Dr. Richard Leahy

Dr. Richard Leahy
Room 301, New Arts


Prior to joining the School of English at Bangor, I studied and taught at the University of Chester, where I gained my PhD in August 2016 for a thesis entitled 'Artificial Illumination in Nineteenth Century Literature: Light, Dark, and the Spaces In Between'. I have extensive experience of teaching Introductory Critical Theory modules, and have also taught on more general Introductory Literature Seminars, as well as Nineteenth Century topics such as the fin-de-siècle and the relationship between science, literature and technology, and authors H.G. Wells, E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton.


QXE1013 - Studying Literature
Director of Writing Centre at the School of English


I have incredibly varied research interests, although they are mainly centred around Nineteenth Century Culture and Literature. My thesis, which I intend to work into a monograph, explores the relationship between illumination, culture and literature throughout the Nineteenth Century. It examines the gradual transition of domestic artificial light, such as candles and firelight, to mass-networked light sources such as gaslight and electric light, in terms of its presence in literature and its influence over the altered psyche of the period. Analysing light in this period allowed me a unique insight into the changing nature of vision, and the growth of urban spectacle and modernity.

The use of light in the literature I examine correlates with important aspects of the Nineteenth Century. For example, in the first chapter I examine the nature of firelight in the Industrial Novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, where it comes to symbolise different things to different classes; in the second chapter I examine the versatility of the candle as a symbol within gothic, detective, and sensation narratives, paying particular focus to Wilkie Collins; the third chapter examines gaslight's metaphoric potential within the cities it lit, particularly in Emile Zola's Paris and Dickens's London; the fourth exposes the rapid development of electric light and its transition from something fantastical and ever-present in the early Science Fiction of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne to something almost mundane in the realist fiction of E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton. 

I am currently working on an article based on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and how light functions as a symbol of his faith and doubt within selected poems. As well as this, I am carrying on my research into Nineteenth Century networks of desire, advertisement and consumption, which has its roots in the final chapters of my doctoral thesis.

I also have an interest in twentieth-century American literature and its depictions of the American Dream and issues of gender. I am working on a number of articles and conference papers on American author Gillian Flynn, who has rarely been written on from a critical perspective. 


‘Fire and Reverie: Domestic Light and the Individual in Cranford and Mary Barton’ in The Gaskell Journal, Vol. 28 (The Gaskell Society, 2014)

‘Artificial Light in the Nineteenth Century: Candlelight and Gaslight; or the Individual and the Network’ in Kaleidoscope: Light, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Durham University, 2014)

‘The Literary Realisation of Electric Light in the Early 20th Century: Artificial Illumination in H.G. Wells and E.M. Forster’ in Dark Nights, Bright Lights: Night, Darkness and Illumination in Literature, eds. Susanne Bach and Folkert Degenring (Berlin: Degruyter, 2015)

‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Class and the Uncanny’ for the BAVS Neo-Victorianist Blog (May, 2016)

Sherlock: ‘The Abominable Bride’: Recreating Nineteenth Century Illumination in the Neo-Victorian Space for the BAVS Neo-Victorianist Blog (May 2016)

Selected Conference Papers:

University of Chester Postgraduate Research Symposium, November 2013 – ‘Fire and Reverie in the works of Elizabeth Gaskell.’

Gladstone’s Colloquium, February 2014 – ‘The Candle and Victorian Literary Spaces.’

University of Cambridge’s ‘Thinking with Things’ Seminar Series, April 2014 – ‘The Candle in Detective and Gothic Fiction.’

Paris Diderot University’s ‘Uses of Light in British Arts of the Nineteenth Century Conference’, June 2014 – ‘The Candle and Lacan’s Gaze.’

The British Society For Literature and Science Annual Conference, University of Liverpool, April 2015 – ‘Candlelight and Gaslight, or Individuality and Modernity.’

British Association of Victorian Studies Conference, Cardiff, August 2016 ‘Networks of Consumerism and Technology in the works of Émile Zola.’