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Christopher Pittard

Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Portsmouth

I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2009, having held previous teaching positions at Newcastle University and the University of Exeter. My main research focus is on the popular culture of the 19th century, especially the emergence of popular genres in the Victorian fin de siecle and detective fiction in particular. My monograph, Purity and Contamination in Late Victorian Detective Fiction, considers how such fictions (and the periodicals in which they appeared) engaged with ideas of material and social purity, ranging from Sherlock Holmes cleaning the face of criminality in “The Man with the Twisted Lip” to the moral policing carried out by the Social Purity movements and late Victorian antivivisection campaigns. My publications in this area include discussions of Arthur Conan Doyle, Arthur Morrison, Fergus Hume, and of the Strand Magazine more widely.

My current major research project is a consideration of conjuring and secular magic in Victorian and Edwardian fiction, reading the work of Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Max Beerbohm, among others. This work draws upon various critical perspectives (such as the Freudian uncanny and Derrida’s analysis of ‘conjurement’) to theorise secular magic as a narrative, and combine these approaches with the attention to material culture that characterises my research.

My wider interests in popular culture and Victorian fiction are also served by my work on the editorial boards of The Journal of Popular Culture and Clues: A Journal of Detection, peer review for Routledge, Blackwell, and Broadview and a range of journals including Victorian Review, Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies, and Configurations, and as a faculty member of the Dickens Project, University of California Santa Cruz.


  • –present
    Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Portsmouth