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Professor Martin Willis

Professor in English Literature

+44 (0)20 350 68983 m.willis@westminster.ac.uk Room 301, 32–38 Wells St, London W1T 3UW Tuesdays 12.30–1.30pm; Wednesdays 2.30–3.30pm
Martin Willis

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Social Sciences and Humanities | Faculty
English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies | Department
Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture; Centre for Science and Imagination; Literary Studies | Research

Martin Willis works on literature, science and medicine, 1800 to the present.

I joined the English department at Westminster in January 2013, having worked previously at the Universities of Edinburgh, Worcester and Glamorgan. I also undertook my doctoral work at the University of Edinburgh. In the latter two posts I spent some time leading the respective Departments of English and at Glamorgan was also the Director of the Research Centre for Literature, Arts and Science, funded initially by HEFCW.

Presently I hold a personal Chair at Westminster as Professor of Science, Literature and Communication and I also hold the position of Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Cardiff School of Medicine, where I advise on medical education and the history of medicine.

I am not undertaking any teaching during a period of research leave in 2013.

My teaching expertise is in Nineteenth-century Literature, both British and American. I also teach specific genres: primarily Gothic Literature and Crime Fiction. I have contributed to numerous English Literature survey modules: from English study skills and period study to theoretical and methodological perspectives.

My central teaching focus, however, is literature and science. I have taught this widely, to both undergraduate and postgraduate students and have supervised MA and PhD research in this area. In addition I have had the opportunity to influence the teaching of literature and science internationally through cross-University initiatives and external examining.

My research career focuses on the study of the inter-relationships between literature and science. My first monograph, Mesmerists, Monsters and Machines: Science Fiction and the Cultures of Science in the Nineteenth Century (2006) reconsidered canonical nineteenth-century science fictions in the context of the history of science. My second monograph, Vision, Science and Literature, 1870-1920: Ocular Horizons (2011) investigated Victorian and modern ways of seeing in the visual sciences, literature and dramatic performance. In 2012, this book was awarded both the British Society for Literature and Science Book Prize and the European Society for the Study of English Cultural Studies Book Prize.

My present research has two directions. First, I am beginning the work for a third monograph on the history of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and its relationship to literature, creativity and the imagination. Looking across the history of this key organisation for the creation of modern British scientific cultures I am asking how far, and in what ways, the imagination played a role in its representation, dissemination and practice of science.

Second, I am investigating narratives of illness, with a particular interest in how these are presently understood by medical humanities scholarship. I am considering illness narratives in the Victorian period and the contemporary world and across a range of different forms: in fiction, medical case histories, and on television. Much of this work is undertaken in collaboration with Professor Keir Waddington, historian of medicine at Cardiff University. Together we lead the Collaborative Interdisciplinary Study of Science, Medicine and Imagination Research Group.

In addition, in 2013 I am completing the Readers' Guide to Essential Criticism in Literature and Science, to be published in the series of such guides by Palgrave Macmillan.

I have led research projects related to all of these areas of interest with the support of funding awards from the British Academy, The Wellcome Trust, HEFCW, Strategic Insight Programme, and Cardiff Humanities Research Institute.

This is a selection of publications, more can be found on WestminsterResearch, our online research repository.

Imaginary investments: illness narratives beyond the gaze

Willis, Martin and Waddington, Keir and Marsden, Richard (2013) Imaginary investments: illness narratives beyond the gaze. Journal of Literature and Science, 6 (1). pp. 55-73. ISSN 1754-646X

Victorian archaeology

Warwick, Alexandra and Willis, Martin, eds. (2012) Victorian archaeology. Literature and Science Series . University of Wales Press. (In Press)

Objects of archaeology

Warwick, Alexandra (2012) Objects of archaeology. In: Warwick, Alexandra and Willis, Martin, (eds.) Victorian archaeology. Literature and Science Series . University of Wales Press. (In Press)

Victorian realism and the gothic: objects of terror transformed

Willis, Martin (2012) Victorian realism and the gothic: objects of terror transformed. In: Hughes, William and Smith, A., (eds.) The Victorian gothic: an Edinburgh companion. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 15-28. ISBN 9780748642496

On wonder: situating the spectacle in spiritualism and performance magic

Willis, Martin (2012) On wonder: situating the spectacle in spiritualism and performance magic. In: Kember, Joe and Plunkett, John and Sullivan, Jill A., (eds.) Popular exhibitions, science and showmanship, 1840-1910. Pickering and Chatto, pp. 167-182. ISBN 9781848933064

Objects of terror transformed: Victorian realism and the gothic

Willis, Martin (2012) Objects of terror transformed: Victorian realism and the gothic. In: Smith, A. and Hughes, W., (eds.) The Victorian gothic: an Edinburgh companion. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 15-28. ISBN 9780748642496

Vision, science and literature, 1870-1920: ocular horizons

Willis, Martin (2011) Vision, science and literature, 1870-1920: ocular horizons. Pickering & Chatto. ISBN 9781848932340

The Victorian literature handbook

Warwick, Alexandra and Willis, Martin, eds. (2008) The Victorian literature handbook. Continuum Books, London. ISBN 978082649576

Introduction and timeline

Warwick, Alexandra and Willis, Martin (2008) Introduction and timeline. In: Warwick, Alexandra and Willis, Martin, (eds.) The Victorian literature handbook. Continuum Books, London, pp. 1-26. ISBN 978082649576

The historical context of Victorian literature

Warwick, Alexandra (2008) The historical context of Victorian literature. In: Warwick, Alexandra and Willis, Martin, (eds.) The Victorian literature handbook. Continuum Books, London, pp. 27-43. ISBN 978082649576

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