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Professor Carl Plasa

BA (Oxon); MA, PhD (Southampton)


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 29208 75013
John Percival Building, Room 2.13, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am part of the School's English Literature and Critical and Cultural Theory research groups. 

My current project is a monograph exploring the literary legacies of Elizabeth Siddal in a range of bioigraphical, fictional and poetic texts published since 1932, the year which saw the appearance of Violet Hunt's wonderfully undisciplined The Wife of Rossetti: Her Life and Death. Please see under 'Research' for a working abstract.

I have written numerous essays and articles on British, American, Caribbean and African American Literature, as well as three books: Slaves to Sweetness: British and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar (Liverpool UP, 2009); Charlotte Brontë (Palgrave, 2004); and Textual Politics from Slavery to Postcolonialism: Race and Identification (Macmillan, 2000). I have also completed a further book titled Literature, Art and Slavery: Ekphrastic Visions, to be published by Edinburgh University Press in its “Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures” series in October 2023 (in press). 

Also in press:

“Charlotte Brontë’s Mythic Figures: Prometheus and Medusa in ‘The Death of Napoleon,’ The Professor and Jane Eyre,” in Edinburgh Companion to the Brontës and the Arts, ed. Deborah Wynne and Amber Regis (publication 2023 or early 2024).

Please see "Publications" for a fuller list of published works.














  • Plasa, C. 2010. Saccharographies. In: Emig, R. and Lindner, O. eds. Commodifying (Post)Colonialism: Othering, Reification, Commodification and the New Literatures and Cultures in English. Cross/cultures Vol. 127. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 41-61.






  • Plasa, C. 2004. Charlotte Brontë. Critical Issues. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.










Book sections



As noted on the 'Overview' page, I am at present researching a book on the literary legacies of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1829-62) across a range of texts written since 1932. As well as being an artist and a poet in her own right, Siddal was (briefly) wife to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and is well-known as the model for two of the Pre-Raphaelites’ most famous and enduring paintings, John Everett Millais’ Ophelia (1851-2) and Rossetti’s own Beata Beatrix (1864-70). She also had the distinction of being exhumed by her widower, some seven years after her death from a laudanum overdose, in order for him to retrieve the manuscript of his poems that he had buried with her in Highgate Cemetery’s Grave No. 5779. How have Siddal’s remarkable life and the even more remarkable aftermath to her demise, along with the paintings already adduced, been remembered and reimagined in the biographical, fictional and poetic texts produced over the period which this book encompasses?

With the approaching bicentenary of Siddal’s birth in 2029, increasing critical, creative and public attention is likely to be directed towards this multifaceted Pre-Raphaelite figure and this book is intended as a major contribution to these broad cultural developments (already evident in the shape of the 2023 exhibition, “The Rossettis,” at Tate Britain).

  • Elizabeth Siddal and her literary afterlives
  • Literary and visual representations of slavery
  • African American literature 
  • Caribbean literature
  • Victorian literature


My current teaching portfolio includes first-year lectures on Transforming Visions: Text and Image, together with a second-year module on African American literature from Frederick Douglass to Toni Morrison and a third-year module on literary representations of Caribbean slavery from the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries. I also teach an MA option titled Postcolonial Brontë.


I am currently a Professor of English Literature at Cardiff, having worked previously at the Universities of Manchester and Cork.


I would welcome applications from students working in any of my main research areas:

  • Pre-Raphaelitism and its literary legacies
  • Literary and visual representations of slavery
  • Ekphrastic literature
  • African American literature 
  • Victorian literature (particularly Charlotte Brontë and Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

I am currently supervising the following doctoral students:

Morgan Lee, researching spectrality in Tennyson's poetry, with particular reference to forms of literary and cultural memory:

Gareth Smith, "Class, Culture and Citizenship: Queer Literature In Post-War Britain" (co-supervision with Professor Irene Morra, University of Toronto)

Joanne Rush (co-supervision with Professor Gerard Woodward at Bath Spa University): “(Re)constructing Historical Paintings: an exploration of the affective possibilities and veridical implications of notional portraiture in neo-historical fiction” (AHRC-funded Creative Writing thesis).

    Past projects

    Since 1996, I have supervised the successful completion of 14 PhDs, as detailed below: 

    2016: Caleb Sivyer, “The Politics of Gender and the Visual in Virginia Woolf and Angela Carter.”

    2014: Jayne Thomas, “From Allusion to Intertext: Reading Wordsworth in Tennyson, Browning and Hopkins.”

    2014: Mohamed Maaloum, “The Loss of the Referent: Identity and Fragmentation in Richard Wright’s Fiction.”

    2013: Phillip Roberts, “Cinema and Control.”

    2013: Theresa Wray, “A Reappraisal of the Short Stories of Mary Lavin.”

    2011: Anthony Austin, “‘The Great Dread of Our Age’: Reading Alzheimer’s and the Gothic.”

    2009: Renée Chow, “Postcolonial Hauntologies: Creole Identity in Jean Rhys, Patrick Chamoiseau and David Dabydeen.”

    2008: Jodie Matthews (currently Research Fellow, Academy for British and Irish Studies, University of Huddersfield), “Reading the Victorian Gypsy.”

    2004: Dale Duddridge, “‘Ein Anderer Schauplatz’: Theatrical Visions in Freudian Psychoanalysis.”

    2002: Sean Purchase, “Dickens’s Silent Empire.”

    2001: Adam Woodruff, “Walter Benjamin and Modernism: Towards a Poetics of Urban Representation.”

    1999: Tiffany Atkinson (currently Professor of Creative Writing, University of East Anglia), “The Dissenting Flesh: Corporeality, Representation and Theory.”

    1998: Simon Lee-Price, “Racial Hybridity and the Harlem Renaissance: History, Literature, Theory.”

    1996: Alan Grossman (currently Director of the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, Dublin Institute of Technology), “‘Things Welsh’: Identities on the March(es).”


    Research themes


    • The literary afterlives of Elizabeth Siddal
    • Literature and slavery
    • ekphrasis
    • Victorian literature