Staff Profile


Dr Susan Civale


School: School of Humanities & Educational Studies

Campus: Canterbury Main Campus

Tel: 01227 922265

Profile summary

Susan can be contacted at

Susan is a Romanticist with research interests in women’s writing of the long nineteenth century, life writing, the 'afterlives' of authors and of texts, and gothic literature. 

Susan's first monograph, Romantic Women's Life Writing: Reputation and Afterlife (Manchester University Press, 2019), considers how the publication of women’s ‘private’ lives, through diaries, auto/biographies, letters, and memoirs, influenced their literary afterlives.  The project focuses on Frances Burney, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Robinson, and Mary Hays, each of whom authored and/or inspired works of life writing.  These four authors offer distinct case studies in the complex effects of life writing on formations of authorship and reputation.   

She is now working on a book on Mary Shelley as a popular writer, which has been commissioned by the Key Popular Women Writers series.

Susan is currently Course Director for the BA (Hons) English Literature Programme, and Events Manager for the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW).  

Before joining CCCU, she taught at Middlesex University and at Birkbeck, University of London, where she completed her PhD.

Research and knowledge exchange

Susan has given public-facing talks, including a public lecture on Romantic Women Travel Writers as part of the Canterbury Festival 2021, offering thoughts on Jane Austen for the SaveAs Writers Awards Ceremony in 2017, and speaking to students at the Abbey School about Mary Wollstonecraft's life and legacy in 2018.

In 2017 and 2018, Susan received grant funding to establish the 'Romantic Novels 1817' and 'Romantic Novels 1818' seminar series, which culminated in a special issue of Romantic Textualities, edited by Claire Sheridan and Susan Civale, which is scheduled for publication in 2021.

Susan was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at Chawton House Library to pursue her research on Mary Robinson's fiction and Memoirs, which she took up in April 2016. 

Susan received a CCCU Faculty of Arts and Humanities Research Award in 2016 for her essay, '"Reader, I did not even have coffee with him": Lorrie Moore's Adaptation of Jane Eyre (1847) in A Gate at the Stairs (2009)', published in Studies in the Novel.

Susan is Events Manager at the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW).

Teaching and subject expertise

Susan is Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) and has a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching (Higher Education).  She teaches the following modules:

  • The Art of Criticism: Writing about Literature (Year 1)
  • Texts and Contexts (Year 1)
  • British Romanticism: 1785-1831 (Year 2)
  • Scandalous Romantics (Year 3)
  • The Art of Fact: Literary Nonfiction (Year 3)
  • Research and Scholarship (MA)
  • Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction (MA)

Susan has supervised postgraduate research projects on Minerva Press gothic novels, clothing in Victorian short crime fiction, the interventionist writing of Dinah Mulock Craik, and the figure of the witch in American fiction.      

Susan is Course Director for the BA (Hons) English Literature Programme at Canterbury Christ Church University.

She would be happy to supervise MA and MPhil/PhD projects in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women writers, life writing, genre fiction, literary afterlives (including neo-Victorian and neo-Gothic narratives), book history, and gothic literature.  

External activities

Invited Talks

  • 'Re-writing Women's History: Mary Hays's Female Biography (1803)', University College London Comparative Literature Lecture Series, January 2021.
  • 'A New Form of Feminism', University of Westminster English Research Seminar Series, November 2019.
  • 'The "Form" of Improvement in Mary Hays's Female Biography (1803)', North West Long Nineteenth-Century Seminar, Manchester Metropolitan University. July 2017.
  • 'Mary Wollstonecraft: Life, Work, Impact.' School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania. October 2016. 
  • 'Women’s Life Writing and Reputation: A Case Study of Mary Darby Robinson.' Keynote at Romanticism on Edge / Edgy Romanticism Symposium. Edge Hill University. April 2016.
  • 'Catherine Jane Hamilton, Life Writing, and Literary Identity.' London Nineteenth Century Studies Seminar, Institute of English Studies. February 2016.

Selected Conference Papers

  • 'Ann Radcliffe, Vampire Hunter: An Exploration of Paul Féval’s Vampire City (1875).' Victorian Inclusion and Exclusion, Victorian Popular Fiction Association, University of Greenwich, July 2021.
  • 'Poetry as Paratext in the Memoirs of the Late Mrs Robinson (1801): Biographical Facts and Fictions.' British Association of Romantic Studies International Conference, University of Nottingham, July 2019.
  • 'Educating Matilda Mary Hays: Romantic Life Writing and Legacy.'  Romanticism Goes to University Symposium.  Edge Hill University.  May 2018.
  • '"Living her own life, in her own way": Catherine Jane Hamilton's Biographies of Nineteenth-Century Women.' ICVWW Brontë to Bloomsbury Conference: Reassessing Women's Writing of the 1900s and 1910s. Canterbury Christ Church University. July 2017.
  • ‘"Beyond the power of utterance": Reading the Gaps in Mary Robinson’s Memoirs (1801).' Silence in the Archives Conference. Wolfson College, University of Oxford. November 2015.
  • 'Falkland’s Victorian Legacy: Caroline Clive’s revision of the Godwinian gentleman-murderer in Paul Ferroll (1855).' British Association of Romantic Studies Conference. Cardiff University. July 2015
  • '“The pioneers of the numerous authoresses of the present day”: Julia Kavanagh’s English Women of Letters and Catherine Jane Hamilton’s Women Writers: Their Works and Ways.'  ICVWW Brontë to Bloomsbury Conference: Reassessing Women's Writing of the 1860s and 1870s. ICVWW. Canterbury Christ Church University. July 2015.
  • 'Mary Wollstonecraft and the Early Nineteenth-Century Group Biographies.' Writing Women's Lives Colloquium.  Bath Spa University.  April 2015.

Publications and research outputs


  • Mary Shelley (book in preparation for Key Popular Women Writers series, forthcoming 2024)
  • Romantic Women's Life Writing:  Reputation and Afterlife (Manchester University Press, 2019)

Journal Articles

  • "Vampirism as Literary Piracy in Paul Feval's Vampire City (1875)", Global Nineteenth-Century Studies (Forthcoming 2022)
  • '"Austentatious": Comedy Improv and Austen Adaptation in the Twenty-First Century,' Women's Writing, 4 (Special Issue - Bicentennial Essays on Jane Austen's Afterlives) (November 2018)
  • "Women's Life Writing and Reputation: A Case Study of Mary Darby Robinson," Romanticism, 24:2 (Special Issue - Edgy Romanticism) (July 2018)
  • '"Reader, I did not even have coffee with him": Lorrie Moore's Adaptation of Jane Eyre (1847) in A Gate at the Stairs (2009),' Studies in the Novel, 48:3, Fall 2016, 343-63.
  • ‘The Literary Afterlife of Frances Burney and the Victorian Periodical Press,’ Victorian Periodicals Review, 44:3, 2011, 236-66.

Edited Journal Issues

  • 'Romantic Novels 1817 & 1818', Special Issue of Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840 (forthcoming 2022)

Other Outputs

  • "Catherine Jane Hamilton," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry (2018)

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Last edited: 13/12/2018 21:16:00