OGOM PhD Research

If you are interested in undertaking PhD study and would like to work in any of the areas covered by the OGOM Project, you can contact Dr Sam George on email at s.george@herts.ac.uk  for a preliminary discussion. You can also send Sam a draft research proposal of no more than 3,000 words and she will respond with guidance and feedback. Sam is Associate Professor of Research at the University of Hertfordshire and she is the Convener of the Open Graves, Open Minds Project.

Sam is interested in seeing proposals from any aspect of Gothic literature and culture, particularly shapeshifters (dark fairies, werewolves etc.) and vampires and magical creatures (mermaids, selkies, the fae etc.); she is particularly open to gothic theses which intersect with fairy tale or folklore, and the fantastic and/or eco-gothic. She also has a specialism in YA fiction and the gothic. There is scope for students to be co-supervised by Sam (Gothic) and Professor Owen Davies (witchcraft, magic and folklore).  Owen is the new President of The Folklore Society and is also based at the University of Hertfordshire. For guidance on how your proposal should be structured, including subheadings, please see writing a research proposal.

OGOM has a number of PhD completions and has in the past offered bursaries to support outstanding students. The project recently gained a new PhD student, Daisy Butcher. Daisy is researching mummies, killer plants and the representation of the female monster: from nineteenth-century literature to contemporary film and television. The title of her project is: ‘Dangerous Wombs and Killer Blooms: The Female Mummy and Floral Femme Fatale as Monsters of (In)fertility’. Dr Sam George is Daisy’s primary supervisor. Daisy is partly funded by the OGOM Project and the Literature Department at the University of Hertfordshire. Last year she published her first edited collection, Evil Roots: Killer tales of the Botanical Gothic with the British Library whilst still a doctoral student at the university. 

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Funded PhD students attached to the Project include Dr Matt Beresford (again supervised by Sam). Matt successfully defended his thesis, ‘The Lord Byron / John Polidori Relationship and the Development of the Early Nineteenth-Century Literary Vampire’ in November 2019 and is teaching at the University of Nottingham. Matt is the author of  From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth and The White Devil: The Werewolf in European Culture

Dr Kaja Franck was also funded by the OGOM Project via a full-time bursary. She too was supervised by Sam and gained her doctorate in September 2017. Her thesis, ‘The Development of the Literary Werewolf: Language, Subjectivity and Animal/ Human Boundaries’ inspired the magnificent Company of Wolves Conference in 2015. Kaja is currently a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and has recently contributed to OGOM’s In the Company of Wolves book  and the University of Wales Press’s Werewolves, Wolves and The Gothic.

Sam also co-supervised a UH-funded project from Dr Jillian Wingfield, ‘Monsters, Dreams, and Discords: Vampire Fiction in Twenty-First Century American Culture’. Jillian was awarded her doctorate in January 2019. Jillian presented a paper at OGOM’s Polidori Symposium in 2019 and is contributing a chapter to the next OGOM book The Legacy of John Polidori, the Byronic Vampire, and its Progeny (MUP, 2023), edited by Sam George and Bill Hughes. 

In 2021 Sam gained two new PhD students whose work overlaps with the project: Shabnam Ahsan is working on ‘From Coloniality to Postcoloniality in British Fairy Tales 1880-Present’. Shabnam has a BAME studentship from the University of Hertfordshire, Sam is her primary supervisor and Victorian scholar Dr Andrew Maunder is her secondary supervisor.

Tatiyana Bastet is co-supervised by Sam, Prof Owen Davies, and folklorist Dr Ceri Houlbrook. The title of her thesis is ‘The Practice of Dolls as Conjured from Shadow: Materiality at the Intersection of Myth, Memory, and Magic’.

Gothic scholar!