Emily Vause

Thesis title: Making a Monster: Exploring the Relationship Between Parenting and the Nineteenth Century Literary Child


Emily Vause holds a BA(Hons) in English Literature from the University of East Anglia and an MSc in Romantic and Victorian Literature from the University of Edinburgh where she is currently a third year PhD Candidate. Her ongoing doctoral thesis investigates the relationship between unconventional parenting or parental figures and the creation of literal and metaphorically monstrous “children” in the nineteenth-century novel. Her other research interests focus largely on presentations of sexuality, gender, nature, and the uncanny in Victorian literature.


PhD in English Literature  from The University of Edinburgh (2020–Present)

MSc in Romantic and Victorian Literature from The University of Edinburgh (2018–9)

BA(Hons) in English Literature from The University of East Anglia (2015–8)

Undergraduate teaching

Currently teaching on the English Literature 2 Course

Current research interests

Emily Vause's areas of research focus predominantly on nineteenth-century literature, particularly the Gothic and the bildungsroman. She is particularly interested in presentations of gender, sexuality, and masculinity, the influence of science and medicine on nineteenth-century literature, the concept of the monster or monstrous, and the differing presentations of children throughout the century.

Conference details

The Brontë Society Bicentenary Conference 2021 – ‘I Wished To Tell The Truth’: Anne Brontë At 200

Female Authorship, Authority, and Identity in Anne Brontë’s The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall

My paper explores Anne’s truth within Tenant and her depiction of the female artist’s battle for authority. Helen’s struggle against those in her life who sought to ‘forcibly’ wrestle her autonomy as an artist uncannily predicts the way in which Charlotte would prevent the posthumous republication of Tenant, denouncing it as an ‘entire mistake’. This demonstrates how exquisitely Anne was able to weave the truth into her prose, particularly in the unmistakable mirroring of Arthur’s destruction of Helen’s art and her own sisters “destruction” of her novel. I am not suggesting that Helen should be read as Anne but that her creator’s ability to write the truth enables her to represent the plight of the female artist. I cannot argue Helen’s battle for authority is wholly successful because that would situate my argument in opposition to Anne’s dedication to the truth. Rather I will discuss Helen’s resistance as revolutionary within Anne’s individual context.


The Thomas Hardy Tess of the D'Urbervilles Conference 2021

The Dissolution of the Human/Natural Divide in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles

My paper analyses the tumultuous relationship between the human and the natural in Hardy’s novel and the way in which this boundary is gradually dissolved.

Invited speaker


My paper will explore my current PhD research revolving around Thomas Hardy's final novel: Jude the Obscure. 


Although forming only a small percentage of the overall plot of Jude the Obscure, the Father Time subplot simultaneously provided contemporary readers with a startling depiction of alleged child monstrosity and a revolutionary outlook into new and innovative advances into the burgeoning concept of heredity-driven mental illness and the suicidal and murderous impulses that result from it.

This paper, based on a chapter from my ongoing doctoral thesis, will investigate the different branches of genetic inheritance theories that were beginning to emerge during the nineteenth century in conjunction with Hardy’s singular presentation of Father Time. These early innovators, particularly Crichton-Browne, Henry Maudsley, and S. A. K. Strahan, played a vital part in shaping Hardy’s ideas concerning heredity and the outcome is a novel that presents a radically new take on the notion of the “family curse” trope: he takes a Gothic motif and imposes a realist lens upon it through science. This idea begins to develop within Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but it is not fully realised until the publication of Hardy’s final book.

This paper will then culminate in a discussion of Father Time’s function as a “mercy killer” and the novel’s overarching implications on Strahan’s calls for marriage legislation for those with genetically transmitted dysfunctions, morbidity and “suicidal taint”, for example. In this way, my paper will compare the readily available assessment of Father Time as a “monstrous” child with the more sympathetic outlook that this paper suggests: Father Time as a victim of “cursed” heredity.