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Helen joined Newman University in November 2016, having previously worked at Teesside University (2012-2016) and Leeds Beckett University (2008-2012). She is on the editorial board of Journal of Gender Studies and served on the executive committee of the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association (2010-2013). She is recognised as an expert on ventriloquism and Victorian freak shows, having regularly contributed to television and radio programmes on these topics.


Current Teaching

Areas of interest include Victorian and Neo-Victorian literature and culture, and the representation of gender, sexuality, and disability.

Research Interests

Helen’s research interests are in Victorian and neo-Victorian literature, and contemporary women’s writing, with a focus on gender, sexuality, and disability studies across these areas. She is the author of Gender and Ventriloquism in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Fiction (2012) and Neo-Victorian Freakery (2015), and the co-editor (with Claire O’Callaghan) of Gender and Austerity in Popular Culture (2016). Helen welcomes enquiries on any aspect of her research.

Other Activities

Membership of Professional Orgamnisations

Helen is on the editorial board of Journal of Gender Studies, and on the editorial board of the ‘Discourse, Power and Society’ book series at Rowman & Littlefield International. She has peer-reviewed for Bloomsbury Press, Neo-Victorian Studies, Journal of Gender Studies, and Contemporary Women’s Writing.


Research supervision

Z. Chadwick (second supervisor) PhD, ‘Insanely Sexual Victorians: Mental Illness and Sexuality in the Literature of the Fin de Siècle’ (started October 2016, Newman University)

N. Gardiner (second supervisor) PhD, ‘Beyond the Grotesque: Relativism and Metamorphoses in Postmodern and Contemporary Literature’ (started October 2015, part of North East Consortium of Arts and Humanities doctoral supervision programme).

L. Logan (external supervisor) PhD, ‘Tackling the Legacy of the Victorian Freak Show: Fictional portrayals of the freak show and re-presenting disabled performers in museums (started October 2016, Teesside University)

L. Mondal (external supervisor) PhD, ‘Representing the Neo-Victorian Body’: Lewis Mondal (started date November 2016, Teesside University)


Conference Addresses and Papers

Keynote addresses

‘Gender and Ventriloquism in the Victorian Novel’, for Female Voice/s in the Long Nineteenth Century, Durham University, May 2014

‘Sex, Death, and Neo-Victorian Freakery’, for Neo-Victorian Cultures: The Victorians Today, Liverpool John Moores University, July 2013.

‘Publishing for early career researchers’, for The F-Word in Contemporary Women’s Writing, Queen’s University, Belfast, April 2013.

Conference and Seminar papers:

Invited speaker: ‘Whose body? Freak Shows and Medical Exhibition: The Case of Joseph Merrick’, for Pint of Science Festival, Mima Art Gallery, Middlesbrough, May 2016.

‘Reviewing the Victorian Freak Show: Neo-Victorian Versions of Joseph Merrick’, for Culture Café, Nineteenth-Century Literature Series, October 2015.

Invited speaker: ‘Careers and Employability’ (workshop co-led with Dr Rachel Carroll), for Contemporary Women’s Writing AHRC Skills Development series, Leeds Metropolitan University, March 2014.

Invited speaker: ‘Seeing Queerly: Representing Queer Culture on British Television’, for LGBT History Month, Leeds City Art Gallery, February 2014

Invited speaker: ‘Neo-Victorian Ventriloquisms: Possession, voice and agency’, for Victorian Studies Research Seminar Series, Leeds Trinity University, December 2012.

Invited speaker: ‘Re-membering Chang and Eng: Neo-Victorian Fantasies of Conjoined Twins’ Sexuality’, for English Research Seminar Series, Teesside University, November 2012.

‘Re-Membering Victorian Freakery: Neo-Victorian Versions of the Freak Show’, for Neo-Victorian Networks: Epistemologies, Aesthetics, and Ethics, University of Amsterdam, June 2012.

‘Nothing But Svengali’? Recovering Trilby’s Memory in Neo-Victorian Fiction’, for The Nineteenth-Century Memory: Approaches and Appropriation, Leeds Trinity University College, March 2012.

‘Double Trouble: Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and the Neo-Victorian Uncanny’, for Contemporary Women’s Gothic, University of Brighton, November 2011.

‘Wilde on Trial, Gyles on Trial? Judging Brandreth’s Neo-Victorian Wilde’, for Neo-Victorian Art and Aestheticism, University of Hull, March 2011.

Invited speaker: ‘Public engagement: Interviews and the Media’, for Neo-Victorian Art and Aestheticism, University of Hull, March 2011.

‘Original Copy: Neo-Victorian versions of Oscar Wilde and authorial ‘voice’’, for Re-imagining the Victorians – 1901-2010, Leeds University, September 2010.

‘Queer performativity and Will Self’s Cock’, for Queer Manifestations, Chester University, June 2010.

‘A Moral Pornographer?: Sarah Waters’ re-imagining of Teleny’, for Rewrites: Studying Literary, Screen and Music Cultures, Leeds Metropolitan University, November 2009.

