Professor Ruth Robbins, Director of Research

Professor Ruth Robbins

Director of Research

Ruth Robbins is Professor in English Literature and Director of Research for the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities. She has a wide range of research interests which span the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ruth's research interests centred originally on the late-Victorian period in English literature, especially the literature of Decadence, including the writings of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Symons and Vernon Lee - her book Pater to Forster, 1873-1924 (2003) deals with literature written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century period, and the edited collection Victorian Gothic considers that same period from the perspective of its supernatural and ghostly tales. Her most recent monograph, Oscar Wilde (2011) revisits her interests in the fin de siècle; additionally she is co-author of a book on the British Short Story (with Emma Liggins and Andrew Maunder, 2010). She also has research interests in literary theory, particularly post-structuralist theories and a wide range of feminist positions; her first book, Literary Feminisms, was published in 2000, and she edited, with Julian Wolfreys, two collections of essays concerned with the works of Jacques Derrida. Ruth also has interests in autobiographical writing. Her monograph Subjectivity was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2005. She has also published on women and the medical profession (Medical Advice for Women, 1830-1914 for Routledge, an anthology of nineteenth-century texts on the subject, was published by Routledge in 2009). Her most recent book-length publication is the edited collection (with Christopher Webster) Through the Pages: The Leeds Library at 250, which draws together local historians, library staff and local poets and fiction writers to celebrate the history of this Leeds landmark.

Ruth has experience of research supervision and is keen to work with students on any of the areas of her research interests, i.e. nineteenth-century literature; feminism and poststructuralism; autobiography; and women and the medical profession in the nineteenth-century; Victorian and early modernist literature more generally; contemporary women's writing.


Current Teaching

Ruth currently leads the Creative Criticism module on the MA in English and Nineteenth-Century Contexts - a module that appears on the undergraduate English programmes. She also teaches Watching the Detectives (English and History), and The Gothic (a third-year option for all the English programmes, and contributes to Literatures of Romanticism (2nd year module for all the English programmes).

Research Interests

Ruth's current work is focused on a literary life of Virginia Woolf, which will bring together several of her interests around a single author - biography and autobiography, questions of literary history, theories of authorship and theories of reading.

As is also the case with her previous 'literary life' of Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf's writing career is partially overshadowed by the tragic circumstances of her life: of her multiple instances of mental distress and her eventual suicide. The book, currently in preparation, investigates the relationship between writing and living in Woolf's case.

Professor Ruth Robbins, Director of Research

Ask Me About

  1. Literature
  2. Writing

Selected Outputs

  • Robbins R; Webster C eds. Robbins RC; Webster C (2018) Through the Pages: 250 Years of the Leeds Library. Leeds: The Leeds Library.

  • Wolfreys J; Robbins R; Womack K (2013) Key Concepts in Literary Theory. 3rd Edition Edinburgh University Press.

  • Robbins R (2011) Oscar Wilde. Continuum Intl Pub Group.

  • Maunder A; Liggins E; Robbins R (2010) The British short story. Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Robbins R (2010) Medical Advice for Women, 1830-1915. Routledge.

  • Robbins R (2005) Subjectivity. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Robbins R (2003) Pater to Forster, 1873-1924. Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Wolfreys PJ; Robbins PR; Womack PK (2002) Key Concepts in Literary Theory. Edinburgh University Press.

  • Robbins R (2000) Literary Feminisms. Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Robbins R; Wolfreys J (2000) Victorian Gothic: Literary and Cultural Manifestations in the Nineteenth Century. Palgrave MacMillan.

  • Robbins RC (2016) A Woman's Work is Never Done? Women and Leisure in the Nineteenth Century and Beyond.

  • Robbins RC (2013) Telling the Dancer from the Dance: Image, Dancer, Text (inaugural lecture).

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  • Robbins R (2019) The Importance of Artifice: Ritual and Language Play in the Importance of Being Earnest. In: Roden FS ed. Critical Insights: Oscar Wilde Print Purchase Includes Free Online Access. New York: Salem Press, pp. 125-142.

  • Robbins RC (2018) Gender and Genre in the Short Story. In: Delaney P; Hunter A ed. The Edinburgh Companion to the Short Story in English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 293-312.

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  • Robbins RC (2016) 'The seasoned spirit of the cunning reader': The Textual Subversions of The Turn of the Screw. In: Womack, K; Decker JM ed. Victorian Literary Cultures: Studies in Textual Subversion. Madison Wisconsin: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, pp. 153-164.

  • Robbins RC (2015) Always Leave Them Wanting More: Oscar Wilde's Salome and the Failed Circulations of Desire. In: Ford J; Edwards Keates K; Pulham P ed. Economies of Desire at the Victorian Fin de Siecle: Libidinal Lives. New York and Abingdon UK: Routledge, pp. 21-34.

  • Robbins RC (2012) Clog Dancers and Clay: Empathy, Geology and Geography in Arnold Bennett's Clayhanger. In: Cockin K ed. The Literary North. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 73-86.

  • Robbins RC (2012) Late Victorian and Early Modern Responses to Modernism. In: Casaliggi C; March-Russell P ed. Legacies of Romanticism. Routledge, pp. 117-129.

  • Robbins RC (2010) "Feminism" and ‘Careers for English Graduates. In: Wolfreys J ed. The English Literature Companion. Palgrave Macmillan,

  • Robbins RC (2010) The Short Story: Ghosts and Spectres. In: Maunder A ed. Teaching Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 109-130.

  • Robbins RC (2009) (Not Such)Great Expectations: Unmaking the Maternal Ideal in Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child and Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin. In: Ridout A; Watkins S ed. Doris Lessing. Continuum International Publishing Group, pp. 92-106.

  • Robbins RC (2008) Mapping the Future of Victorian Studies. In: Willis M ed. The Victorian Literature Handbook. Continuum, pp. 204-216.

  • Robbins RC (2006) Death Sentences: Living with Dying in Narratives of Terminal Illness. In: Gill J ed. Modern confessional writing. Psychology Press: New Critical Essays,

  • Robbins RC (2003) Flirting. In: Wolfreys J ed. Glossalalia: An Alphabet of Critical Keywords. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 91-104.

  • Robbins RC (2001) Will the Real Feminist Theory Please Stand Up? Notes towards readings of Mrs Dalloway and Middlemarch. In: Wolfreys J ed. Introducing literary theories. Edinburgh University Press,

  • Robbins RC (2000) The Genders of Socialism: Eleanor Marx and Oscar Wilde. In: Stokes J ed. Eleanor Marx (1855-1898). Ashgate Publishing,