Christine Chettle

Christine Chettle

Postgraduate Research Student

Summary: I am interested in aesthetics and social transformation in the Victorian period and in links between fantasy and realism.

Research and Education:

In 2005, I completed my BA (Hons) in English Literature, with a subsidiary degree in French, at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  After taking a few years out, I came to Leeds to do an MA in Victorian Literature in 2008, which allowed me to explore a long-standing interest in the Victorian period.  This interest developed through voluntary archival and museum work around the Victorian period - at Westfield Heritage Centre in Ontario, Canada and Kew Bridge Steam Museum in Kew, London.  My MA dissertation, supervised by Professor Francis O'Gorman, examined the use of fairy tale themes as a method of creating spaces of metamorphosis in two texts by Christina Rossetti ('The Prince's Progress' and 'Goblin Market') and in three texts by George MacDonald (The Light Princess, The Princess and the Goblins and The Princess and Curdie), particularly exploring themes of liminality.
I have continued my interest in the Victorian period and in fantasy through my PhD thesis, also supervised by Professor Francis O'Gorman. Entitled 'Ambiguity as a Mode of Debate in Victorian Fiction', this explores the use a range of writers in the early to mid-Victorian period have made of an ambiguous mode in their texts.
I examine the use of arbitrary textuality in Charlotte Brontë's juvenile novella, The Spell (1834), and her mature work Jane Eyre (1847) to explore experimentation within spirituality, aesthetic perception and experiences of authorship. I investigate the use of polyphonic textuality in Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839) and A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens to dramatize the complications of social deviance in experiences of disability, trauma and illegitimacy. I explore the resonances of astronomical imagery, cognitive dissonance, and educational reform in  George Eliot's The Lifted Veil (1859) and Daniel Deronda (1876). My final chapter examines how textualities of debate in George Macdonald's Adela Cathcart, The Light Princess, 'The Shadows' and 'The Giant's Heart' (all first published in 1864) challenge the boundaries of literary and religious communities.
My work on fantasy has also continued through an exploration of the Emily trilogy by Canadian writer L.M. Montgomery (Emily of New Moon, 1923; Emily Climbs, 1925; Emily's Quest, 1927).  I analyse how fragmented representations of psychic fantasy in the texts reveal negotiations of the literary marketplace on local, national, and international levels. My work on L.M. Montgomery was greatly assisted by a travel award from the Centre for Canadian Studies, which allowed me to visit archival holdings for Montgomery texts in Canada.

Administrative and Committee Experience: I have served as a postgraduate representative for the Student:Staff Forum at the School of English, in which capacity I organized a Postgraduate Training day ('Life After a PhD: Navigating Literary Community and Research Environment'), along with two other postgraduate representatives, Bethany Layne and Esha Sil. This training event was supported by a grant from the Leeds Humanities Research Institute and the Faculty of Arts.  I have also served as the postgraduate representative for the Centre for Canadian Studies. From October 2012-October 2013, I worked as an assistant and intern for the Centre for Canadian Studies, facilitating events, promoting the Centre to students and staff across the University and in the wider community, and liaising with other groups and institutions.

Community Engagement and Impact: 

On the Dickens Bicentenary in February, 2012, I co-presented at a special Charles Dickens Anniversary Talk, hosted by the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery and the Brotherton Library Special Collections. My presentation combined archival material from the Brother Library’s Special Collections with illustration and research to discuss Charles Dickens in the light of Victorian media culture. (For a review of this event, please see:
My work for the Leeds Centre for Canadian Studies has honed my public engagement skills in an organizational capacity as I have been co-ordinating events and publicity to enhance the Centre and to promote the profile of Canadian Studies through social media, public seminars, and community projects. One such project was the ‘Challenging Myths of Disability’ film event, which, highlighting the expertise of  academics, community workers, students and members of the disabled community, made use of international cinema to raise awareness of disability issues. I and my colleagues Andrew Bailey and Jessica Ballantine also worked with Leeds City Museum to present an event for Leeds Light Night (a community arts festival), 'Leeds in the Light of Canada'. This event (funded by a grant from Leeds City Council) provided visitors with a chance to discover the surprising connections between Canada and Leeds,  including the Leeds children who migrated to Canada, and  the history of Canadian street names in Leeds, which were inspired by a Montreal heiress who married into the local gentry. In addition, I lead a community reading group in which members from a wide range of backgrounds meet to discuss poems, short stories and novels in a therapeutic context; responsibilities involve selecting texts, facilitating discussion, and co-ordinating feedback from members. (This reading group is funded by the University of Leeds Arts Engaged Project.)


