RHUL English Research Forum next Thursday!

ERF Summer Term Meeting

Thursday 23rd May 2013

2 Gower Street, London WC1E 6DP

5-7 pm

Dr Brian Murray and Dr Alison Knight will be coming from Cambridge to talk about their postdoctoral research

on the Bible and Antiquity at CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities). You can read more about the research programme here http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/page/1112/bible–antiquity.htm

We very much look forward to welcoming them both.

The talks will be following by an informal question session over wine and nibbles.

**Please send us a note via the ERF blog contact page if you would like to attend, so that we can make sure there are enough chairs and bottles!**

See http://englishresearchforum.wordpress.com/ for more details!



Dr Brian Murray

Research Project

 The Coming of the Milesians: The Bible, Literature, and Classical Antiquity in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

My project investigates the ways in which Irish writers reacted to, and engaged with, the historiography of the Bible and classical antiquity in the long nineteenth century. More specifically, I’m interested in the ways in which authors inserted Ireland into biblical and classical chronologies, and how these efforts reflected archaeological, historical, theological, aesthetic and political debates in Britain and Europe during the period.

The tendency to view Irish cultural history as a progressive march towards independence, Home Rule, and republicanism has elided the extent to which the key political issues of the day were often religious or theological in nature. While nationalists and republicans took the best part of a century to win the majority of Irish people over to the idea of Home Rule and self determination, the disestablishment of the Anglican Church and the provision of Catholic schools and universities were topics which continually generated reams of print on both sides of the Irish Sea. The Catholic Irish were always eager to align themselves with the victims of ancient Roman imperialism (Jews, Greeks and even Celtic ‘Britons’). However, such analogies were always problematic. Nineteenth-century Irish Catholics commonly appealed to the power of the Roman papacy as a higher imperial power than Protestant Westminster, and with the reinstatement of the Catholic hierarchy in the United Kingdom in the 1850s, Protestants were quick to vocalise their unease at the increasingly pervasive powers of Catholic Rome.


Before joining CRASSH, I was Teaching Fellow in Victorian Literature at King’s College London and facilitator of the Leverhulme-funded research network Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World, 1851-1914.  I completed my PhD on Henry Morton Stanley and the literature of African exploration at King’s College London in 2011, having previously studied at Oxford and Trinity College Dublin. I have recently published articles on temporality and technology in Victorian exploration narratives, Dickens’s travel writing and Victorian Afrocentrism and I am currently editing a new edition of Stanley’s In Darkest Africa (1890) for Broadview Press.

Dr Alison Knight

Research Project

Alison is currently developing a project on the Bible and nationalism in nineteenth-century England. The tendency to focus on the Bible’s contributions to England’s shared language, history, and culture (as distinct from its spiritual role) is familiar to modern society, yet it represents a significant change in emphasis from most of the Bible’s history. The study and valorisation of the English Bible was a product of the nineteenth century; it was in this period that the Bible in English emerged as a scholarly discipline and cultural concern. This project investigates the growing emphasis on the Bible’s “Englishness” as a movement involving multiple confessional lines, and which was held in tension with the nineteenth century’s emerging understanding of what “Englishness” meant. The project examines materials such as scholarly histories of the English Bible, new editions of Renaissance and Medieval translations, museum exhibition catalogues, missionary manuals, and translation reference documents, as well as representations of the Bible’s Englishness in literature and visual art.


 Alison works on the Bible and religious literature in England. She has studied at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Cambridge. Her PhD work, jointly supervised by Brian Cummings (Sussex) and Christopher Burlinson (Cambridge), investigated sixteenth- and seventeenth-century methods of navigating the textual difficulties presented by the Bible. She is currently preparing it for publication as a monograph. She has work forthcoming in Studies in PhilologyThe Oxford Handbook to the Early Modern Bible, and an edited volume on the scholarly context of the King James Bible translation. Alison is the recipient of the John Donne Society’s John R. Roberts Award for Best Essay by a Postgraduate (on John Donne’s habits of scriptural misquotation), and has held research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust, and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Alison is now developing a project on the Bible and nationalism in nineteenth-century England.