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Prof Brycchan Carey

Professor of English

Department: Humanities

Brycchan has research and teaching interests in the literature and culture of the Atlantic world in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, in particular slavery and abolition, colonial America, and discourses of science and exploration.

Brycchan -Carey ,-Northumbria -Uni

I spent my childhood in the west of Cornwall before leaving in the mid-1980s without much of a life plan! After several years trying out various jobs including local radio and the wine trade, I returned to education to study English and History at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, before specialising in eighteenth-century literature for my MA and PhD at Queen Mary, University of London. I taught at Kingston University London from 2001 where I became a Reader in 2006 and a Professor in 2013. I left Kingston to take up my current position as Professor of English at Northumbria in 2016.

I specialise in the literature and culture of the Atlantic world and I have published extensively on the cultures of slavery and abolition, colonial America, and discourses of science and exploration in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially natural history and the early life sciences. To help develop my scientific understanding, I took a BSc in Natural Sciences with the Open University, which concluded with an ecological study of seaweed species on the Northumberland coast!

I am active within the scholarly community and have been Conference Organiser, Treasurer, and, most recently, International Officer of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Chair of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (UK and Ireland), and President of the Literary London Society. You can find more information about my research and career, as well as many free resources for studying literature, slavery, and empire, on my website.

Campus Address

Northumbria University
Lipman Building, Room 017
Newcastle upon Tyne


  • BA Hons English and History (Goldsmiths’, University of London)
  • BSc Hons Natural Sciences (Open University)
  • MA Writing and Society 1700–1820 (Queen Mary, University of London)
  • PhD The Rhetoric of Sensibility: Argument, Sentiment, and Slavery in the Late Eighteenth Century (Queen Mary, University of London)

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

I am interested in a wide range of topics ranging from seventeenth-century scientific discourse, eighteenth-century antislavery literature, to contemporary nature writing, with a particular emphasis on the literature and culture of the Atlantic world between 1650 and 1850.

My current research centres on the connected cultures of plantation management and natural history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I am completing a book on this subject called Unnatural Empire:Slavery, Abolition, and Colonial Natural History, 1650–1840, which is forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2018. This explores these cultures through poetry, novels, pamphlets, and scientific writing, and demonstrates their relationship with the growth of the British slave trade and the later development of the abolition movement.

I am currently also editing a collection of scholarly essays for Palgrave Macmillan on Early Caribbean Literary Histories (forthcoming 2017) as well as editing a new edition of The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789) for Oxford University Press (also forthcoming in 2017). I am in addition editing a collection of essays on birds in eighteenth-century literature, which is currently under review at an academic press.

My next major project will be a study of regional variation in the British antislavery movement, provisionally called Slavery and the British Literary Imagination. This will show how diverse cultures contributed to a national—and indeed international—political culture which, although far from perfect, nevertheless had ideals of liberty and toleration at its core. Although under constant attack, I argue, this culture continues to inspire and inform progressive and liberal political organisations to this day.

Teaching Interests

I have taught a great deal of modules over the years, many focusing on the literature of the long eighteenth century (1650–1850) but I have also taught subjects as diverse as early American literature, British science fiction, literary London, and writing and environment.

Key Publications


Quakers and Abolition, edited with an introduction by Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 25 May 2014).

From Peace to Freedom: Quaker Rhetoric and the Birth of American Antislavery, 1658-1761 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012).

Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition: Essays Marking the British Abolition Act of 1807 (Essays and Studies in Romanticism Series, 2007), edited with an introduction by Brycchan Carey and Peter Kitson (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2007).

British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment, and Slavery, 1760-1807 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Britain and its Colonies, 1760-1838, eds. Brycchan Carey, Markman Ellis, and Sara Salih (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).

Some Recent Articles

‘Anthony Benezet, Antislavery Rhetoric and the Age of Sensibility’, Quaker Studies, 21:2 (2016): 7–24.

‘From Guinea to Guernsey and Cornwall to the Caribbean: Remembering Slavery in the Western English Channel’, in Britain’s Memory of Slavery: Local Nuances of a “National Sin”, ed Katie Donnington, Ryan Hanley, and Jessica Moody (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2016), pp. 21–38.

‘“A new discovery of a new world”: the Moon and America in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European literature’, in Literature in the Age of Celestial Discovery: From Copernicus to Flamsteed, ed Judy A. Hayden (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), pp. 167–82.

‘The Poetics of Radical Abolitionism: Ann Yearsley’s Poem on the Inhumanity of the Slave Trade’, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 34:1 (Spring 2015): 89–105.

‘Deserted Village and Animated Nature: An Ecocritical Approach to Oliver Goldsmith’, in Voice and Context in Eighteenth-Century Verse: Order in Variety, ed Joanna Fowler and Allan Ingram (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 117–132.

‘To Force a Tear: Antislavery on the Eighteenth- Century London Stage’, in Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic: 1770–1830, ed Stephen Ahern (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), pp. 109–128.

Current/Recent Projects

I am currently chairing the committee organising the International Congress on the Enlightenment, which will be held in Edinburgh in July 2019. More information about this major international event can be found here.

Funding Awards and Fellowships

  • 2013:   Leverhulme Research Fellowship. To research Slavery and Environmental Consciousness in British Colonial Writing, 1660–1840 (£44,472)
  • 2010:   British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (£500)
  • 2010:   Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Leave Grant. To research Quaker Rhetoric and Transatlantic Antislavery, 1657-1761 (£29,392)
  • 2007:   British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (£500)
  • 2005:   British Academy British Conference Grant to support the 2005 Literary London conference (£839)
  • 2005:   HEFCE Promising Researchers Fellowship Scheme. To support a twelve-month fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania (£15,000)
  • 2005:   British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (£500)
  • 2004:   British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (£225)
  • 2003:   British Academy Overseas Conference Grant (£640)
  • 2003:   British Academy British Conference Grant to support the conference ‘Olaudah Equiano: Representation and Reality’ (£930)
  • 2001:   British Academy British Conference Grant to support the conference ‘Discourses of Slavery and Abolition: Writing in Britain and its Colonies, 1660-1838’ (£800)
  • 1996–1999: British Academy three-year PhD studentship
  • 1995–1996: British Academy one-year MA studentship

Postgraduate Supervision

I would be delighted to receive enquiries about supervising PhDs into any aspect of literature in the long eighteenth-century, or into environmental literature of any period. In particular I would welcome applications to conduct research into the literatures and cultures of early America and the Caribbean, especially slavery, abolition, and emancipation, as well as environmental literature, natural history, and nature writing before the twentieth century.

Affiliations and Memberships

  • Chair: Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (UK and Ireland)
  • International Officer: British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Member: British Association for Romantic Studies
  • Member: Early Caribbean Society
  • Member: Literary London Society
  • Member: Society of Early Americanists


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