I have a long-standing enthusiasm for teaching, developed in a number of contexts. I served in public museum education in a voluntary capacity for seven years. My work at Westfield Heritage Centre (Ontario, Canada) engaged visitors in the history of nineteenth-century Canada through the use of costume, acting, archival sources and research. At Kew Bridge Steam Museum (London, UK), I designed and presented creative programmes to engage visitors in the history of Victorian water systems, such as, for example, a ‘Victorian Laundry Day’ water play activity; these programmes were also enhanced by archival sources. My interest in teaching increased through six years (three in Canada; three in the UK) of providing private tuition for students of a range of ages. I taught on the module Poetry: Reading and Interpretation (ENGL 1260) in the second semester of the 2011/2012 year. I currently teach on the module Drama: Reading and Interpretation (ENGL 1280). I have acted as a Mentor for the Students as Scholars Programme, mentoring undergraduate students who are interested in research, and I have also delivered study skills workshops for Arts students.


'Imagining Reformed Communities: Discussing Social Myths in George MacDonald's Princess Novels and Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market"' in Rethinking George MacDonald: Contexts and Contemporaries, ed. by Christopher MacLachlan, Ginger Stelle, and John Patrick Pazdziora (Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2013), pp.121-139.


'Graphic Haunting: Illustration and Liminal Masculinity in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby and A Christmas Carol' in Haunted Men: Masculinity in Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories, (Pickering and Chatto, 2014)

Conference papers (selected):


June 2013 'Unified Reading: Dante, Dialogue and the Cross-Cultural Gaze in George Eliot's Daniel Deronda'           'The Global and the Local' AVSA/BAVS/NAVSA Supernumerary Conference, Università Ca’ Foscari and San Servolo Conference Centre, Venice, Italy 


September 2012 ‘Lost Children: Fairy Tales and Deprivation in George MacDonald’s Adela Cathcart
After Grimm: Fairy Tales and the Art of Story Telling, Kingston University and the Sussex Centre for Folklore

August 2012 ‘The Value of Enlargement:  Crinolines and Gauging Community in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda
Victorian Values: British Association for Victorian Studies Annual Conference, University of Sheffield

June 2012 'Portrait[s] of the [Author(s)] as a Young Woman: Fragmented Narrativity and Re-positioning Memories of Authorship in L.M. Montgomery's Emily Trilogy'
L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

May 2012 ‘“The little astronomy taught her at school”: Science and Educational Dissonance in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda
Two Cultures or Coevolution? Science and Literature 1800-Present, Keele University

March 2011 'Narrative Threads in J.R.R. Tolkien's Éowyn: From Narrative Outlaw to Outlaw Narrative'
Myths and Fairy-Tales in Film and Literature Post - 1900, University of York

September 2010 'Re-producing Transgression: Social Ambivalence and Textuality in Modern Reconstructions of Bram Stoker's Mina Harker'
Re-imagining the Victorians, University of Leeds

March 2010 'The Political Currency of Repetition in Ernest Jones's "The Song of the Low" and Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market"' 
Poetry, Politics and Pictures in the Nineteenth Century, University of Sheffield

Other activities:
Outside of all this, I enjoy reading, hiking, cooking, music, movies, and fitness, particularly kickboxing (in which I have an orange belt). I am also involved in local activist campaigns surrounding disability and asylum seekers.