Junior Research Fellow

Lucy Powell

  • I am a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow in addition to my position as Junior Research Fellow at Trinity College.
  • I am researching birds and the global imaginary in the long eighteenth century.
  • I was one of the original, ten New Generation Thinkers for the BBC, and have made programmes across the BBC network on everything from the history of the loo to the radical roots of vegetarianism.


I’m currently a Research Fellow, looking at the ideological and material pathways of Empire that Britain was forging in the long eighteenth century. I do so through the figure of the bird, in material and literary culture, and in early-modern aviaries. Before arriving here, I held a visiting lectureship and a two-year teaching fellowship at UCL, where I taught Restoration, eighteenth-century and Romantic literature. My PhD, which I completed at UCL, was about prison cultures in the novels of the long eighteenth century. Before that, I studied for my MA at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, on a Commonwealth Scholarship, and my dissertation examined the rhetoric of seduction in the prose writings of Aphra Behn. I studied for my BA at Birmingham University.


I’m interested in histories of selfhood in the long eighteenth century. The movement from early-modern to modern forms of subjectivity has often been read as the birth of self-determined individualism, a necessary condition for industrial capitalism, by thinkers like Michel Foucault. My work challenges this assumption, looking at artistic expressions of interdependence and sociality in the eighteenth century, including in the formation of novel communities of readers and consumers. My new project explores the development of the global imaginary through the figure of the bird in eighteenth century art and material culture. I will compile the original biographies of seven birds or feathered objects, from their origins in colonial ‘margins’, to their repurposing in urban ‘centres’. My intention is to map the material and ideological pathways to Empire that these birds encode, and to reveal the global trade networks that underpinned Enlightenment ideals.

Sun Conure and Birds in a Landscape, 1708-1710, Jakob Bogdani

Selected Publications

"Sterne's Captive and the Prison: A Case of Double Vision" The Shandean, 2022

Prison Fictions: The Prison and the Novel, 1718-1780, monograph, forthcoming

'Cant in Henry Fielding's Jonathan WildNotes and Queries, August 2021

'Doing Time: Temporality and Writing in the Eighteenth-Century British Prison', Life Writing, 2018, v.15, issue 1, pp. 59-77

'Life to the power of two', Opticon 1826, no.15, 2013, p.D1

Melody for training canary birds, for the flute. Hervieux De Chanteloup, A New Treatise of Canary-Birds, 1718
Lucy Powell

“The wing is the corporeal element which is most akin to the divine”.


Plato, Phaedrus, 350 BCE.