Claire Furlong



College: College of Humanities
Discipline: English
Department: English
Research Centre/Unit: Centre for Victorian Studies

I completed my PhD, "Bodies of Knowledge: Science, Medicine and Authority in Popular Periodicals, 1832-1850", in July 2015. The examiners were Professor Sally Shuttleworth (Oxford) and Professor Staffan Müller-Wille (Exeter). My project was funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council studentship. 

I graduated with a degree in English from the University of Liverpool before gaining an MA in Colonial and Post-Colonial Cultures from the University of Sussex. Following this I trained and worked as a solicitor, specialising in large government projects. I returned to academia in October 2011. I have since then taught on several undergraduate modules at the University of Exeter. I have also worked as a tutor for the Brilliant Club, a charity focused on widening participation, for which I designed and taught a course for secondary school pupils based on my PhD research.

My thesis explores the treatment of scientific themes and language in popular nineteenth-century periodicals, in particular those consumed by working-class men and women, a section of the press that remains relatively underexplored in this context. Such material widely informs the content of these publications, from fiction to jokes to full-length factual articles. However, the role of the periodicals is much wider than simply the transmission of received ideas, and the thesis shows how the periodicals engage with modern science in complex and varied ways, accepting, modifying and challenging theories and methods from positions informed by their political, commercial and spiritual aims as well as their editors' relationships to the scientific establishment.  

My essay, "Health advice in popular periodicals: Reynolds’s Miscellany, the Family Herald, and their correspondents", was awarded the 2015 VanArsdel prize by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals. It was published in the Spring 2016 edition of Victorian Periodicals Review.