Emma Swain

    Emma Swain

    Postgraduate research student

    For media contact email comms.office@qub.ac.uk
    or call +44(0)2890 973091.

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    2011-2014: B.Sc. Geography, First Class. Queen's University Belfast

    2014-2015: MA Human Geography: Society, Space and Culture, with Distinction. Queen's University Belfast

    2015- : Ph.D. 'Human-Animal Relations and the Religious Periodical Press in late-Victorian Britain'. Queen's University Belfast

    Research Interests

    My research interests include: 

    1. Historical Geographies of science and religion, especially in the Victorian period
    2. Animal Geographies; historical-cultural geographies of human-animal relations
    3. Science, print culture and the periodical press
    4. Victorian 'popular' science and scientific popularisers

    Research Statement

    Human-Animal Relations and the Religious Periodical Press in late-Victorian Britain

    The wide-ranging debates surrounding late-Victorian discourse on the relations between humans and non-human animals have been examined from a variety of perspectives. Harriet Ritvo's (1987) social history of animals in Victorian England unearthed the often contradictory meanings associated with pets, farming practices and zoological gardens. These more popular practices and representations occurred alongside changing understandings of human-animal relations associated with developments in evolutionary science and the study of human origins. As others have shown, such as Rod Preece (2003), 'popular' and scientific appraisals of human-animal relations clashed in late-Victorian controversies about animal experimentation. Yet, as Preece (2003) argues, much more remains to be examined about religious responses to late-Victorian debates about the nature and treatment of non-human animals and their difference from, or likeness to, humans. In detailing such responses, this project will contribute to this historical scholarship and will also connect with, and offer a new historical perspective on, a growing body of work in historical-cultural geography on animal geographies (for example Chris Philo and Chris Wilbert 2000). 

    This project connects to work on Victorian print culture and periodical literature. In analysing religious periodical literature, this project will investigate the conditioning effects of the cultural locations where periodicals were published, disseminated and read. Rather than offering an eclectic survey of religious opinion, this project will focus on specific periodicals as powerful but particular or 'situated' registers of theological views and religious identity. 


    Tutorials & Administration

    GAP1011: Human Geographies of the Modern World

    GAP1012: Spaces of Development 

    GAP3081: Geography Dissertation

    GAP2042: Contemporary Approaches to Geographical Enquiry


    GAP2047: Heritage and Land Use (Malta Fieldtrip, 24 April - 1 May 2017). Led project on 'Sacred Spaces,' focusing on the geographies of religious identities. 

    Welcome Week Mount Stewart Fieldtrip, 21 September 2017 & 20 September 2018. Led student exercise on the politics of the Formal Gardens. 


    GGY3066: Geography, Science and Society. Lecture on Geographies of Natural History: 'Victorian Plants and Animals'. (30 October 2017)


    Awards & Funding

    Full-fee bursary for MA as joint-top ranked applicant 

    Full DEL funding for current doctoral research

    Butler-Eyles Travel Grant (£70.73), British Society for the History of Science (2015)

    The 75th Anniversary Fieldwork Prize (£500), School of GAP, Queen's University Belfast (2016 & 2017)


    Conference Presentations

    St George Mivart and Popular Science in Britain and America, 1869-1880. Postgraduate Conference of the British Society for the History of Science, University of Cambridge, January 2016. 

    Late Victorian Animal Experimentation Debates and The Great Chain of Being in the Catholic Tablet. IAS Scale of Nature Conference, Durham University, 18 March 2017. 

    Science, Gender, and Animals in the Spectator, 1870-1900. HSTM Network Ireland Conference, RDS, Dublin, 14 October 2017. 

    Geography, Gender and the Animal Intelligence Debates in the Spectator, 1870-1900. Conference of Irish Geographers, Maynooth University, 10 May 2018. 

    Humans, Animals and Evolution in the late-Victorian Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine. HSTM Network Ireland Conference, Queen's University Belfast, 26 October 2018. 

    Media and Impact

    'Popular Representations of the Victorian Vivisection Debate in Punch Magazine' (8 January 2017). Published online at Beastly Histories, an interdisciplinary blog for the University of Bristol's 'Beastly Histories' research cluster.

    'Animals, Evolution and the Victorians.' Invited to give a lecture to members of the RDS and the general public, as part of the RDS Library Speaker Series. 3 October 2018. 

    Frequent Journals

    • Endeavour

      ISSNs: 0160-9327

      Additional searchable ISSN (Electronic): 1873-1929


      Scopus rating (2018): CiteScore 0.76 SJR 0.19 SNIP 0.13


    • The Wilkie Collins Journal

      ISSNs: 2052-2991


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    Contribution to conference papers, events and activities

    ID: 16426164