Dr Claire O’Callaghan joined Loughborough in May 2018 as one of the University’s prestigious ‘Excellence 100’ appointments. Her research interests lie in Victorian and neo-Victorian studies, with a focus on the politics of gender, sexuality and identity. She is an expert on the lives and works Brontës and in the writing of the contemporary novelist, Sarah Waters.

Claire gained her PhD from the University of Leicester. She holds a PGCHE from the University of Nottingham, and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She co-leads (with Dr Paul Jenner) the Contemporary Research Group, and she is the Champion for Doctoral Research Culture in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities.

Beyond Loughborough, Claire co-convenes the ‘Third Sex’ (LGBTQIA+) reading group for the Victorian Popular Fiction Association (VPFA). She is also an Associate Editor for Brontë Studies, and sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Gender Studies and The Wilkie Collins Journal, and the series, Contemporary Women’s Writing (Palgrave Macmillan), Gender and the Body in Literature and Culture (Edinburgh University Press), and Discourse, Power and Society (Rowman and Littlefield). She is also on the Executive of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association (CWWA).

Claire has worked with the media in various guises and has contributed to news articles, programmes for television (including The Secret Life of Emily Brontë and Britain’s Novel Landscapes for Channel 4, Britain by Book for Channel 5) and radio. She has worked as a historical advisor on creative projects, including an original radio drama for Audible. Claire has spoken at a range of literary and public events, including the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Durham Book Festival, and Books on Tyne. She has written shorter pieces for BBC History Magazine and History Today.

Claire’s research interests extend across Victorian and neo-Victorian literature and culture (including adaptations and period drama), and women’s writing, with an emphasis on gender, sexuality, identity, and the body. Her research typically explores the representation of marginalised figures, groups and histories from both feminist and queer perspectives.

Claire is currently working on several research projects, including materials on gender and sexual violence in neo-Victorianism, and queer theory and the Brontës. Following her first monograph on Sarah Waters, Claire continues to work on Waters’s fictions. She is also beginning new research into the life and work of the Victorian feminist philanthropist, Emily Faithfull.

Claire is the author of Sarah Waters: Gender and Sexuality Politics (2018), and Emily Brontë Reappraised (2018). She is also the co-editor (with Adele Jones) of Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminisms, and Gender and Austerity in Popular Culture: Femininity, Masculinity and Recession in Film and Television (2016) (with Helen Davies). Claire has co-edited a special issue of Brontë Studies based on the theme of coarseness.

Claire’s currently teaches on several modules in the undergraduate English degree programmes. In addition to supervising dissertations, she contributes to Victorian Literature, leads a module on mental health in literature and culture, and co-convenes (with Dr Anne-Marie Beller), an optional module on ‘Neo-Victorianism’.

In 2020, Claire was, with Anne-Marie Beller, awarded the School Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) prize in recognition of their commitment to teaching EDI issues. She has been nominated for several teaching awards for teaching excellence.

Current students

  • James Barker
  • Lisa Climie-Somers
  • Adelle Hay
  • Isobel Sigley
  • Becca Gadd

Claire welcomes proposals from prospective PhD students in any area of mid-Victorian or neo-Victorian literature and culture. She especially welcomes projects on Sarah Waters.

  • ‘Pronouns are Problematic: The Trans* Body and Gender Theory; Or, Revisiting the Neo-Victorian Wo/Man’, Neo-Victorian Studies 13:1(2020), 75-99. 
  • ‘Awaiting the death blow’: gendered violence and Miss Havisham’s afterlives’. In Bell, E (ed) Dickens After Dickens, White Rose University Press, 2020, pp.83-100.
  • “‘He is rather peculiar, perhaps”: Jane Eyre in a Queer Context; or, reading Mr Rochester’s coarseness queerly’, Brontë Studies (2018), 44:1, pp. 123-135.
  • ‘A poet, a solitiary’: Emily Brontë – Queerness, Quietness and Solitude, Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature (2018), 134, pp. 204-217.
  • ‘Killing the Angel: Violence and Victim-blaming in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’, Intersections of Gender, Class, and Race in the Long Nineteenth Century and Beyond, ed. by Barbara Leonardi (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 297-320.
  • ‘“Little Things”’: Writing the Sexual Revolution’, Flower/Power: British Literature in Transition, volume 2, 1960-1980, ed. by Kate McLoughlin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 197-210.
  • ‘Pride versus Prejudice: Wound Men, Masculinity and Disability in Julian Fellowes’s Downton Abbey’, Conflicting Masculinities: Men in Television Period Drama, ed. by Katherine Byrne, James Leggott and Julie Anne Taddeo (I. B. Tauris, 2018), pp. 187-205.
  • Sarah Waters: Gender and Sexual Politics (2017, Bloomsbury)
  • ‘Neo-Victorian After Affects: The Scandalous Case of Isaac Baker Brown’, Victoriographies 6.2 (2016), pp. 147-164.