Claudia Sterbini

Thesis title: Asexual Epidemics, Detectives and Spinsters: the construction of pathological asexuality in Victorian fiction


Claudia Sterbini is a PhD student at Edinburgh University. Her project, funded by AHRC through SGSAH, explores the construction of pathological asexuality in Victorian fiction. She is a board member on the academic journal Romance, Revolution and Reform and on the referee panel of the publication The Wellsian. She has presented widely on the gothic, asexuality and the medical humanities.


Current: University of Edinburgh (Phd Candidate), 2022-ongoing. Research Title: 'Asexual Epidemics, Detectives and Spinsters: the construction of pathological asexuality in Victorian fiction'

MA: Durham University (MA Romantic and Victorian Literary Studies), 2019-2020. Graduated with Distinction.

BA: University of Brighton (BA Hons English Literature), 2016-2019. Graduated with first degree.

Research summary

My research focuses on Victorian and fin-de-siècle literature, more specifically on the relation between narratives and medical writing in constructing medical stigmas. My work intersects with Medical Humanities and Queer Theory.

My thesis interrogates the development of the concept of asexuality, meaning the experience of not being sexually attracted to others, in Victorian texts. I consider the relationship between fiction and medicine as reciprocal, I will argue that Victorian character construction created a gendered stereotype of the frigid persona that continues to affect medical studies. I will highlight the evolution of this figure, considering the nineteenth-century medical and literary discourse as co-dependent.

Current research interests

Disease and contagion; the crossing between fiction and science; the Gothic; human and post-human; Queer Theory; Victorian and fin de siècle literature

Past research interests

Typology and its interrelation with topology, maps and sacred place; Deconstruction; Thomas Hardy. MA dissertation: "The Obscure ‘City of Light’: place typology, the signifying Wessex and the missing centre in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure"

Current project grants

Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities Training Partnership

Conference details

  •  ‘A Case Study of St John: Pathological Coldness and (A)sexual Anxiety in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre’, talk for the British Society for Literature and Science, 9th April 2022.
  • ‘Masculine pathological asexuality in Jane Eyre’, talk for Manchester Metropolitan University, PGR/ECR Long Nineteenth Century, Seminar Series: LGBTQ+ History Month, 24th February 2022.
  • ‘On not being like the French: anxiety of an epidemic of asexuality in Wells’, talk for Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia, Online Symposium, 22nd December 2021. 
  •  ‘‘The Thinging Thing’: thingness and unconscious in Heidegger’s ‘Das Ding’ and Dicken’s The Old Curiosity Shop’, talk for PGR/ECR Long Nineteenth Century, Seminar Series: Dickens Special, 16th December 2021.
  • ‘’Wonderful as it seems in a sexual world’: frigidity and blighted alien genitalia in The War of the Worlds’, talk for the H.G. Wells Society, lecture series: Stranger Worlds: H. G. Wells, Transgression and the Gothic, 13th November 2021.


  • Co-organizer: RRR’s series of talks ‘Feeling in the Long Nineteenth Century’, 2023.
  • Chair for: AVAR2021, Panel 3 ‘Health, (Alternative) Care and the Medical-Industrial Complex’, 20th September 2021.