School of English

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Colette Davies

Research Student,


Research Summary

PhD: English Literature. Full-time.

Thesis Title: The Minerva Press, Women Writers and the Literary Marketplace, 1770-1820.

Thesis Description:

The novels and women writers of the Minerva Press have often been dismissed as lowbrow and valueless. My thesis contributes to a new wave of scholarship which analyses and understands the value of the Minerva Press and its women writers in the formation of the Romantic-era novel as well as the Romantic-era literary marketplace. My study of the Press will shed important new light on interactions between authors, publishers and readers, and between culture, politics and society.

Building on Brewer's (1997) claim that 'the ways in which the arts worked in eighteenth-century England are often best understood…through…those we have now largely forgotten', my research explore novels written for the Minerva Press by a range of neglected professional women writers (e.g. Meeke, Helme, Charlton). These works contain politically-loaded characters, scenes and debates, and thus shed light on how women writers responded to a politically turbulent context. By analysing how the Minerva Press and its authors participated in wider literary networks (e.g. with publishers William Lane and John Murray, J.F. Hughes and Henry Colburn) I explore how they transformed the market for fiction in 1770-1820. I will expand current thinking by recasting Minerva Press novels as dynamic vehicles of social commentary, whose authors made inroads into a male-dominated literary marketplace.

This project addresses the following key research questions: How did the literary marketplace change between 1770-1820? How did the Minerva Press impact on this? Who were the Minerva Press writers? What socio-political debates did their novels engage with and why? Why was there a divide between contemporaneous critics' and readers' reactions to the Press? Does this account for its subsequent neglect?

PhD Supervisors:

Research Interests:

Romantic-era writing and the literary marketplace; women's writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; print culture; and the works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Amelia Opie, the Minerva Press writers.

Primary Funding Source:

AHRC Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership; full stipend.

Teaching Experience:

September 2016 - May 2017: Mentor to final-year undergraduate students at the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham.

I supported students in developing as independent learners in a collaborative pharmaceutical business setting by conducting regular team meetings, coaching them to reflect on and improve their pharmaceutical capability, and motivate them to achieve further. I was proactive in creating a facilitated learning environment for my groups by digitally tracking their achievements in relation to specific tasks and holding one-to-one sessions with them so that they could assess for themselves where and how they will improve.

This role furthered developed my skills in: mentoring and providing feedback; Higher Education teaching and learning; professional conduct; and analysing and evaluating hard and soft data and problem solving.

September 2014 - August 2016: Secondary School English Teacher, Harris Academy South Norwood, London.

I taught KS3, KS4 and engaged with KS5 students for two years whilst completing my PGCE in the first year, 2014-2015. Completing my PGCE through the Teach First scheme, graduating with Distinction and awarded Oftsed 'Outstanding' demonstrates my time-management and pedagogical skills. I engendered a love of reading literature within students to explore and play with the possibilities of language and interpretations.

I gave students personalised feedback on their work to assist them to reach their full potential and analyse data so as to plan future lessons to ensure progress. I contributed to the design of an engaging curriculum for KS4 students; this included creating schemes of work on A View from the Bridge, Twelfth Night and the enactment of gender in a range of Shakespeare's and Browning's texts. I contributed to the development of our staff by leading 'Teach Meet' sessions to share best practice.

Past Research

My thesis builds on my longstanding interest in women writers, fostered and developed throughout my academic career in by BA Hons English (University of Nottingham, 2011-14) and my MA English Literature (University of Nottingham, 2016-17).

My MA dissertation focussed on matrilineality in the literary marketplace of 1788-1815. I studied the fictions and wider literary interactions of Mary Wollstonecraft and Amelia Opie, analysing how they adapted the role of the mother in their fiction and drew on its associations for their own relationships with others in the literary marketplace.

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