English Language and Literature (UoA 29)
Research Excellence Framework 2014
Our English Language and Literature submission, University of Portsmouth’s first to this Unit of Assessment, comprised work by researchers based in the University’s research Centre for Studies in Literature (CSL), three of whom are early-career scholars. Research in CSL is organised in three clusters: Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Twentieth and Twenty-First Century British and American Literature, and Early Modern Writing. Two impact case studies were submitted from the nineteenth-century research strand which together were considered internationally recognised and a proportion deemed internationally excellent. Our research strengths and promising results provide a good foundation on which to build further successes in this field.
- 58.5% of our research outputs were deemed world leading or internationally excellent
- 24.4 % of our publications achieved a 4* rating
- 2.78 GPA for research outputs and our percentage of 4* publications positions us in the top 20 post-1992 HEIs
Research groups / Research themes
Nineteenth-century literature and culture
(Pulham, Wolfreys, Finnerty, Pittard, Boyce, Frost) – covering British, American, and European writers with special emphases on Victorian literature and the visual arts; science, evolutionary theory, and ecology; perceptions of landscape and space; transatlantic literature; fin-de-siècle culture; and women's writing.
Twentieth and twenty-first century British and American literature
(Wolfreys, Pulham, Berberich, Rousselot, Davies, Rosenquist, Wood) – covering Edwardian and modernist literature and culture; neo-Victorian fiction; the urban, and contemporary literature and theory.
Early modern writing
(Dew, Dyson, Finnerty) – covering specialisms from the Renaissance to the Romantic period, with special emphases on early modern drama, the history of science, and political thought.
Impact case studies
The home of great (crime) writing: developing Portsmouth as a literary and cultural centre
Dr Christopher Pittard’s (Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Portsmouth) research on Victorian popular culture and representations of criminality, including the intersections between Victorian science, criminology, and crime writing, and on the ways in which material and moral purity became central themes in Victorian crime narratives, have played a significant role in developing Portsmouth City Council’s cultural and tourism strategies. Building on Dr Pittard’s established research, including his 2006 work on Arthur Conan Doyle and the Strand Magazine which won the VanArsdel Prize for research in the field of Victorian periodicals, the University has informed the City Council’s literature strategy and the Home of Great Writing programme, helping to strengthen the reputation of Portsmouth as a thriving literary city, and have raised awareness locally, nationally and internationally, of the city’s significant associations with Arthur Conan Doyle. These initiatives are central facets of the Local Authority’s strategy for economic development and have shaped Cultural Services’ ongoing policy commitments.
Victorian literary heritage: promoting public engagement with Dickens and Tennyson
Focusing on the lives and works of Dickens and Tennyson, this case study demonstrates how a team of literary researchers at the University of Portsmouth has promoted public re-engagement with Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight’s literary heritage. Their research on questions of celebrity and social marginality has been adapted and exploited to interpret and disseminate the region’s cultural capital through public events, websites, and publications. Encouraging a fresh look at Dickens, Tennyson, and Victorian life, the impact of this research has increased public understanding of Victorian issues, and prompted local stakeholders to re-evaluate existing knowledge, policy and commercial practice.
Infrastructure and facilities
The University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Studies in Literature is located within the School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies, and is part of the wider Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Centre promotes and supports research excellence in literary studies and associated disciplines. Research is organised into three clusters; Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture; Twentieth and Twenty-First Century British and American Literature; and Early Modern Writing.
The Centre for Studies in Literature shares the services of a full-time Faculty Research Secretary, a Faculty Business Development Manager to support financial costings for events and external bids, and a Faculty Web Communication Officer for the maintenance of the Centre’s online presence. In addition, the centre is provided with a significant share of library research funds for the acquisition of materials and significant archives (e.g. Victorian Popular Culture collection, £23,500; Illustrated London News archive, £18,900).
Monitoring of the balance of various infrastructural and other resources is conducted through Faculty Research and KT Committee, on which the Directors of the Centre for Studies in Literature sit, and which is chaired by the Associate Dean (Research), a member of Faculty Senior Management reporting to the Dean and the Faculty Executive. All operational decisions are taken in the light of rolling Faculty Five-Year Plans, in which research activity is a prioritised area. Faculty Research and Knowledge Transfer Committees report to the University Research Committee (URC) which is chaired by the Pro-VC (Research). Research Governance is a standing agenda item on the URC: the University is a member of the UK Research Integrity Office and is working towards full compliance with The concordat to support research integrity.