Dr Charlotte Mathieson

Senior Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century English Literature
PhD in English literature (University of Warwick, 2011)

Academic and research departments

School of Literature and Languages.


Areas of specialism

Victorian literature; Mobilities studies; Victorian novel; Cultural geographies; Skin studies

University roles and responsibilities

  • Subject Leader for English Literature, Film and Creative Writing

    My qualifications

    PhD in English Literature
    University of Warwick
    MA in English Literature
    University of Warwick
    BA in English and American Literature
    University of Warwick

    Affiliations and memberships

    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


    Research interests

    Selected recent talks:

    Keynote: “Cultures of Suntanning: new dialogues between medical, cultural and commercial histories in 19th and 20th century Britain.” Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Festival of Research, FASS Researcher of the Year Keynote Talk. 25th January 2023.

    Respondent: IAS Talking Points Seminar: Dr Asha Hornsby, ‘Contagious Crossings: Representing Seafaring and Disease…’. Institute of Advanced Study, UCL, 12 January 2023.

    “The textured language of tanned and burnt skin in 19th century culture.” Invited paper. Liminal Matters: Textures in 19th century Material and Literary Cultures. University of Konstanz, September 2022.

    “Decolonising the geographies of nation and empire in Victorian studies teaching and research.” BAVS panel on “Decolonising Victorian studies”, English Shared Futures conference, 8th-9 July 2022, Manchester.

    “Sunburnt at Sea: developing understandings of sunburn and tanning in 19th-century maritime medicine.” Invited paper. Locating Intersections Of Medicine and Mobility in 19th-century Britain, Friedrich-Alexander University, Germany, October 2019.


    Public engagement

    British Academy Summer Showcase 2024: exhibit, “Sensing Sunscreen: the curious history of a familiar product”, 12-13 July 2024

    Pint of Science Festival 2023: “Scorched by the sun?  Sun care through the centuries”, at the Star Inn Guildford, 23 May 2023

    Public Talk at Beeston library, Nottingham: “On the Crest of the Heatwave: suntanning at Boots, 1900-1950s”, 21 June 2023


    Postgraduate research supervision




    Marian Aguiar, Charlotte Mathieson, Lynne Pearce (2019) Introduction: Mobilities, Literature, Culture, In: Mobilities, Literature, Culture Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-27072-8_1

    Charlotte Mathieson (2015) Mobility in the Victorian Novel: Placing the Nation. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI: 10.1057/9781137545473

    Charlotte Eleanor Mathieson (2023)'Cultures of suntanning' in the Boots archive

    Project report by Dr Charlotte Mathieson, University of Surrey. The report formed part of a British Academy funded mid-career fellowship award. The report describes Dr Matthieson's findings within the Boots archive and describes the social influences on the culture of suntanning in the early 20th century.

    Data collected in the project "Cultures of Suntanning in late 19th to mid-20th century Britain", British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship award number MCFSS22\220038. Archive Dataset lists identifying details for all archive resources that were consulted during the project, with a note as to whether data was collected from each source. Literary dataset lists identifying details for all literary resources consulted during the project, including digital concordances where used, with a note as to whether data was collected from each source. The raw data collected cannot be made open access due to archive/copyright restrictions. The identifying details provide enough supplementary information for researchers to locate these resources.

    CE Mathieson (2016)Introduction: The Literature, History and Culture of the Sea, 1600–Present, In: Sea Narratives: Cultural Responses to the Sea, 1600–Present(Introd)pp. 1-21 Palgrave Macmillan

    The introduction takes as its focus the book’s subtitle, ‘Cultural Responses to the Sea’, and aims to understand the relationship between culture and the sea, and to define the concept of the ‘sea narrative’ that forms this volume’s core. It begins by situating the book’s unique study of sea narratives within the field of cultural histories of the sea, discussing processes of narration, the relationship between different cultural forms, and the idea of sea narrative that is posited in the subsequent chapters. It then considers the transcultural scope of the collection and explores how the contributions work within national and transnational contexts, and draws out transnational connections that emerge across the volume as a whole.

    CE Mathieson (2014)George Eliot in Society: Travel Abroad and Sundays at the Priory, by Kathleen McCormack., In: Studies in Travel Writing18(1)pp. 90-92 Taylor & Francis
    Charlotte Mathieson (2016)Book review: British Settler Emigration in Print, 1832-1877, In: Literature & history25(2)pp. 221-223 Sage
    CE Mathieson (2012)'A moving and a moving on’: Mobility, Space and the Nation in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, In: English61(235)pp. 395-405 Oxford University Press

    This article argues that despite apparently being the most ‘national’ of his novels, Bleak House is actively engaged with mid-nineteenth-century global travel culture and that reading the text through its mobile structures offers a productive framework through which to reconsider the novel's nation-building practices. It explores the relationship between space, mobility, and social relations in the novel, reading Dickens's employment of mobile structures in the text as evidence of a deep anxiety about the preserve of national place in an era of global modernity and revealing the impossibility of denying Britain's inextricable connection to the modern world.

