Professor Matthew Sangster
- Professor of Romantic Studies, Fantasy and Cultural History (English Literature)
- Eighteenth-century and Romantic-period literature
- Archives and manuscripts
- Book History, particularly publishing and library history
- Material culture
- Institutional histories and practices
- Representations of London
- Digital Humanities
- Genre writing, particularly Fantasy and Science Fiction
- Contemporary narrative media
I joined the University of Glasgow in September 2016 from my previous post at the University of Birmingham. I completed my BA at the University of Cambridge, my MA at King’s College London and my PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London. Between 2008 and 2014, I worked at the British Library, cataloguing the archive of the Royal Literary Fund and contributing to exhibitions - I helped to research Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands in 2012 and co-curated (with Zoë Wilcox) The Worlds of Mervyn Peake in 2011. In 2013, I held a Fleeman Fellowship at the University of St Andrews and in 2015, I took up a Charles J. Cole Fellowship at the Lewis Walpole Library at Yale.
My doctoral project considered the nature of literary careers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, contending that the principal modes for achieving success as an author at this time were social, rather than professional, commercial or aesthetic. My work explored the meagre financial rewards offered by the publishing industry; the Royal Literary Fund and its struggling applicants; the contexts that allowed Robert Southey, Thomas Moore and Walter Scott to prosper by writing; the kinds of authority propagated by the powerful quarterly Reviews; and the crucial roles played by affiliation and networking in ensuring literary success. I have published an article and a book chapter that draw on this work and a heavily revised version was published as Living as an Author in the Romantic Period (Palgrave, 2021).
I have a keen interest in fantasy, science fiction and contemporary literature, having published on Mervyn Peake, China Miéville and fantastic cities. I am co-director of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic (with Dimitra Fimi) and a founding co-editor (with Brian Attebery and Dimitra Fimi) of the Bloomsbury Perspectives on Fantasy series. I teach on Glasgow's Fantasy MLitt and I supervise extensively in this area. I am currently writing a new introductory book on Fantasy's forms, histories and communities (to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2023) and working with the British Library on a large-scale exhibition.
I also work in the Digital Humanities. My catalogue of the Archive of the Royal Literary Fund, a charitable organisation set up in 1790 to provide confidential financial aid to struggling writers, consists of over 78,000 records covering applications from more than 3600 authors who first applied to the Fund between 1790 and 1939, as well as entries for minute books, annual reports and administrative papers. I have an ongoing digital project that examines the ways in which Romantic-period London was represented across a wide range of genres through juxtaposing different kinds of maps, images and accounts. I have published several journal articles and book chapters drawing on this work.
At present, I am working on digital projects examining eighteenth- and nineteenth-century reading using historic library records. I have completed a pilot project on the University of Glasgow's eighteenth-century borrowing registers and am collaborating with Professor Mark Towsey (University of Liverpool) and Professor Katie Halsey (University of Stirling) on two connected AHRC-funded projects examining transatlantic subscription libraries and book-borrowing in Scotland.
I have a longstanding interest in literary institutions (particularly libraries and universities). This resulted in the AHRC-funded ‘Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900’ research network, which I led alongside Professor Jon Mee (University of York) and which resulted in an edited collection (Cambridge University Press, 2022). We built on this work through a Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded network on 'The Media Revolution of the 1820s', which led to the collection Remediating the 1820s (Edinburgh University Press, 2023). I have published related research on literary institutions in London, the university library at St Andrews and the library of William Hunter.
I have served on the Executive of the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) since 2009. Currently, I am the association’s Website Editor and part of its Digital Events Committee. I chaired BARS' 2021 International Conference, Romantic Disconnections/Reconnections. I am co-editor of the open access journal Romanticism on the Net and technical editor for The BARS Review.
