Briony Wickes

Briony Wickes


  • TW20 0EX

Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Sustainability and joined the department at RHUL in 2022. I completed BA and MA degrees at the University of Exeter, and received my AHRC-funded PhD at King's College London in 2019. Before joining RHUL, I held a European Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at University College Dublin, and worked as a Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Glasgow. 

Research interests

I am a scholar of nineteenth-century literature, with expertise in critical animal studies, the environmental humanities, settlement and migration, histories of colonialism, energy futures, and theories of the novel. 


Broadly, my research argues that climate change is rooted within histories of extractivist colonialism and asks how British writers from the nineteenth century to the present imagine and interrogate shifting human relations with animals, natural environments, and earth phenomena in an age of global mobility. My monograph, Animal Material: Ecology, Settler Colonialism, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction, takes up these questions by examining the place of animals in the mass migrations of Britons to the Anglo colonies during the period 1830-1910. Consumed by humans as meat, data, clothing, and oil, animals provided an economic motivation for colonial settlement and a labour force to build its infrastructures. Drawing on theoretical work in animal studies, Indigenous studies, and critical race studies, my book makes the case that animal signs and substances also advanced the conceptual tactics of nineteenth-century settler colonialism, with its distinct aim to occupy and control indigenous territory. Animal Material identifies modes of governance that emerge from cross-species encounters in colonial spaces and charts their development into settler logics that operate within and beyond the original site of encounter. The book examines work by Olive Schreiner, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Gaskell, H.G. Wells, and Virginia Woolf, amongst others. 


A new research project, ‘Nuisance Aesthetics’, examines how literary writers take up the affective potential of ‘nuisance’ to examine the relation between governance, natural and built environments, and disruptive nonhuman forces in the long nineteenth century. Legally defined in the period as “producing that which is offensive to the senses, rendering the enjoyment of life and property uncomfortable”, nuisance was applied in this period to various industries, social bodies, and unruly matter deemed to infringe upon spatial and social order, including migrant musicians, pungent waste, city smog, river pollution, feral animals, and coal factories. The project assembles nuisance as a concept that identifies and regroups diverging social, colonial, and ecological phenomena and asks how nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers take up nuisance’s affective potential in literature.


I am an International Research Associate on the European Research Council-funded project, 'European Migrants in the British Imagination: Victorian and Neo-Victorian Culture (VICTEUR)”, based at University College Dublin. The project team is led by Professor Gerardine Meaney (English, Drama, and Film) and Dr Derek Greene (Computer Science). Working with the British Library Nineteenth Century Corpus, consisting of nearly 36,000 digitised books, the VICTEUR project combines data analytics and literary criticism to investigate representations of migrants and by migrants in Victorian fiction. You can find out more from the project here.

I am an editorial assistant for Victoriographies journal and sit on the executive committee for the British Association for Victorian Studies. I also co-ordinate the Nineteenth Century Matters research fellowship, an initiave funded jointly by the British Association for Romantic Studies and the British Association for Victorian Studies that supports unaffiliated early career researchers. With Dr Alexander Bubb (Roehampton) and Dr Mary Shannon (Roehampton), I run the London Nineteenth-Century Studies Seminar - see our upcoming programme of events.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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