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Dr Leigh Wetherall Dickson

Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century English Literature

Department: Humanities

ADSS Leighwetheralldickson Staffprofile 255My first degree was a BA in English Studies at Sheffield Hallam, followed by a PhD. In December 2006 I first joined Northumbria as the Leverhulme Research Associate for the three-year project 'Before Depression: Representation and Culture of the English Malady, 1660-1800', and have since become a full-time lecturer in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century English Literature at Northumbria.

Campus Address

Office: Lipman 403

0191 227 3277

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

I am Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Literature at Northumbria University and first 'discovered' Caroline Lamb whilst an undergraduate. Lamb was the subject of my undergraduate dissertation, which laid the groundwork for my PhD. I was fascinated by the discrepancy between her historical reputation as a madwoman and the astute criticism of her milieu that I found in her novels, and I concentrated upon what I understood to be a cultural construction of a reputation for madness and the mechanisms that made that historical mud stick. I have since developed this interest into an interrogation into the varying types of fame emerging in the late-eighteenth / early-nineteenth century, and the relationships between fame, culture, commodity and illness. I have recently discovered Jeremy Hawthorn’s idea that as readers / viewers we become ‘peeping toms’, spying on fictional characters, observing their  private lives and most intimate secrets while safe in the knowledge that they are totally unaware of us. This suggestion lends an intriguing avenue of interrogation to texts that are fully aware of a public hungry for information upon scandal and celebrity, as well as narratives that take the reader into its own heart of darkness, such as slum narratives and disturbed states of mind.

Key Publications

Journal articles and book chapters

‘“A written monologue by that most interesting being, myself”: Sickness, Sympathy and Self-Validation in Diary of Alice James’, Studies in Literary Imagination 48:1 (Spring, 2015).

‘“What a Creature is Man!”: The Melancholy, Literary Ambition and Manly Fortitude of Robert Burns’, Order in Variety: Voice and Context in Eighteenth-Century Verse (Palgrave, 2015).

‘Syphilis and Sociability: The Impolite Bodies of James Boswell and Sylas Neville’, The Male Body in Medicine and Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2016).

‘“The French, alas, are happy, while the English seek to be so”: Subverting the Melancholy Stereotype in Georgiana Cavendish’s The Sylph’, La Sociabilité en France et en Grande-Breatagne au Siècle des Lumières: L’emergence d’un nouveau modele de societe, Volume 2 (Paris: Editions Le Manuscrit, 2015).

‘A Written Warning: Lady Caroline Lamb’s Aristocracy and Appropriation of John Ford’, Shakespeare and Romanticism, ed. J.M. Oritz (Ashgate, 2013).


Edited volumes

General editor, Depression and Melancholy 1660-1800, 4 volumes (Pickering & Chatto, 2012).

Editor: ‘Autobiography’, Volume 3, Depression and Melancholy 1660-1800 (Pickering & Chatto).

Co-editor: ‘Popular Culture’, Volume 4, Depression and Melancholy 1660-1800 (Pickering & Chatto).

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