Culture Research Group and the Centre for Gender and Diversity, Maastricht University, The Netherlands, 13 March 2014.

2013.   “Reciprocal Haunting in Ripper Street: Spectres of Twenty-First-Century Sexual Abuse in Neo-Victorian Media”, Guest Lecture presented at the Monsters and Detectives: Re-Writing the Victorians for Television and Radio symposium, Birkbeck University of London, UK. 23 November 2013.

2012.   “Worrying the Wound: The Appalling Fascinations of Neo-Victorian Traumata”, Keynote Lecture presented at the Wounded Bodies, Tortured Souls: Narratives of Victorian and Neo-Victorian Trauma postgraduate conference, University of Portsmouth, UK, 14 June 2012.

2011.   Guest participant at the forum ‘McJobs und die Zukunft der Geisteswissenschaften’ [‘McJobs and the Future of Arts and Humanities’], at the Anglistentag 2011 in Freiburg, Germany, 19-21 September 2011.

2011.   “Luscious Aftertastes: The Influence of Pre-Raphaelitism in Neo-Victorian Fiction”, Keynote Lecture presented at the Neo-Victorian Art and Aestheticism symposium, University of Hull, UK, 26 March 2011.

2010.   “Neo-Victorian Points of Departure and Destination (and Some Stopping Off Points In-Between)”, Guest Lecture presented at the Facultad Filosofía y Letras, University of Málaga, Spain (accompanied by neo-Victorian workshop for MA students), 20 May 2010.

2010.   “Mining the Neo-Victorian Vein: Prospecting for Gold, Buried Treasure, and Uncertain Metal”, Keynote Lecture presented at the Fashioning the Neo-Victorian: Iterations of the Nineteenth Century in Contemporary Literature and Culture conference at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, 8-10 April 2010.

2009.   “Neo-Victorianism as Postmodern Phenomenon: Re-Imagined Historical Violence, Narrative Traumatology and the Ethics of Cultural Memory”, Virtual Lecture presented at the Virtual Lectures from Across the Globe series for the Humanities Centre, Wayne State University, USA, 16 February 2009.

Other Recent Conference Papers

2015.   “Hair and Teeth, Skin and Bones: Reflections on Bodily Traces of Humanity”, presented at the Material Traces of the Past in Contemporary Literature conference, Universidad de Málaga, Malaga, Spain, 6-8 May 2015.

2013.   “The Thrills and Kills of Neo-Victorian Slumming: Revelling in Ripper Street”, presented at the Neo-Victorian Cultures: The Victorians Today conference at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK, 24-26 July 2013.

2012.   “The Gothic Puppetry of Lust and War: The Neo‐Victorian Underworlds of Kathe Koja’s Under the Poppy”, presented at the International Gothic Association Conference, Heidelberg, Germany 2-5 August 2012.

2011.   “The Trace of the Body in Poetry, Fiction, and Visual Art on the Holocaust”, presented at the Beyond Trauma: Narratives of (Im)Possibility in Contemporary Literatures in English conference at University of Zaragoza, Spain, 31 March - 2 April 2011.