Ruth Robbins is Professor of English Literature and head of the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities. Her work has focused on the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, on autobiography, on literary theory and on particular writers such as Oscar Wilde and Arnold Bennett.
Ruth’s research interests centre on the late-Victorian period in English literature, especially the literature of Decadence, and include the writings of Oscar Wilde, Arthur Symons and Vernon Lee – her book Pater to Forster, 1873-1924 (2003) deals with literature written in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century period. Her recent book Oscar Wilde (2011) revisits her interests in the fin de siècle; additionally she is co-author of a book on the British Short Story (with Emma Liggins and Andrew Maunder, 2010).
She also has research interests in literary theory, particularly post-structuralist theories and a wide range of feminist positions; her first book, Literary Feminisms, was published on feminist theories in 2000. Ruth also has interests in autobiographical writing. Her monograph Subjectivity was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2005. She has also published on women and the medical profession (Medical Advice for Women, 1830-1914 for Routledge, an anthology of nineteenth-century texts on the subject, was published by Routledge in 2009).
Ruth is working on a number of different projects at the moment, including essays on Arnold Bennett and on late-nineteenth-century masculinity.
Additionally, her next large project will be a cultural study of the figure of the dancer in the art, literature and actuality of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this period dancers were everywhere – in imagery from the high art of Degas and Renoir through to the more ephemeral art-nouveau poster products (themselves often produced by serious artists like Mucha or Toulouse-Lautrec) which advertised night life in Western Europe in the period. As in art, so too in literature. This new project focuses on the intersections between cultural representations (largely male-authored) and the lived experiences of the (mostly female) dancers from the 1880s to the 1910s. In tracing these particular stories, Ruth hopes to show an alternative history of both the late nineteenth century and of the development of modernist aesthetics.