Dr Beth Palmer

Senior Lecturer in English Literature
+44 (0)1483 683013
14 AD 02
Tuesdays 1-2, Fridays 11-1


Areas of specialism

Nineteenth-century fiction; Nineteenth-century drama; Neo-Victorian literature; Newspapers and periodicals; Readership studies; Women's writing; Contemporary fiction; Nineteenth-century popular culture

University roles and responsibilities

  • Impact Lead for the School of Literature and Languages
  • Director of Postgraduate Research for the School of Literature and Languages

    My qualifications

    D. Phil. in English Literature
    Trinity College, Oxford University
    M.St. in English Literature, 1780-1900
    Trinity College, Oxford University
    BA (Hons) in English Literature
    Trinity College, Oxford University

    Previous roles

    2008 - 2010
    Teaching Fellow in English Literature
    University of Leeds
    2007 - 2008
    Non-stipendiary Lecturer
    Keble College, Oxford University

    Affiliations and memberships

    British Association of Victorian Studies
    Higher Education Academy
    Senior Fellow
    Research Society for Victorian Periodicals
    Victorian Popular Fiction Association


    Research interests

    Research collaborations

    Indicators of esteem

    • Reader for: Victorian Review, Review of English Studies, Journal of British Studies, Edinburgh University Press, RAVON (Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net), Women’s Writing, LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory, Studies in the Novel, Cambridge University Press, Palgrave.

    • Editorial board: Victorian Popular Fiction, Key Popular Women Writers and New Paths in Victorian Popular Literature and Culture 

    • Reviewer for Irish Research Council's postdoctoral award scheme


    Postgraduate research supervision

    Postgraduate research supervision



    Beth Palmer and Joanna Hofer-Robinson (2019) Sensation Drama, 1860-1880: An Anthology
    Beth Palmer and Amelia Yeates (2022) Picturing the Reader: Reading and Representation in the Long Nineteenth Century

    The long nineteenth century saw a prolific increase in the number of books being produced and read and, consequently, in the number of visual and textual discourses about reading. This collection examines a range of visual and textual iconographies of readers produced during this period and maps the ways in which such representations engaged with crucial issues of the time, including literary value, gender formation, familial relationships, the pursuit of leisure and the understanding of new technologies.

    Gauging the ways in which Victorians conceptualized reading has often relied on textual sources, but here we recognize and elaborate the importance of visual culture – often in dialogue with textual evidence – in shaping the way people read and thought about reading. This book brings together historians, literary scholars and art historians using a range of methodologies and theoretical approaches to address ideas of readership found in fine art, photography, arts and craft, illustration, novels, diaries and essays. The volume shows how the field of readership studies can be enriched and furthered through an interdisciplinary approach and, in particular, through an exploration of the visual iconography of readers and reading.

    Beth Palmer (2022) 'Mary Elizabeth Braddon's and Dion Boucicault's Sensational Re-Writings across Media: The Octoroon' Victoriographies 12:3 (2022), 288-306

    This article seeks to add to the conversation around transmedia practices in Victorian culture and to suggest that sensation, a particular type of storytelling that sought to affect its audiences physically and emotionally with its extreme events in contemporary settings, was significant to the development of transmedia practices in the ease with which sensationalists moved their stories across boundaries and the highly self-reflexive way in which they did so. Whilst contemporary reviewers expressed anxiety about the fractured and multiple means by which sensation could be consumed, sensation writers like novelist Mary Elizabeth Braddon and playwright Dion Boucicault highlighted their sensational productions as transmedia, often in the face of critical opprobrium. Examining both writers’ versions of The Octoroon (1861–2), a story about racial inequality set in antebellum Louisiana, we can see how offering readers and audiences sensational stories that continued, expanded or re-told other sensational stories kept Victorian consumers coming back for more. Sensation, this article suggests, was at the forefront of stimulating its audiences in new ways: bodily, intellectually, and emotionally, and that the transmedia connectedness of sensationalists’ work increased their capacity to create new sensations.