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Professor Ruth Robbins - Leeds Beckett. Leeds, West Yorkshire, GB

Professor Ruth Robbins

Director of Research | Leeds Beckett University

Leeds, West Yorkshire, UNITED KINGDOM

Ruth Robbins has a wide range of research interests which span the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.



Professor Ruth Robbins Publication Professor Ruth Robbins Publication Professor Ruth Robbins Publication Professor Ruth Robbins Publication



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Leeds Cultural Conversations - The Trials of Oscar Wilde’s Salome - Professor Ruth Robbins


Research and enterprise #6: Bodies In-form-ation Professor Ruth Robbins: Virginia Woolf and the making of modern sexualities



Ruth Robbins is Professor in English Literature and Director of Research for the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities. She has a wide range of research interests which span the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ruth's research interests centred originally on the late-Victorian period in English literature, especially the literature of Decadence, including the writings of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Symons and Vernon Lee - her book Pater to Forster, 1873-1924 (2003) deals with literature written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century period, and the edited collection Victorian Gothic considers that same period from the perspective of its supernatural and ghostly tales. Her most recent monograph, Oscar Wilde (2011) revisits her interests in the fin de siècle; additionally she is co-author of a book on the British Short Story (with Emma Liggins and Andrew Maunder, 2010). She also has research interests in literary theory, particularly post-structuralist theories and a wide range of feminist positions; her first book, Literary Feminisms, was published in 2000, and she edited, with Julian Wolfreys, two collections of essays concerned with the works of Jacques Derrida. Ruth also has interests in autobiographical writing. Her monograph Subjectivity was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2005. She has also published on women and the medical profession (Medical Advice for Women, 1830-1914 for Routledge, an anthology of nineteenth-century texts on the subject, was published by Routledge in 2009). Her most recent book-length publication is the edited collection (with Christopher Webster) Through the Pages: The Leeds Library at 250, which draws together local historians, library staff and local poets and fiction writers to celebrate the history of this Leeds landmark.

Ruth has experience of research supervision and is keen to work with students on any of the areas of her research interests, i.e. nineteenth-century literature; feminism and poststructuralism; autobiography; and women and the medical profession in the nineteenth-century; Victorian and early modernist literature more generally; contemporary women's writing.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing



Areas of Expertise (5)


Virginia Woolf




Languages (2)

  • French
  • English

Media Appearances (2)

How to Tell a Ghost Story

The New York Times Magazine  online


“The most important thing is the setting,” says Ruth Robbins, professor of Victorian literature at Leeds Beckett University in England. “In the 19th century, ghost stories were read aloud so that the atmosphere set people up to be pleasurably scared in a communal way.” Britons in the Victorian era were obsessed with ghost stories because they reflected uncertain times — the Industrial Revolution, a move to urban living and technological advances like the telegraph, a supernatural-seeming invention.

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Ghost stories: why the Victorians were so spookily good at them

The Guardian  online


What had raised all these apparitions from the dead? The most straightforward explanation is the rise of the periodical press, says Ruth Robbins, professor of English literature at Leeds Metropolitan University. Ghost stories had traditionally been an oral form, but publishers suddenly needed a mass of content, and ghost stories fitted the bill – short, cheap, generic, repetitive, able to be cut quite easily to length.

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Articles (4)

Man-made Fibres? The Split Personalities of Victorian Manliness


2014 This essay investigates the textual traces of a split that was central to the Victorian conception of manliness: the contradiction of gentlemanliness which demanded both the capacity to commit violence and the requirement to be ‘civilised’. It suggests that there is a fault line running through the fabric of masculinity which can be seen in the texts which train boys to become men, which remember and reconstruct that training, and which consider manliness in its mature forms.

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Long Shadow: Victorian Themes and Forms in the Edwardian Provincial Novel – Arnold Bennett and D.H. Lawrence


2011 Anxious as it was to distance itself from the Victorian period, the Edwardian novel in fact makes extensive use of the themes and forms of the nineteenth-century novel. It draws on realist conventions of the previous period, even as it also adapts them. And novelists remained concerned with the legendary limitations on sexual mores and their expression in their writing.

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Hidden lives and ladies’ maids: Margaret Forster's Elizabeth Barrett Brownings

Women: a cultural review

2004 Only on the back of an economic surplus can you float a full-time intelligentsia; before that point, the thinkers have to pitch in with the hunters. 'I think, therefore somebody has been doing the donkeywork' might be the anti-Cartesian motto of this vein of inquiry.

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How Do I Look? Villette and Looking Different(ly)

Brontë Studies

2003 Unlike Jane Eyre where Charlotte Brontë tells a story truthfully and faithfully, of what she saw, Villette provides a Gothic uncertainty in its many levels of ambiguity. Unlike the standard feminine ideal of the time, Lucy Snowe does not passively accept how others view her, but takes a masculine, autonomous, predative view of others.

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