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Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Adelaide

Amy Milka is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the ‘Change’ program led by Professor David Lemmings. She received her BA in English and Related Literature at the University of York in 2008, where she went on to study for an MA in Eighteenth Century Studies in 2009, and a PhD in English, awarded in 2013. Her PhD thesis reconnects the ‘English Jacobin novel’ with early French Jacobin principles. This is a wide-ranging study of print culture in English and French, from newspapers and periodicals to political pamphlets and broadsides, to the more traditionally ‘literary’ productions of the period. The thesis presents political, cultural and social exchange as a uniting factor in all these fields of study, and attempts to make literary and historical methods work together to uncover the re-evaluate the influence of French Jacobinism on English literature. Exchange remains at the heart of her research interests. She enjoys thinking about networks of communication, transaction and sympathy across different groups and cultures. She is interested in how ideas and emotions are transmitted, shared, and interpreted through text, and is particularly focused on the importance of language, and of linguistic community, in communicating ideas.

Amy was appointed Lecturer in Eighteenth Century English Literature at the University of York (2013-14), and Teaching Fellow in the School of English at the University of Sussex (2014-15). She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses on many aspects of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and culture, including primitivism, representations of the city, and gender and sexuality. She is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research, and to new ways of studying literature, culture and society in the long eighteenth-century. She is also interested in the digital humanities, and thinking about new digital research methods and approaches. She co-founded the University of York Digital Humanities Forum in 2013. In 2015, she joins the CHE at the University of Adelaide to work in the ‘Change’ program.

In a new project for the ‘Change’ program with Professor David Lemmings, entitled Professors of Feeling: Emotion and the English Criminal Courts, 1700-1830, she will consider the affective language of the courtroom in criminal trials. The project will analyse the shifts in language and address which accompanied the introduction of lawyers into the courtroom, the changing role of the jury, and new approaches to prosecution and defence. Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the language and discourse of criminality and legality were in flux. In the courtroom, at the level of local justice, and in wider intellectual and print culture, attitudes to the law, the government and individual rights were subject to significant change. This project investigates the role that emotion played in the language of the law as spoken by legal professionals, and the way that ideas about performance, oratory, and sympathy influenced their address. It will consider how changes in the discourse of sympathy and sensibility, in the way people perceived the role of government and their own natural rights, impacted on emotional language within the law. Further, this project is concerned with representation and reception, thinking about emotional engagement with the law outside the courtroom. How was criminal justice represented in private accounts and in print culture, and to what extent did emotion play a part in the interpretation of crime, punishment, and the workings of the law? How did factors such as class, gender, or the nature of the crime affect sympathetic responses? The project aims to consider a cross-section of material engaging with criminal justice, to situate the changing language of the law within an affective landscape, and within a broader understanding of eighteenth-century culture.


  • –present
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Adelaide