Miss Jen Nicholson

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I obtained my BA in Jurisprudence at St. Edmund Hall, University of Oxford. During my time as an undergraduate I developed an interest in the interdisciplinary study between law and literature and, after graduating, undertook further undergraduate study with Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department where I completed the Foundation Certificate in English Language and Literature (equivalent to the first year of Oxford University’s English degree). I then obtained my MA in Victorian Literature, Media and Culture at Royal Holloway, University of London where I am currently studying for my PhD under the supervision of Dr. Sophie Gilmartin and Professor Adam Roberts.


My thesis, entitled ‘Character, Evidence, and Advocacy: Representing Reality in Nineteenth-century Law and Literature’, examines the impact of the 1836 Prisoners’ Counsel Act  – which for the first time allowed all criminal defendants the right to have counsel address the jury on their behalf – on nineteenth-century literature. In particular I examine the emergence of a post-1836 adversarial-evidentiary legal representational model and its relationship to, and impact on, literary representational practices employed in nineteenth-century fiction, with special focus on sensation and detective narratives. I am especially interested in reading sensation and detective fiction within the context of their periodical publication and how this method of publication provided the space for authors to engage with the contemporary debates which followed the passing of the 1836 Act. These debates continued throughout the nineteenth century and were especially concerned with issues concerning the reliability of legal evidence. My research aims to demonstrate that, read within the context of the Prisoners’ Counsel debates, a number of popular literary texts can and should be understood as engaged responses to the issues which these debates raised, not least the question of how representations about reality could most effectively and reliably be achieved.


From 2010-2011 I served on the Committee of Royal Holloway’s English Research Forum, co-organising events for students and staff across the University of London.

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