Dr Claire O'Callaghan


Pronouns: She/her
  • PGT Programme Co-Leader (English)
  • Senior Lecturer in English

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 gender, sexuality, identity, and the body. She is an expert on the lives and works Brontës and in the writing of Sarah Waters.

Claire gained her PhD from the University of Leicester. She holds a PGCHE from the University of Nottingham, and she is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Claire co-leads (with Dr Sara Read) the Health Humanities Research Group.

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 she also sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Gender StudiesThe Wilkie Collins Journal, and the book 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).

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 is in Victorian and neo-Victorian literature and culture, with an emphasis on gender, sexuality, identity, and the body from feminist and queer theoretical perspectives.

Claire is an expert on the lives and works of the Brontës. She is the author of Emily Brontë Reappraised (2018) and she has also published on Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Emily’s poetry, race in Wuthering Heights (and its afterlives for the forthcoming Edinburgh Companion to the Brontës and the Arts), and the portrayal of Branwell Brontë in Sally Wainwright’s To Walk Invisible. She has also co-edited a special issue of Brontë Studies on the theme of coarseness, and currently sits on the journal’s editorial board. Claire instigated and co-led the project #Brontë2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her most recent work (forthcoming, Women’s Writing) takes a fresh look at Charlotte Brontë’s letters from 1848 concerning Emily Brontë’s experience of tuberculosis. Claire’s current research gravitates around three other Brontë projects: the development of a monograph on queer theory and the Brontës (that builds on her article in Brontë Studies entitled ‘Reading Mr Rochester’s Coarseness Queerly’); a project on Charlotte Brontë’s historical novel, Shirley; and an article exploring the mythology of Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights and Haworth on Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

Beyond the Brontës, Claire writes and researches feminist and queer literature, history, and culture, and she is currently working on the life and work of the Victorian philanthropist and writer, Emily Faithfull. Within neo-Victorian studies, Claire is an expert on the novels of Sarah Waters. In addition to the edited collection, Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminisms (2016), her first book Sarah Waters: Gender and Sexual Politics (2017) remains the only monograph dedicated to Waters’s published works to date. Elsewhere in the field, Claire has written on the representation of gender and sexual violence in neo-Victorianism, including a chapter on Miss Havisham’s afterlives in the edited collection, Dickens After Dickens (2020), and she has co-authored (with Dr Anne-Marie Beller) a piece on the sexualisation and appropriation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in recent transmedia (2022).

Claire’s currently teaches on several modules in the undergraduate English degree programmes. In addition to supervising dissertations, she contributes to the core module Victorian Literature, co-leads (with Dr Sarah Parker) a module on queer identities and desires in literature and culture published between 1886 and 1952, and co-convenes (with Dr Anne-Marie Beller) an optional module on ‘Neo-Victorianism’. She also contributes to teaching on Eighteenth-Century Literature.

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 – Creative/critical project: The Things Which No One Can See
  • Lisa Climie-Somers – Unfaithful Women: Fanny Stenhouse
  • Adelle Hay – Anne Brontë: How Anne Has Been Edited Out of the Literary Canon
  • Isobel Sigley - A (New) Woman’s Touch: Tactility and Feminism in Women’s Fin-de-Siècle Short Fiction, 1880-1930
  • Becca Gadd - Forgotten Narratives: A Recovery Project into the works of Frances Burney (1752-1840)
  • ‘“She resolutely refuses to see a doctor”: Re-reading Emily Brontë and Tuberculosis in 1848; Or Charlotte Brontë, Sickness and Correspondence’, Women’s Writing (forthcoming, 2022).
  • ‘(In)Appropriating Alice: The Neo-Victorian Sexualization of Carroll’s Wonderland’, (with Claire O’Callaghan), in Alice in Wonderland in Film and Popular Culture, ed. Antonio Sanna. Palgrave, 2022
  •  ‘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.
  • Sarah Waters: GenderandSexualPolitics (2017, Bloomsbury)
  • ‘Neo-Victorian After Affects: The Scandalous Case of Isaac Baker Brown’, Victoriographies 6.2 (2016), pp. 147-164.