May 2020-December 2023: 'Books and Borrowing, 1750-1830: An Analysis of Scottish Borrowers’ Registers' (Co-Investigator) - a large-scale AHRC-funded collaboration with Katie Halsey (University of Stirling), creating and researching a digital database of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Scottish borrowing records to provide a new qualitative and quantitative basis for considering the history of Scottish reading.
October 2019-September 2023: 'Libraries, Reading Communities and Cultural Formation in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic' (Co-Investigator) - a large-scale AHRC-funded project led by Mark Towsey (University of Liverpool), conducting a transatlantic study of surviving subscription library records covering books, loans and subscribers.
April 2018-March 2020: 'The Media Revolution of the 1820s' (Principal Investigator) - a Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded research network assembled in collaboration with Jon Mee (University of York) to explore the importance of an understudied decade, during which the costs of printing fell dramatically, the speed of communications rose, mediating institutions expanded and new technologies of expression proliferated.
April 2018-July 2019: 'Enlightenment Readers in the Scottish Universities' (Principal Investigator) - a Carnegie Trust Research Incentive Grant-funded project seeking to digitise, transcribe, interpret and contextualise the University of Glasgow's surviving eighteenth-century library borrowing registers.
September 2016-December 2017: ‘Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900’ (Principal Investigator) - an AHRC-funded research network conducted in collaboration with Jon Mee. Details of the network's workshops can be seen on the project website; a publication is forthcoming.
March-April 2015: Charles J. Cole Fellowship, Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.
March-June 2013: Fleeman Fellowship, School of English, University of St Andrews. (resulting publication)
I have an ongoing collaborative relationship with the Royal Literary Fund, which supported my doctorate and which has provided subsequent tranches of funding to further my explorations of the RLF archive.
I have also secured numerous smaller grants to support my digitisation work and my attendance at conferences and symposia.
I am keen to supervise postgraduate students in any of my areas of expertise and am particularly keen to work with Romanticists, book historians and students of Fantasy. However, I am heavily committed at the moment, so am limited in how many new students I can currently take on.
I am currently co-supervising work on Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, Tolkien and ethics, contemporary representations of the Devil, liminal spaces in children's Fantasy, video games in contemporary fiction, the 1820s periodical the Glasgow Looking Glass, psychology and Fantasy gaming, Tolkien's poetry, Tamora Pierce, China Miéville, and Fantasy and Virtual Reality. Students I supervise are funded by the AHRC/SGSAH and the University's LKAS scheme.
- Francis Butterworth-Parr
- Gabriel Elvery
- Emma French
- Lucinda Holdsworth
- Kamran Hussain
- Christopher Lynch Becherer
- Mariana Rios Maldonado
- Danielle Schwertner
- Monica Vazquez
- Grace Worm
- Cleo O'Callaghan Yeoman
- Elvery, Gabriel
Pieces of Heart: Video Games, Affect and The Digital Fantastic
- French, Emma
Dungeons and Dragons as transformative fantasy
- Rios Maldonado, Mariana
Ethics, Femininity and the Encounter with the Other in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth Narratives
- Worm, Grace Ann Thomas
Female Fantasy: Tamora Pierce’s Influence on Contemporary Fantasy
- Louise Creechan, 'Unwriting Victorian Illiteracy' (PhD awarded 2020)
- Penelope Holdaway, 'An Exploration of Tolkien’s Changing Vision of Faërie through his non-Middle-earth Poetry' (PhD awarded 2021)
I teach widely across the curriculum at Glasgow. In recent years, I have led my own courses 'Visions of London (Senior Honours) and 'Fantasy Across Media' (MLitt); convened 'Inventing the Modern: Literature 1660-1780' (Junior Honours); and deputy-convened 'Writing and Ideology' (2A). I contribute teaching on Romantic-period topics and Book Hostory at MLitt level and lead sessions for the Research Training Course. In addition, I lecture on 'Poetry and Poetics' (1A), 'The Novel and Narratology' (1B), 'Literature 1780-1840' (Junior Honours) and the Junior Honours Core.