By Emma Butcher
I’m writing this sat in my lovely new office. I’m not used to having a space all to myself, so it feels apt that my first ‘office of one’s own’ is situated in the Virginia Woolf Building. It’s quite a lovely moment at this point in the year, even if slightly chaotic, with the new term around the corner and the campus once again starting to bustle after a year and half’s painful lull caused by the pandemic.
I’m joining King’s this year as a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature, teaching some fantastic modules that move the humanities in challenging and interesting directions. For example, my MA module on ‘Man, Woman, Machine’ thinks about humankinds’ relationship to the body and the posthuman, whilst another first-year module ‘The Grotesque from Dickens to Dahl’, gets us all thinking about what it means to be ‘grotesque’ in body, mind and society. I also get to revisit my love of nineteenth-century classics, teaching on great modules such as ‘Memory and Time in the Nineteenth Century’. This module finally gave me the nudge to read David Copperfield, which, as a gal brought up in Great Yarmouth, I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. It was such an unexpected joy to read about all the places I grew up in Dickens’ hand, and even read Norfolk dialect without the need of a dictionary! I can’t wait to discuss these little moments of joy with my classes.
In terms of who I am as a researcher, I’ve always been interested in the extremities of human experience, my research broadly focussing on childhood and warfare in the nineteenth century. My PhD was on the Brontës and War, thinking about the relationship between this well-known literary family, and their digestion and reimagining of warfare (violence, trauma, masculinity) in their youthful fantasy writings. I then moved on to think of children’s experiences of warfare more broadly, and my book Children in the Age of Modern War, is due to be published by Oxford University Press next year. I’m especially interested in the agency of childhood, considering youth as important actors and witnesses in frontline and domestic theatres of war across time and space.
‘The Brontës and War’ was published as a monograph by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019
King’s is both renowned for its literature and war departments, so what a fantastic platform I have this year to explore my research and make new connections across the university. If you are a student with these interests, it would be wonderful to chat to you. You can find me in VWB, 7.40 during my office hour (Thursdays, 11.30-12.30), most likely typing away to myself and happily staring out at the Strand, thinking, how lucky I am to have my office with a such a view!
Blog posts on King’s English represent the views of the individual authors and neither those of the English Department, nor of King’s College London.
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