My current research focuses on the figure of the reader as portrayed in nineteenth century literature and the wider social, cultural, and political implications of these representations and their place in time. Through this research I am able to combine my passions for Victorian literature, literary theory, and close reading. I am fascinated by the act of reading - how and why we read, the physical and emotional experience of reading, and why reading has the potential to be such an inflammatory act. My research addresses these broader questions, locating them within the complex, and often unforgiving, social structure of the Victorian period.
My thesis is split into two sections: The Woman Reader, and The Child Reader. Each section focuses on close readings from popular 19th century texts that feature a figure taking part in the act of reading. This representation of the reader is then contextualised within a wider framework of historical research and contemporary criticism, as well as a range of literary theory - including phenomenological, deconstructive, and psychoanalytical approaches to the texts. Through this I hope to show that a broader social commentary constantly presides over the loaded figure of the reader, and that this image is one of enduring importance and power.