People

Professor Gowan Dawson

Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture

Gowan Dawson

School/Department: School of Arts, Media and Communication / English

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2779

Email: gd31@leicester.ac.uk

Profile

I am Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture in the Centre for Victorian Studies, which is the UK’s longest established specialist centre for research and teaching on the Victorian period. I am also Deputy Dean of Research and Enterprise for the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities.
My main research interests lie in the nineteenth century, especially in literature and science and the cultural history of science, as well as in the print culture of the period. I have authored four books and edited eight more on these subjects. These include Monkey to Man: The Evolution of the March of Progress Image (Yale University Press, 2024); Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (University of Chicago Press, 2016); and Darwin, Literature and Victorian Respectability (Cambridge University Press, 2007). And as editor, Science Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Constructing Scientific Communities (University of Chicago Press, 2020); Victorian Scientific Naturalism: Community, Identity, Continuity (University of Chicago Press, 2014); and Victorian Science and Literature, 8 vols. (Pickering and Chatto, 2011-12).
I have twice held Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships (2012 and 2020), and was Co-Investigator, with Sally Shuttleworth (University of Oxford), of the Arts and Humanities Research Council large grant 'Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries' (2014-19). My research has also been supported by grants from the British Academy; the UK-India Education and Research Initiative; the National Science Foundation (USA); and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
I am an Honorary Research Fellow of the Natural History Museum, London, and serve on the grants (Lisa Jardine Grant) and library committees of the Royal Society. I am also on the editorial boards of the British Journal for the History of Science; the Journal of Victorian Culture; and Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science.

Research

My research combines cultural, literary and art history with the history of science and book history. I am the author of Monkey to Man: The Evolution of the March of Progress Image (Yale University Press, 2024); Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (University of Chicago Press, 2016); and Darwin, Literature and Victorian Respectability (Cambridge University Press, 2007); and co-author of Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2004). I am co-editor of Science Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Constructing Scientific Communities (University of Chicago Press, 2020); Victorian Scientific Naturalism: Community, Identity, Continuity (University of Chicago Press, 2014); and Victorian Science and Literature, 8 vols. (Pickering and Chatto, 2011-12). I have also published articles on Dickens, Thackeray, Walter Pater and D.G. Rossetti in Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, the Journal of Victorian Culture, English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 and Victorian Poetry. I have been awarded two Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowships and have also received research grants from the AHRC, the British Academy, the National Science Foundation (USA), the UK-India Education and Research Initiative and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Publications

Books

  • Monkey to Man: The Evolution of the March of Progress Image (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2024)
  • Show Me the Bone: Reconstructing Prehistoric Monsters in Nineteenth-Century Britain and America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016)
  • Darwin, Literature and Victorian Respectability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • With Geoffrey Cantor, Richard Noakes, Sally Shuttleworth and Jonathan R. Topham,Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Edited books (selected)

  • With Matthew Stanley and Matthew Wale, The Correspondence of John Tyndall, vol. 14: 1873-75 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2024)
  • With Bernard Lightman, Sally Shuttleworth and Jonathan R. Topham, Science Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Constructing Scientific Communities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020)
  • With Geoffrey Cantor, The Correspondence of John Tyndall, vol. 1: 1840-43 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016)
  • With Bernard Lightman, Victorian Scientific Naturalism: Community, Identity, Continuity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014)
  • With Bernard Lightman, Victorian Science and Literature, 8 vols. (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2011-12)
  • With Laurel Brake and Marysa Demoor et al., Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (London: British Library, 2009)
  • With Sally Shuttleworth, Victorian Poetry, special number on Science and Victorian Poetry, 41 (2003)

Articles (selected)