    CE Mathieson (2014)'A brown sunburnt gentleman’: Masculinity and the Travelling Body in Dickens’s Bleak House, In: Nineteenth-Century Contexts: an interdisciplinary journal36(4)pp. 323-334 Taylor & Francis
    Marian Aguiar, Charlotte Mathieson, Lynne Pearce (2019)Introduction: Mobilities, Literature, Culture, In: Mobilities, Literature, Culture Palgrave Macmillan
    Charlotte Mathieson (2017)'A still ecstasy of freedom and enjoyment’: Walking the city in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, In: Journal of Victorian Culture Taylor & Francis

    This article situates Charlotte Brontë’s writing within the context of mid-nineteenth century discourses of gender and travel, and posits that Brontë contributes to the discursive construct of the flâneuse through her writing about women walking the city in her letters from Belgium and in the novel Villette (1853). Through a critical framework drawing together literary historicism on women in the Victorian city and mobilities theories of embodied and sensory movement, the analysis reveals how Brontë foregrounds the experience of the body in her writing of women walking, and uses this as a mode through which to explore gendered discourses of mobility, and especially women’s urban walking. It argues that Brontë offers a new model of female urban spectatorship which privileges the body of the flâneuse as the prime site of knowing the city; this positively reconfigures the possibilities for autonomy and agency that urban walking affords, while at the same time making the body a site through which ambivalence about women’s mobility is expressed. The article reveals Charlotte Brontë to be a writer actively engaged with discourses of mobility and modernity that have been overlooked in her work, and situates Brontë as a significant contributor to debates about women and the city. It advances literary histories of city walking by locating Villette as a key participant within the field, and contributes to Brontë studies by revealing new perspectives on the significance of women’s travel in her works.

    Charlotte Mathieson (2016)Book review: The Bronte Sisters In Other Wor(l)ds, In: Victorian Studies58(4)pp. 751-753 Indiana Univ Press
    Charlotte Mathieson (2018)Realism’s Reach: The Transnational Form of Nineteenth-Century Fiction, In: Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies14(1) Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies
    Charlotte Mathieson (2022)“Stimulated by these agents to vigorous action”: the language of suntanning and materiality of skin in Victorian culture, In: European Journal of English Studies26(1)pp. 124-144 Routledge

    This paper explores the materiality of skin as it is figured and re-figured through sunburn and suntanning descriptions in nineteenth-century culture. In nineteenth-century literary representations, the suntanned skin of white, British subjects is depicted through a rich array of terminology attending not only to the transformation of colour but also to the surface texture of the skin. This article identifies that, amid changing ideas about the embodiment of self within the skin, suntanning representations bring to the surface a particular ambivalence around the stability of the skin that manifests through explorations of the reconfiguration of the skin surface. The article analyses the language of suntanning to explore, firstly, how the action of sunburn and tanning reveals the skin as unstable and susceptible to the invasive actions of the sun, endangering the boundary-lines of the physical and conceptual self; and, secondly, instances in which suntanned skin is conceptualised through likeness to material objects in a way that metaphorically and conceptually hardens the skin and self against the wider world.

    Mobility in the Victorian Novel explores mobility in Victorian novels by authors including Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

    Marian Aguiar, CHARLOTTE ELEANOR MATHIESON, Lynne Pearce (2019)Mobilities, Literature, Culture Springer Nature Switzerland AG
    C Mathieson, G Goodman (2014)Gender and Space in Rural Britain, 1840–1920 Pickering and Chatto

    The essays in this collection focus on the ways rural life was represented during the long nineteenth century. Contributors bring expertise from the fields of history, geography and literature to present an interdisciplinary study of the interplay between rural space and gender during a time of increasing industrialization and social change.

    CE Mathieson, K Olowookere (2016)Introduction: New Writings in Feminist Studies, In: Journal of International Women’s Studies17(2)pp. 1-4 Bridgewater State College
    CE Mathieson (2015)A perambulating mass of woollen goods’: Bodies in transit in the mid-19th century railway journey, In: A Gavin, A Humphries (eds.), Transport in British Fiction: Technologies of Movement 1840-1940(2)pp. 44-56 Palgrave Macmillan

    Transport in British Fiction is the first essay collection devoted to transport and its various types horse, train, tram, cab, omnibus, bicycle, ship, car, air and space as represented in British fiction across a century of unprecedented technological change that was as destabilizing as it was progressive.