‘“A Prisoner of her Voice”: Negotiating the vocal body and gender in Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus’, for Writing Bodies/Reading Bodies in Contemporary Women’s Writing, University of Oxford, September 2009.

‘“The Love That Will Not Shut Up”: Queer Identity Politics in Will Self’s Dorian: An Imitation’, for Identity and Form in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Literature, Sheffield Hallam University, July 2009.

‘Puppets and Prisoners: Sarah Waters, Oscar Wilde, and the Politics of Manipulation’, for Echoes of the Past: Women, History and Memory in Fiction and Film, Newcastle University, June 2009.

‘Victorian Ventriloquisms: Trilby, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and anxieties about influence’, for Century’s End: Re-evaluating Literature, Art and Culture at the fin de siècle, Queen’s University, Belfast, September 2008.

‘Intertextuality for Dummies: Sarah Waters and Ventriloquial Influence’, for Adapting the Nineteenth Century: Revisiting, Revising and Rewriting the Past, Lampeter University, August 2008.

‘Talking Back to Butler: Queer Ventriloquism’, for Research Students Conference, Leeds Metropolitan University, June 2008.

‘Wilde Children: Angela Carter and the Influence of Oscar Wilde’, for Demythologising the Demythologiser: Re-visiting Angela Carter, University of Exeter, December 2006.


  • Davies, H. (2014) ‘Uncomfortable Connections? Conjoined Sisterhood in Contemporary Women’s Writing’. Contemporary Women’s Writing 8 (4): pp. 409-427.

  • Davies, H. (2011) ‘Original Copy: Neo-Victorian Versions of Oscar Wilde’s voice’. Neo-Victorian Studies 4 (1): pp. 1-21.

  • Davies, H. (2010) ‘Passive Puppets and Unruly Dummies: Gender and Ventriloquism in Sarah Waters’ Affinity’. Autopsia 1(1): pp. 41-64.

  • Davies, H. (2009) ‘“They whisper into my ears the tale of their perilous joy”: The Powers of the Feminine Voice in Oscar Wilde’s “The Fisherman and his Soul”’. The Oscholars, A Giant’s Garden: Special ‘Fairy Tale’ Issue, ed. Naomi Wood [online]. Available at: http://www.oscholars.com/TO/Specials/Tales/Fisherman_Davies.htm

  • Davies, H. (2008) ‘“Such Penetrating Power”: Seeing Queerly in Teleny and Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet’, The Oscholars, Teleny Revisited, ed. John McRae [online]. Available at: http://www.oscholars.com/TO/Specials/Teleny/davies.htm

  • Davies, H. (2015) Neo-Victorian Freakery: The Cultural Afterlife of the Victorian Freak Show. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Davies, H. (2012) Gender and Ventriloquism in Victorian and Neo-Victorian Fiction: Passionate Puppets. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Davies, H. and O’Callaghan, C. (eds.) (2016) Gender and Austerity in Popular Culture: Femininity, Masculinity and Recession in Film and TV. London: I. B. Tauris.

  • Davies, H. (2017) ‘“I raise the devil in you, not any potion. My touch. Me”: The Strange Case of Heterosexuality in Neo-Victorian versions of Jekyll and Hyde’ in B. Poore (ed.) Neo-Victorian Villainy. Rodopi/BRILL: Amsterdam (forthcoming).

  • Davies, H. (2016) ‘A Big Neo-Victorian Society? Gender, Austerity, and Conservative Family Values in The Mill’ in H. Davies and C. O’Callaghan (eds.) Gender and Austerity in Popular Culture: Femininity, Masculinity and Recession in Film and TV. London: I. B. Tauris, pp. 17-41.

  • Davies, H. (2016) ‘Written on the Body: Wounded Men and Ugly Women in The Little Stranger’ in C. O’Callaghan and A. Jones (ed.) Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 155-172.

  • Davies, H. (2015) ‘“You will call me sister, will you not?”: Friendship, solidarity, and conflict between women in Wilde’s society plays’ in M. Bennett (ed.) Oscar Wilde’s Society Plays. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 169-188.

  • Davies, H. (2012) ‘Self-ish sex? Que(e)rying sexual subversion in Will Self’s Cock and Bull and Dorian: An Imitation’ in J. Gwynne and A. Poon (eds.) Sexuality in Contemporary Literature. Amherst, New York: Cambria, pp. 81-104.

  • Davies, H. (2011) ‘The Trouble with Gender in Salomé’ in M. Bennett (ed.) Refiguring Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, pp. 55-69.

  • Davies, H. (2010) ‘Lesbian/Gay Studies and Queer Theory’ in J. Wolfreys (ed.)The English Literature Companion. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 314-321.

  • Davies, H. and C. O’Callaghan (eds.) (2014) Feminisms, Academia, Austerity. Special Issue of Journal of Gender Studies 23 (3).