Dr Melissa Dickson

  • Literature and Science
  • Music and Literature
  • Music and Science
  • Literature and Medicine
  • Victorian Soundscapes
  • Constructions of the Orient in Britain
  • Childhood, Victorian Education, and the Child Reader
  • Arabian Nights

Having obtained a BA with first class honours, MPhil, and University Medal from the University of Queensland, Australia, I then moved to the UK and completed my PhD at King's College London in 2013.

My doctoral thesis, entitled Under Its Spell: The Arabian Nights in Early Nineteenth-Century Culture, investigated the proliferation and reception of the Arabian Nights in the print and material culture of early nineteenth-century Britain. Tracing the presence and use of the Arabian Nights in British theatre, travel writing, children's literature, fiction, and poetry, I argued that this protean story collection, one that was known since childhood and intimately associated with the childhood consciousness, was not simply a fantastic other against which to measure and define the imperial self; it was an integral component of that self, its imagination, its memories, and its dreams. I am currently converting this research into a monograph.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on ‘Diseases of Modern Life’, an ERC funded project based at St Anne’s College, Oxford, investigating nineteenth-century cultural, literary, and medical understandings of stress, overwork, and other disorders associated in the period with the problems of modernity. My own work within the project focuses on two of the project themes, education and overpressure, and nervous disorders and phobias, and I am also researching a monograph on explorations of the body’s physiological and psychological responses to sound and music in the nineteenth century.

I am a co-convenor of the Victorian Literature Graduate Seminar, which meets on Mondays at 5.15 during term.

Victorian Literature, Literature and the Senses, Literature and Science, Literature and Medicine


  • Confessions of an English Green Tea Drinker: Sheridan Le Fanu and the Medical and Metaphysical Dangers of Green Tea

  • Something in the Air: Dr Carter Moffat’s Ammoniaphone and the Victorian Science of Singing

  • Charles Wheatstone’s Enchanted Lyre and the Spectacle of Sound

  • Talking Things Through: Facilitating Academic Discussion in the Undergraduate Classroom

  • Jane Eyre's ‘Arabian Tales’: Reading and Remembering the Arabian Nights

  • More
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