    CE Mathieson (2015)‘The Formation of a Surface’: Europe in Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit.', In: K Hill (eds.), Britain and the Narration of Travel in the Nineteenth Century Routledge

    Interrogating the multiple ways in which travel was narrated and mediated, by and in response to, nineteenth-century British travelers, this interdisciplinary collection examines to what extent these accounts drew on and developed existing tropes of travel. The three sections take up personal and intimate narratives that were not necessarily designed for public consumption, tales intended for a popular audience, and accounts that were more clearly linked with discourses and institutions of power, such as imperial processes of conquest and governance. Some narratives focus on the things the travelers carried, such as souvenirs from the battlefields of Britain’s imperial wars, while others show the complexity of Victorian dreams of the exotic. Still others offer a disapproving glimpse of Victorian mores through the eyes of indigenous peoples in contrast to the imperialist vision of British explorers. Swiss hotel registers, guest books, and guidebooks offer insights into the history of tourism, while new photographic technologies, the development of the telegraph system, and train travel transformed the visual, audial, and even the conjugal experience of travel. The contributors attend to issues of gender and ethnicity in essays on women travelers, South African travel narratives, and accounts of China during the Opium Wars, and analyze the influence of fictional travel narratives. Taken together, these essays show how these multiple narratives circulated, cross-fertilised, and reacted to one another to produce new narratives, new objects, and new modes of travel.

    CE Mathieson, P Kirwan (2015)A Tale of Two Londons: Locating Shakespeare and Dickens in 2012, In: P Prescott, E Sullivan (eds.), Shakespeare on the Global Stage: Performance and Festivity in the Olympic Year(9) Bloomsbury

    Long held as Britain's 'national poet', Shakespeare's role in the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad confirmed his status as a global icon in the modern world. From his prominent positioning in the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies, to his major presence in the cultural programme surrounding the Games, including the Royal Shakespeare Company's World Shakespeare Festival and the Globe's Globe to Globe Festival, Shakespeare played a major role in the way the UK presented itself to its citizens and to the world. This collection explores the cultural forces at play in the construction, use and reception of Shakespeare during the 2012 Olympic Moment, considering what his presence says about culture, politics and identity in twenty-first century British and global life.

    CE Mathieson (2014)'Wandering like a wild thing’: Rurality Women and Walking in George Eliot’s Adam Bede and The Mill on the Floss, In: C Mathieson, G Goodman (eds.), Gender and Space in Rural Britain, 1840-19203(6) Routledge

    The essays in this collection focus on the ways rural life was represented during the long nineteenth century. Contributors bring expertise from the fields of history, geography and literature to present an interdisciplinary study of the interplay between rural space and gender during a time of increasing industrialization and social change.

    CE Mathieson (2012)Introduction: Sex, Courtship and Marriage in Victorian Literature and Culture, In: Victorian Network4(2)pp. 1-9 Victorian Network

    This line from George Eliot's 1859 novel Adam Bede, reflecting on the thoughts of young, naïve country girl Hetty Sorrel as she falls in love with the older, wiser and wealthier gentleman Captain Arthur Donnithorne, provides an indicative point from which to begin a discussion of sex, courtship and marriage in Victorian literature and culture, opening up many of the ideological tensions and wider cultural resonances that these terms and their intersections produced. In the naïvety of Hetty's innocent unknowing and shapeless expectations, Eliot signals the problem of ignorance about sex prevalent among young women in the period; in the assertion that ‘a novel' would provide Hetty with a guide to understanding, we are reminded of the centrality of courtship and marriage in structuring many novels of the period, as well as the cultural work that literature played in ‘shaping' the ideas of its readers

    CE Mathieson (2016)Brontë countries: nation, gender and place in the literary landscapes of Haworth and Brussels, In: AK Regis, D Wynne (eds.), Charlotte Brontë: Legacies and Afterlives Manchester University Press

    The collection uses the concept of the ‘sea narrative’ as a lens through which to consider the multiple ways in which the sea has shaped, challenged, and expanded modes of cultural representation to produce varied, contested and ...

    CHARLOTTE ELEANOR MATHIESON (2020)Feminist and women's studies Association, In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of Higher Education Sage
    Charlotte Mathieson (2020)Mobile materiality: the great exhibition of 1851 and the mobile-material relations of Henry Mayhew's 1851: or, the adventures of Mr and Mrs Sandboys, In: Jo Carruthers, Nour Dakkak, Rebecca Spence (eds.), Anticipatory Materialisms in Literature and Philosophy, 1790–1930pp. 113-130 Palgrave Macmillan