Saturday, November 1, 2014

My research field is the cultural history of the Victorian period, with a focus on the social and political contexts of British dramatic literature and theatrical performance between 1789 and 1914. 

In addition to lecturing on a broad range of subjects related to the literature, art, and theatre of this period, I write a blog called The Victorian Peeper, in which I share my boundless enthusiasm for the amazing (and sometimes appalling) age of the Victorians (1837-1901). The blog has a companion Facebook page ( and Twitter page (

As a doctoral student in the School of English at the University of Leicester, I'm researching representations of Islam in Victorian drama and the position of Muslims in Victorian society more generally. 

My doctoral thesis considers a previously unstudied four-act play by Sir (Thomas Henry) Hall Caine. Mahomet, a historical drama based on the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was written in 1890 for Sir Henry Irving, the leading actor of the late-Victorian period. The mere rumour that this play would be produced in London caused unrest in Britain’s Muslim communities, prompted protests throughout India, and strained the nation’s relationship with the Ottoman Empire. Although Mahomet treats Islam sympathetically, it was immediately banned by the Lord Chamberlain in his capacity as licenser of stage plays. My thesis analyses the historical contexts of this controversial play, which to this day has never been performed.

I hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from Michigan State University with additional training in documentary editing from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (U.S. National Archives). 

You can visit my profile, which includes PDFs of most of my publications, hereI welcome your comments and questions.

Research interests

Nineteenth-century British history; the life and career of the English actor-manager Henry Irving (1838-1905) and his circle; the life and career of the Irish theatrical entrepreneur Thomas Monck Mason (1803-1889); Italian, French, and German opera in nineteenth-century London; representations of India and the "East" on the Victorian stage; theatrical practice in British India; theatrical practice in the Ottoman Empire, especially court theatre in Constantinople c.1875-1900; Islam and Muslim agency in Victorian Britain and British India; representations of Islam and Muslims in nineteenth-century British literature and drama; Victorian pantomime; performance studies; theatre and anthropology; humanities computing and multimedia applications for the study of theatre history.

Representative publications

Copies of the publications listed here are available as PDFs at my profile page; click here.

"Continental Opera in the London of William IV: Thomas Monck Mason and the King's Theatre, 1832," forthcoming 2015 (PDF unavailable).

"The Lyceum and the Lord Chamberlain: The Case of Hall Caine's Mahomet," in Richard Foulkes, ed., Henry Irving: A Re-Evaluation of the Pre-Eminent Victorian Actor-Manager
(Ashgate, 2008).

"Commemorating the French Revolution on the Victorian Stage: Henry Irving's The Dead Heart," Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film,
vol. 32, no. 2 (Winter 2005): 36-69.

“Staging the French Revolution,” Browning Society Notes,
vol. 30 (March 2005): 17-28.

"'A Grand Informal Durbar': Henry Irving and the Coronation of Edward VII," Journal of Victorian Culture
8.2 (Autumn 2003): 257-291.

"An Interview with John H. B. Irving [Sir Henry Irving's great-grandson] on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday," First Knight: Journal of The Irving Society
, vol. 8, no. 2 (December 2004): 28-33.

Biographical essays on Charles Walter Couldock (actor, 1815-1898), Charles Gayler (playwright, 1820-1892), and Frederick Barkham Warde (actor, 1851-1935) in Garraty and Carnes, eds., American National Biography
, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Representative conference papers and invited lectures

"Hall Caine's Mahomet: Religion, Empire, and Dramatic Censorship in Late-Victorian Britain," Modern Religious History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, University of London (October 2014)

"An Ethnographic Approach to Understanding Dramatic Censorship in Victorian Britain," International Federation for Theatre Research World Congress, University of Warwick (July 2014)

"'That Deciduous Trash Which Our Publishers Call Fiction’: Hall Caine’s The Manxman in the Late-Victorian Literary Marketplace," Sixth Annual Conference, Victorian Popular Fiction Association (July 2014)

"'But Who is Mrs A?’: The Other Invisible Woman of the Victorian Theatre, Eliza Davis Aria," Victorian and Edwardian Lives and Letters (conference), University of Hertfordshire (July 2014)

"Religion, Empire, and Dramatic Censorship in Late-Victorian Britain: In the Archives with Hall Caine," London Victorian Studies Colloquium, Royal Holloway, University of London (April 2014)

"Sack and Slaughter: The Crusades on the London Stage, 1800-1850," 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University (May 2012).

"'I Feel My Darkness Now!'": Ellen Terry's 
Iolanthe and the Representation of Blindness on the Victorian Stage," The Arts and Culture in Victorian Britain, North American Victorian Studies Association (annual conference), Yale University (November 2008).

"Scheherazade on the English Stage: The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments and the Georgian Repertoire," The Georgian Playhouse and its Continental Counterparts, 1750-1850 (conference), Society for Theatre Research, Theatre Royal, Richmond (September 2008).

"Islam, the Victorian Stage, and Henry Irving's Abandoned Production of Mahomet," Henry Irving: A Life in the Victorian Theatre (conference), University of Leicester (July 2005).

"Continental Opera in the London of William IV: Thomas Monck Mason and the King's Theatre, Haymarket, 1832," Fifth Biennial International Conference on Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain, University of Nottingham (July 2005).

Staging the French Revolution," The Browning Society spring meeting, Institute of Historical Research, University of London (May 2004). Reprinted in Browning Society Notes, vol. 30 (March 2005): 17-28.

Grants and awards

Institute of Historical Research Friends Bursary, 2014

Royal Historical Society Postgraduate Research Support Grant (Past and Present Society), 2014

British Association for Victorian Studies Research Funding Award, 2014

Marshall Cubbon Bursary, Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 2014

Postgraduate Research Fund Bursary, College of Arts, Humanities and Law, University of Leicester, 2013-14

John M. Ward Fellowship in Dance and Music for the Theatre, Houghton Library, Harvard University, 2004-05

Society for Theatre Research Grant, 1993 and 2004