  • 'Dickens, Dinosaurs, and Design', Victorian Literature and Culture 44 (2016), 761-78
  • 'Up in the Air: Evolution and Victorian Culture', Victorian Review 41 (2015), 9-13
  • 'Darwin Decentred', Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46 (2014), 93-96
  • 'Paleontology in Parts: Richard Owen, William John Broderip, and the Serialization of Science in Early Victorian Britain', Isis 103 (2012), 637-67
  • 'Literary Megatheriums and Loose Baggy Monsters: Paleontology and the Victorian Novel', Victorian Studies 53 (2011), 203-30
  • 'By a Comparison of Incidents and Dialogue: Richard Owen, Comparative Anatomy and Victorian Serial Fiction', 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 11 (2010), 1-18
  • 'Literature and Science under the Microscope', Journal of Victorian Culture 11 (2006), 301-15
  • 'Walter Pater's Marius the Epicurean and the Discourse of Science in Macmillan's Magazine: A Creature of the Nineteenth Century', English Literature in Transition 1880-1920 48 (2005), 38-54
  • 'Intrinsic Earthliness: Science, Materialism, and the Fleshly School of Poetry', Victorian Poetry 41 (2003), 113-29
  • 'Stranger than Fiction: Spiritualism, Intertextuality and William Makepeace Thackeray's Editorship of the Cornhill Magazine 1860-62', Journal of Victorian Culture 7 (2002), 220-38

Chapters (selected)

  • 'An Independent Publication for Geologists: The Geological Society, Commercial Journals, and the Remaking of Nineteenth-Century Geology', in Science Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Constructing Scientific Communities, ed. Gowan Dawson, Bernard Lightman, Sally Shuttleworth and Jonathan R. Topham (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020), 137–71
  • 'The Cross-Examination of the Physiologist: T. H. Huxley and the Resurrection', in The Metaphysical Society (1869-1880): Intellectual Life in Mid-Victorian England, ed. Catherine Marshall, Bernard Lightman and Richard England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 91-118
  • 'Science in the Periodical Press', in The Routledge Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Science, ed. John Holmes and Sharon Ruston (London: Routledge, 2017), 172-86
  • 'Literature', in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought, ed. Michael Ruse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 436-42
  • 'Science and Its Popularization', in The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1830-1914, ed. Joanne Shattock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 165-83
  • 'Victorian Periodicals and the Making of William Kingdon Clifford's Posthumous Reputation', in Science Serialized: Representations of the Sciences in Nineteenth-Century Periodicals, ed. Sally Shuttleworth and Geoffrey Cantor (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 259-84

Supervision

I am keen to supervise PhD research in most areas of Victorian literature and print culture as well as the cultural history of science. My recent research students include: Richard Fallon, ‘Reshaping Dinosaurs: The Popularisation of Extinct Animals in Anglo-American Culture 1877-1921’ (AHRC funded and published by Cambridge University Press as Reimagining Dinosaurs in Late Victorian and Edwardian Literature: How the ‘Terrible Lizard’ Became a Transatlantic Cultural Icon); Matthew Wale, ‘The Sympathy of a Crowd: Periodicals and the Practices of Natural History in Nineteenth-Century Britain’ (AHRC funded and published by University of Pittsburgh Press as Making Entomologists: How Periodicals Shaped Scientific Communities in Nineteenth-Century Britain); Miyuki Kamezawa, 'Masculinity in the Later Novels of Thomas Hardy'; Hayley Flynn, ‘Victorian Dream Theory and the Periodical Press’; Danielle Benyon-Payne, ‘The Suicide Question in Late-Victorian Gothic Fiction’; and Derek Ball, ‘Mathematics in George Eliot’s Novels’.

Teaching

I teach on the following undergraduate and MA courses: EN3128 Late Victorian Gothic: Texts and Context; EN7021 Approaches to Victorian Literature and Culture; EN7124 Evolution and Entropy: Representations of the Sciences in Victorian Literature

Press and media

I have appeared on several television programmes for the BBC, including: with Philippa Perry on Victorian Sensations for BBC4 (2019); with Giles Brandreth on BBC1’s The One Show (2016); and on Locomotion: Dan Snow’s History of Railways for BBC2 (2013). I have also written articles for the Times Literary Supplement, Nature and American Scientist. I have recorded numerous podcasts, including, most recently, with the New Books Network and National Public Radio

Qualifications

BA (Hons); MA; PhD
Back to top
MENU