Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mary Mullen

I teach and write about the relationship between literature, history and politics with a particular emphasis on nineteenth-century English and Irish writing.  My current book project, In Real Time: Institutions, Anachronisms, and The Nineteenth-Century Novel, focuses on anachronisms, institutions, and nineteenth-century English and Irish realism.  Studying the novel’s confused chronologies and out-of-date characters, this project argues that realism locates its opposition to institutions in the very anachronisms that institutional time creates. It offers new readings of canonical novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and Charles Dickens alongside lesser-known Irish novels in order to reappraise the supposedly failed Irish realist novel. I examine nineteenth-century representations to throw light on our relationships to institutions today, claiming that nineteenth-century realism invites readers to imagine modes of inhabiting
contemporary institutions without accepting their narrow futurity.

I am also in the early stages of a project on the university that tracks the endurance of Victorian forms of cultural authority in contemporary higher education. Studying a moment when the university first became the subject of a public discourse, the project examines periodical literature, pamphlets, essays, and college novels from the nineteenth century alongside contemporary discussions of higher education to reveal the amnesia that accompanies neoliberalism’s “time-space compression.”

Both of these projects show my interest in thinking about the afterlives of Victorian social and literary forms through diverse methodologies: postcolonial and queer theory, Irish and Victorian studies, formalist and Foucauldian theory.