Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies

The Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies has a long-standing reputation as an internationally recognised centre of excellence devoted to reconsidering the concept of the Victorian for the contemporary world. 

Well-known for its interdisciplinary focus, the work of the Centre queries and ​tests chronological boundaries by reconsidering conceptions of the long nineteenth century, as well as examining representations of the Victorians and reconfigurations of Victorianism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The interdisciplinary focus has been extended to embrace creative writing, with practice-based researchers reimaging and reinterpreting the Victorian age through poetry.

The Centre tests geographical boundaries by considering what the concept of the Victorian meant on the world stage, including the British Empire. It generates impactful research, bringing insights from rigorous scholarly study to bear on urgent questions of social justice and inclusion, climate change and the environment. 

The Centre’s activities include: 

  • A programme of seminars and workshop events 
  • Conferences
  • Contributions to the Being Human Festival 
  • PhD supervision opportunities  
  • Sponsorship of the Journal of Victorian Culture 
  • An annual lecture by a Visiting Professor: previous appointees have included Professor Peter Mandler (Cambridge), Professor Dinah Birch (Liverpool), Professor Miles Taylor (York), Ann Heilmann (Cardiff) and Pratik Chakrabarti (Houston). 

You can more about our research projects and outputs through the University's Research database . Also see some highlights from the LCVS blog and more about our Directors and members below. 

From the LCVS blog

Grid card square. Blog

Marielle O'Neill

The Victorian roots of #MeToo. Marielle O'Neill discusses the work of pioneering feminist writer Virginia Woolf.

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Victorian marriage. Blog

Dr Anne Reus

How Romantic were Victorian marriages? Examining the work of Authors such as Margaret Oliphant and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

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‘1895 Four Lane Ends Farm, Whitby’ Courtesy of the Yorkshire Museum of Farming. Blog

Professor Karen Sayer

Agricultural Ganging in the Victorian Age

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Virginia Woolfs writing lodge. Blog

Revd Prof Jane de Gay

Home as sacred space: The Clapham Sect’s legacy for lockdown

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Directors and contact

LCVS Directors: Professor Karen Sayer, Professor Rev Jane de ​Gay, Dr Amina Alyal​.

For more information, please email lcvs@leedstrinity.ac.uk

Professor Karen Sayer

Prof Karen Sayer is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Senior Fellow of the HEA. Her research focus is on the rural, that is conceptualisations of rural communities, landscapes and environments; human and animal relations in agricultural work and on the farm; labour in field, farm and home; the interior spaces of farmhouse and cottage, as represented, worked and lived.

Within the Leeds Centre of Victorian Studies and its wider networks, she draws on material culture, illustration and text to work on Victorian social and cultural history of landscapes of marginal spaces and experiences, e.g. nocturnal landscapes of waterways, rivers and coastlines, material technologies of sight and sound, cultures of light and illumination, the aesthetics and material cultures of hearing loss.

Prof Sayer is currently working on a monograph for Routledge, Farm Animals in Britain, 1850-2001, an environmental and cultural history project focused on farming, which addresses the changing social spaces inhabited by the farmed animal. It addresses the cultural understanding and representation of the farmed animal, as well as farming methods, and the changing spaces of the farm in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

View Professor Karen Sayer's full profile and research outputs on our Research Portal.

Professor Karen Sayer writing at a desk.

Professor Jane de Gay

Jane de Gay is Professor of English Literature at Leeds Trinity University and honorary Associate Priest and Lecturer at Leeds Minster. 

Jane is the author of Virginia Woolf and Christian Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2018), a wide-ranging, comprehensive study which reveals that Virginia Woolf was profoundly interested in, and knowledgeable about, Christianity as a faith and as a socio-political movement. The book explores Woolf’s family background including her abolitionist ancestors in the Clapham Sect. Jane’s first monograph, Virginia Woolf’s Novels and the Literary Past (Edinburgh University Press, 2006), was the first book to explore Woolf’s preoccupation with the literary past and its profound impact on the content and structure of her novels. The book includes an examination of Woolf’s reactions to Romantic and Victorian writers such as: Jane Austen, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron and Shelley, Leslie Stephen, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and the Brontës.  

Jane has supervised PhD and MBR projects on Victorian-related topics, including Virginia Woolf and the Victorians (women writers; Julia Margaret Cameron, Anne Thackeray Ritchie and Julia Prinsep Stephen; Leslie Stephen); Victorian respectability; Benjamin Bailey; Field Marshal Lord Nicholson; and Queen Victoria as a middle-class icon. 

Jane has organized several conferences and colloquia through the LCVS, including the 26th International Virginia Woolf Conference: Virginia Woolf and Heritage (16-19 June 2016), which brought over 220 international scholars to campus. 

View Jane de Gay's full profile and research outputs on our Research Portal.

Professor Jane de Gay, with shoulder length dark hair in a pink top. Holding her book Virginia Woolf and Christian Culture..