Carolyn Lyle talks about her recent research leave

The bulk of my efforts were devoted to extending research on my designated research project. I had already presented a paper on it at the Bram Stoker Centenary Conference: Bram Stoker and Gothic Transformations, at the University of Hull, on April 14, 2012. As well as assessing Raffles’ Gothic potential in general, I needed to investigate further the theory of W. E. Hornung’s biographer that the character and adventures of Raffles’ were to a certain extent inspired by the experiences of Oscar Wilde, during his trial, imprisonment, and subsequent demise, and to add in the Gothic dimension that he had missed. This required the study of theories on connections between the queer and the Gothic, and also of specific details about the 3 trials involving Oscar Wilde, with particular reference to the way in which they were reported in the newspapers.


Reading University Library was currently offering a wide range of newspapers online, and I was lucky enough to find what I needed, particularly in Reynold’s Newspaper, a Sunday paper whose views were particularly liberal and whose supply of detail was particularly frank, before the newspapers went off line again. (Luckily I had printed some vital pages.) I had previously been to the Bodleian Library at Oxford to consult early publications of Raffles stories in Cassell’s Magazine, and get some pictures, originally for the conference but with subsequent publication in mind., which continue to be very helpful. I have submitted it for publication but the more I think about it the more convinced I am becoming that what started as a general Gothic study may need to be adapted into more specific interrogation of some assumptions about connections between the queer and the Gothic and, more crucially, the queer and homosexuality. As a character who is at his most Gothic when he is at his most heterosexual, Raffles raises some interesting questions.

I also decided to rewrite a previous attempt at an article on bloody writ on the English stage, concentrating on the Renaissance period and referencing more critics on literature in general as well as those who were concentrating on the materiality of written documents in particular. It has led me to a new conclusion about exactly why it is that dramatists seem to be fundamentally hostile to the paperwork within their plays.

At the Early Modern Studies Conference at Reading University I delivered a paper entitled ‘Putting Women in the Picture’, Saturday 14 July, 2012.

I successfully submitted a proposal for a paper at the forthcoming British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies January 3-5, 2013 conference, entitled ‘“An uncommon scene of industry, and a melancholy idea of adversity”: some attempts of eighteenth-century Englishwomen to make money.’ It takes as its central topic an 80-year-old woman who, through sheer misfortune, became destitute and supplemented her parish allowance by getting up at 3 a.m. every morning to collect horse dung from passing wagons, which she sold to local farmers, carrying it in her apron. Her fellow-parishioners were so touched by her determination to avoid becoming a greater burden to the parish that they charitably clubbed together and gave her a wheelbarrow.

I accepted an invitation from Jessica Hughes of the Classics Department of The Open University to participate in the live website on Tools for Classical Reception Studies.

English Literature section of the Tools for Classical Reception Studies website on


About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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