Stipendiary Lecturer in English

David Barnes

  • I specialise in late 19th century and early 20th century English literature in a comparative context. I am interested in the relationships between literature, culture, and political and scientific discourses; I am particularly focused on the role of the city in the writings of this period.
  • I love learning from students in tutorials. It's a two-way process; I learn new things from our study of literature, just as students gain fresh insights too.
  • I'm currently working on a book-length study of animals in the modern city. In the Victorian and early 20th century period, writers, artists and intellectuals often used animals to talk about their feelings and anxieties about the expanding metropolis. When Charles Dickens visited New York, his eye was drawn to a muddy pig 'lounging' on Broadway! 


Alongside my lecturing for Trinity, I hold a Senate House Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of London, where I will be researching historical attitudes to horses, cats, dogs, rats and other animals in 19th and early 20th century London. I also continue to work as a writer and occasional producer/presenter for radio. In May 2021, I co-produced ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’ for BBC Radio 3, and in 2019, I wrote and presented ‘Escape of the Zebra from the Zoo’, also for Radio 3.

‘Escape of the Zebra’ used my research on animals in the city to follow a rare Grevys zebra that escaped from London Zoo during the Blitz of 1940, and galloped through Camden Town.


I currently teach the first-year ‘Victorian’ Paper, Paper 3, and also teach on the first-year Paper 1: Introduction to Language and Literature.


I specialise in, broadly speaking, ‘Victorian’ and ‘modernist’ writing, with the occasional foray backwards and forwards.

I’m particularly interested in the role of cities in the modern cultural imaginary. My first book, The Venice Myth: Culture, Literature, Politics (2014) explored the ways in which the contested politics and history of Venice shaped a range of literary and cultural responses from 1800 to the present. Current research interests focus on two areas of interest. Urban Animals is a project focusing on the role of the animal in the modern city, and features a range of literary figures, from Dickens to Virginia Woolf, Bram Stoker to T.S. Eliot.

My second area of interest lies in exploring a range of ‘transatlantic’ cultural exchanges in the late 19th and early 20th century. It examines the ways in which ideologies of empire and race condition or determine the forms of exchange – literary or cultural – between Europe and the Americas. In 2017, I held a Lilian Gary Taylor Fellowship in Literature at the University of Virginia to research this project.

Selected Publications

‘Pleasure and Politics: European and American Writers in Nineteenth-Century Venice’. In Viva Venezia! (catalogue for the Belvedere Gallery, Vienna). Forthcoming, 2022.

‘“Race against Race, Immutable”: Pound’s Fascist Readings of Henry James’. Textual Practice 34:7. 2020.

‘Canto 26’. In Readings in the Cantos Volume I, ed. Richard Parker (Liverpool University Press/ Clemson University Press). 2018.

‘Mexico, Revolution and Indigenous Politics in D.H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent’. Modern Fiction Studies 63:4. 2017.

‘“All the People in the Ring Together”: Hemingway, Performance and the Politics of the Corrida de Toros’ Modernist Cultures 11:1. 2016.

‘Introduction: New Transatlanticisms’. Modernist Cultures 11:1. 2016

Edited special issue: New Transatlanticisms. Modernist Cultures 11:1. 2016.

The Venice Myth: Culture, Literature, Politics 1800 to the Present (Routledge, 2014)

David Barnes