Dr Carl Plasa - BA (Oxon); MA, PhD (Southampton)
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 75013
Location: John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cathays, Cardiff
I would welcome applications from prospective doctoral students working in any of my research interest areas.
Victorian literature; postcolonial literature and theory; African American writing; the literatures, cultures and histories of slavery.
Slaves to Sweetness: British and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009). Viii + 184pp.
‘Conveying Away the Trash: Sweetening Slavery in Matthew Lewis’s Journal of a West India Proprietor, Kept During a Residence in the Island of Jamaica’. Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, 50 (May 2008), 19 paragraphs.
‘“Stained with Spots of Human Blood”: Sugar, Abolition and Cannibalism’, Atlantic Studies: Literary, Historical and Cultural Perspectives, 4 (2007), 225-43.
‘George Eliot’s “Confectionery Business”: Sugar and Slavery in “Brother Jacob”’, LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, 16 (2005), 285-309.
Charlotte Brontë, ‘Critical Issues’ series (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Xvi + 190pp.
Textual Politics from Slavery to Postcolonialism: Race and Identification (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan / New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000). Vii + 172pp.
Books / Edited Collections
2009: Slaves to Sweetness: British and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar (Liverpool: Liverpool
University Press). Viii + 184pp.
2004: Charlotte Brontë (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave). Xvi + 190pp.
2001: Ed. and intro., Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea, Icon Readers’ Guides Series (Cambridge: Icon Books), 176pp.
2000: Textual Politics from Slavery to Postcolonialism: Race and Identification (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan/New York: St. Martin's Press). Vii + 172pp.
1998: Ed. and intro., Toni Morrison: Beloved, Icon Critical Guides Series (Cambridge: Icon Books), 167pp. (Second edition 2000).
1994: Ed. and intro. with Betty J. Ring, The Discourse of Slavery: Aphra Behn to Toni Morrison, Foreword by Isobel Armstrong (London and New York: Routledge). Xix + 226pp.
Articles and Essays
2008: ‘Conveying Away the Trash: Sweetening Slavery in Matthew Lewis’s Journal of a West India Proprietor, Kept During a Residence in the Island of Jamaica’. RaVoN: Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net, 50, 19 paragraphs.
2007: ‘“Muse Suppress the Tale”: James Grainger’s The Sugar-Cane and the Poetry of
Refinement’, 31 paragraphs.
2007: ‘“Stained with Spots of Human Blood”: Sugar, Abolition and Cannibalism’, Atlantic Studies: Literary, Historical and Cultural Perspectives, 4, pp. 225-43.
2005: 'George Eliot's "Confectionery Business": Sugar and Slavery in "Brother Jacob", LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory, 16, pp. 285-309.
2000: ‘Charlotte Brontë’s Foreign Bodies: Slavery and Sexuality in The Professor’, Journal of Narrative Theory, 30. 1, pp. 1-28.
1998: ‘Reading “The Geography of Hunger” in Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions: From Frantz Fanon to Charlotte Brontë’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 33. 1, pp. 33-45.
‘Tennyson Revised: Influence and Doubling in Four Quartets’, Symbiosis: A Journal of Anglo-American Literary Relations, 2. 1, pp. 1-21.
‘“To Whom Does He Address Himself?”: Reading Wordsworth in Browning’s Pauline’, in Varieties of Victorianism: The Uses of a Past, ed. Gary Day (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan/New York: St. Martin’s Press), pp. 161-78.
1995: ‘Revision and Repression in Keats’s Hyperion: “Pure Creations of the Poet’s Brain”’, Keats-Shelley Journal: Keats, Shelley, Byron, Hunt, and Their Circles, 44, pp. 117-46.
‘Fantasias of War: Language, Intertextuality and Gender in Dulce et Decorum Est’, Krieg und Literatur/War and Literature, 1, pp. 61-78.
1994: ‘“Silent Revolt”: Slavery and the Politics of Metaphor in Jane Eyre’, in The Discourse of Slavery, pp. 64-93.
1993: ‘“Qui Est Là?”: “Race”, Identity and the Politics of Fantasy in Wide Sargasso Sea’, Gulliver: Deutsch-Englische Jahrbücher, 34. 2, pp. 42-59.
1992: ‘“Cracked from Side to Side”: Sexual Politics in “The Lady of Shalott”’, Victorian Poetry, 30, pp. 247-64.
‘Lost in the Post-Miltonic: Reading Keats’s Letters’, Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, 15. 1, pp. 30-48.
1991: ‘Reading Tennyson in Four Quartets: The Example of “East Coker”’, English: The Journal of the English Association, 40, pp. 239-58.
At present, I am working on two projects. The first of these is relatively short-term, designed as an adjunct to earlier research on sugar and slavery and consists of two journal-articles on the representation of cotton in the white and black writing of America.
One article deals with conflicting images of the commodity in the poetry produced at the time of the Civil War by Henry Timrod, so-called ‘laureate of the Confederacy’, and the former Northern mill-girl, Lucy Larcom. These poets are in turn placed in critical dialogue with selected slave narratives by ex-slaves ranging from Moses Roper to Harriet A. Jacobs.
The other article examines W. E. B. Du Bois’s largely neglected first novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece (1911), showing how it figures cotton not only in economic terms but also as an aesthetic object with strangely mythical properties. Both aspects of this fictional schema are traced back to Du Bois’s formulation of the racial problem in The Souls of Black Folk (1903).
The second (longer-term) project is a monograph provisionally entitled Adventures in the Middle Passage. This examines white and black constructions of what Robert Hayden famously described as the ‘voyage through death’ and places particular emphasis on the generically diverse and often formally complex work emerging since the early 1990s. In its first chapter, the book examines writings circulating during the era of slavery itself, before moving, in Chapter 2, to Hayden’s seminal ‘Middle Passage’ (1966)—a poem marked by its own neo-Modernist complexities. In Chapters 3-6, the book shifts the focus towards contemporary fiction, poetry and drama and considers how these later writings challenge and transform the historical materials on which they draw. The main texts covered here are Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger (1992); David Dabydeen’s ‘Turner’ (1994); Marlene Nourbese Philip’s Zong! (2008): and Jackie Kay’s The Lamplighter (also 2008).
I am currently a Reader in English Literature at Cardiff, having worked previously at the Universities of Manchester and Cork.
My teaching portfolio includes undergraduate modules in Tennyson: Texts and Contexts, Charlotte Brontë, African American Writing 1900-1940 and Reading Toni Morrison. I also teach MA options in ‘Fanon, Theory, Literature’ and ‘Literature of the Middle Passage’. Recent and current doctoral supervisions include: Victorian literary representations of the gypsy; postcolonial Caribbean literature and the supernatural; and representations of mental illness in contemporary fiction.