School of the Arts, English and Drama

School staff

Dr Sarah Parker

Photo of Dr Sarah Parker

Lecturer in English

I arrived at Loughborough in 2016. I completed a Masters in Sexual Dissidence and Culture at the University of Sussex and gained my PhD at University of Birmingham in 2012. From 2013-2015, I was an Impact Research Fellow at the University of Stirling. My research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth-century literature, with an emphasis on women’s poetry, decadence and aestheticism, gender and sexualities, and visual cultures. 

I currently teach Narrative Forms and Fiction, Victorian Literature and Neo-Victorianism. At MA, I contribute to Texts and Technologies.

Specialism: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Literature


My research specialises in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature, with an emphasis on women’s writing, poetry, decadence and aestheticism, gender and sexualities, and visual cultures.

My first monograph, The Lesbian Muse and Poetic Identity, 1889-1930 reconsiders the role of the muse in late-Victorian and modernist women's poetry. Encompassing British and American women poets, I examine works by Michael Field (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper), Olive Custance, Amy Lowell, H.D. and Bryher.

I have also published articles and book chapters on Lord Alfred Douglas, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Sappho, Amy Levy, Djuna Barnes and Sarah Waters, and on themes such as fashion; 'dead woman muses'; food, fat and homoerotic desire, and lesbian gothic.

My current research project, provisionally entitled ‘Picturing the Poetess: Women Poets and Photography, 1850-1930’, focuses on the photographic representation of transatlantic women poets in the context of a burgeoning celebrity culture (including such Victorian phenomena as the celebrity scrapbook, the carte-de-visite, the annual, the National Portrait Gallery). I argue that women poets during this period developed promotional and self-fashioning strategies that ultimately mediated the reception of their work. Poets featured in this study include: Alice Meynell, Dollie Radford, Rosamund Marriott Watson, Constance Naden, Charlotte Mew, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edith Sitwell. A journal article on Millay is forthcoming from Women’s Studies.

In addition, I am currently preparing an essay collection on Michael Field (arising from the 2014 conference I co-organised with Ana Parejo Vadillo and Marion Thain) and I am a member of the editorial board for the Victorian Lives and Letters Consortium which is digitising Michael Field’s diaries.

I welcome proposals from potential research students interested in women’s writing of the period 1870-1930, decadence/aestheticism, and gender and sexuality during this time period.



The Lesbian Muse and Poetic Identity 1889-1930. London: Pickering & Chatto (now Routledge), 2013.


Refereed Journal Articles:


‘Framing the Poet: William Archer’s Poets of the Younger Generation (1902)’, Cahiers Victoriennes et Edwardiennes (Special Issue: Object Lessons) (2016, in press)


‘Publicity, Celebrity, Fashion: Photographing Edna St.Vincent Millay’, Women’s Studies: An inter-disciplinary journal, Volume 45, Issue 4, May 2016, pp. 380-402.


‘Fashion and Dress Culture’, Literature Compass (Victorian), Volume 11, Issue 8, 2014, 583-591


‘Fashioning Michael Field: Michael Field and Late-Victorian Dress Culture’, Journal of Victorian Culture, Volume 18, No. 3, 2013, 313-334.


‘“A Girl’s Love”: Lord Alfred Douglas as Homoerotic Muse in the Poetry of Olive Custance’, Women: A Cultural Review, Volume 22, No. 2-3, 2011, 220-240

‘“The darkness is the closet in which your lover roosts her heart”: Lesbians, Desire and the Gothic Genre’, Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2008, 4-19


Book Chapters:


‘Bittersweet: Michael Field’s Sapphic Palate’, Decadence and the Senses. Eds. Jane Desmarais and Alice Condé. Legenda, 2017 (forthcoming).


‘The Male Wound in Fin-de-Siècle Poetry’, The Male Body in Medicine and Literature, Ed. Andrew Mangham. Liverpool University Press, 2017 (forthcoming).


‘Urban Economies and the Dead Woman Muse in the Poetry of Amy Levy and Djuna Barnes’, in Economies of Desire at the Victorian Fin de Siècle: Libidinal Lives, eds. Jane Ford, Kim Edwards Keates and Patricia Pulham, Oxford: Routledge, 2016, 83-105


‘The Muse Writes Back: Lyric Poetry and Female Poetic Identity’, in Genre Trajectories: Identifying, Mapping, Projecting, eds. Garin Dowd and Natasha Rulyova. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015, 89-108


‘Amy Lowell’s Appetites’, Fat Sex: New Directions in Theory and Activism, eds. Helen Hester and Caroline Waters. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015, 159-180


‘Whose Muse? Sappho, Swinburne and Amy Lowell’, Algernon Charles Swinburne: Unofficial Laureate, eds. Catherine Maxwell and Stefano Evangelista. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013, 193-212

Recent Public Lectures and Talks:


September 2016

Invited lecture at Steepletop, home of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Austerlitz, New York)


July 2015

Public lecture on Edna St. Vincent Millay at the Library of Congress, Washington DC [available on YouTube:]


February 2015

After Oscar: The Unknown Story of Olive Custance, Lady Alfred Douglas

Manchester LGBT History Festival


Plenary lectures:


June 2016

Invited Keynote: ‘When the Muse Looks Back’

Postgraduate Symposium in Nineteenth-Century Studies, Anglia Ruskin University



Public Exhibitions


January to March 2015

Photographic Exhibition, ‘When the Muse Looks Back: Picturing the Poetess’

At the Pathfoot Gallery, University of Stirling, Scotland


Cultural Engagement work


Feb – May 2013

Worked with Cityread London ( as part of the AHRC Cultural Engagement Scheme with University of Leicester (see:


Board Memberships


Postdoctoral Representative, British Association of Victorian Studies (BAVS).

Committee Member, Midlands Interdisciplinary Victorian Studies seminar (MIVSS)