Dr Felicity James

james, felicityMA, M.St, D.Phil (Oxford), FHEA

Lecturer in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Literature

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Research Interests

Dr James works on late eighteenth and early nineteenth century literature, with a particular interest in sociability, friendship and creative exchange amongst writers, and in life-writing. She has written a number of articles on Charles Lamb and friendship amongst Romantic writers, and her book Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2008. She has also published on Lamb as a reader and critic of Shakespeare in Great Shakespeareans ed. Adrian Poole (Continuum: 2010).

Her current research focuses on Unitarian networks of readers and writers in the Romantic and Victorian periods, including authors such as Mary Hays, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, the Aikin family, Harriet Martineau and Elizabeth Gaskell. She is interested in family biographies and life-writing among Dissenters, and how we might read family interactions and writing practices. This is reflected in a collection of essays, Religious Dissent and the Aikin-Barbauld Circle, 1740 to 1860, co-edited with Prof. Ian Inkster published by Cambridge University Press (2011). She is interested more broadly in the presentation and reception of women writers, and her essay on Jane Austen and Chawton, 'At Home with Jane', was published in Uses of Austen: Jane Austen's Afterlives, ed. Gillian Dow and Clare Hanson (Palgrave: 2012).

She is vice-chairperson of the Charles Lamb Society and reviews editor for the Charles Lamb Bulletin. Each year she organises a study day relating to Charles Lamb and his circle. She is a trustee of the Wordsworth Conference Foundation, which holds a winter school and a summer conference, and will be a keynote speaker at the summer conference in 2014. She is on the editorial board of the Gaskell Journal and the University of Strasbourg journal, RANAM.


Dr James is now writing a monograph on Dissenting life-writing, particularly among women writers of Rational Dissent, from Mary Hays to Elizabeth Gaskell. This stems from research undertaken on a British Academy postdoctoral fellowship, on Dissent and life-writing. She has published several articles and essays relating to this research, including pieces on Mary Hays and Harriet Martineau. With Dr Julian North, she organised a conference Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian Biography, to be held in Leicester on 18 September 2015, which focussed on collaborative life-writing in the period and which will form the basis of a special issue of the journal Life-Writing.

This interest in forms of creative community, past and present, also informs her involvement in two AHRC projects. She is taking part in the AHRC-funded major research project 'Understanding Everyday Participation' to understand forms of cultural participation, past and present. She is also a member of the AHRC funded network Creative Communities 1750-1830, and participated in the 'Faith Communities' Workshop in Leeds, 5-6 April 2013, and 'Regional and National Networks' in Chawton, 24-25 January 2014. She was one of the plenary speakers at Community and its Limits, 1745-1832 at Leeds, 4-6 September 2015.

She is interested in establishing links with international researchers in the long nineteenth century: with other members of the Victorian Studies Centre, she received a UKIERI grant to participate in a staff exchange with Jadavpur University, Kolkata, in April 2012. She delivered a paper there on Amelia Opie and took part in research and teaching workshops. In July 2011 she held a JSPS Invitation Fellowship hosted by Prof. Kaz Oishi at the Graduate School of Letters at the University of Nagoya, as a result of which, she and Prof. Oishi jointly edited a volume of the journal Poetica, Cross-Cultural Negotiations: Romanticism, Mobility, and the Orient including her article on Lamb's friend Thomas Manning.

Postgraduate Supervision

Dr James is currently supervising a PhD by Rebecca Shuttleworth under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme, investigating 'Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick: Women's Writing in the Midlands, 1750-1850'. The second supervisor is Professor Roey Sweet. The starting point of this PhD is a case study of the archival collection of works by Heyrick and Watts in the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester, and Rutland, supervised by archivist Jess Jenkins.

Dr James is also currently supervising a PhD by Margriet Schippers on Elizabeth Gaskell and citizenship, and would welcome postgraduate students with research interests in any of the following:

  • Charles Lamb, Charles Lloyd, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and their circle.
  • Anna Letitia Barbauld and her circle.
  • Writing of the 1790s.
  • Romanticism and religious Dissent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (including but not limited to Unitarianism).
  • Life-writing, biography and autobiography in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Dr James sits on several thesis committees, and has examined M.Litt and PhD theses for the Open University, the University of Birmingham and the Sorbonne.

Teaching Qualifications

Dr James completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education at Leicester in 2013, with distinction. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Teaching and Administration


Recent Publications

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