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Charles Gough

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Queering the Soul: Sexuality and Self-Construction in Victorian Poetry

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, a significant group of poetic works emerged which foregrounded the soul as a means of examining the intricacies of queer sexual selfhood. Redirecting focus from the queer body as a site of perversion and sexual depravity – a notion which pervaded the late-Victorian cultural consciousness – toward the immaterial soul, such works put forth radical ideas of sexual subjectivity and imagined alternative models of same-sex love that were not predicated on sex or physical intimacy. This poetic treatment of the soul by queer writers in the late-Victorian era forms the principal focus of my doctoral research, and this project will investigate the ways in which a particular set of poets established in the final decades of the nineteenth century a mode of self-construction and expression in poetry that was contingent on the characterisation and transcendent capabilities of the soul.

Research Area

  • English Language and Literature
  • Languages and Literature


Charles Gough, 'Re-reading the Radical in John Addington Symonds's Memoirs: Poetry, Intertextuality, and Queer Self-Construction', Romance, Revolution, and Reform, Issue 5 (January 2023), 10-30, <https://www.rrrjournal.com/issue/5/article/re-reading-the-radical>


Charles Gough, "Recovering 'Angelo': The Textual (De)Construction of John Addington Symonds's Secret Sonnet Sequence", English Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick. (May 2023)

Charles Gough, "(Queer) Lyric Subjectivity in the Late-Victorian Sonnet Sequence: John Addington Symonds's Portrait of a Soul", English, Drama & Creative Studies PGR Symposium, University of Birmingham. (Dec 2022)

Charles Gough, "Marc-André Raffalovich's Queer Mysticism", BAVS 2022: British Association for Victorian Studies Annual Conference, University of Birmingham. (Sept 2022)

Charles Gough, "Queer Mysticism in Marc-André Raffalovich's 'Cyril'", Midlands4Cities Research Festival. (June 2022)

Charles Gough, "John Addington Symonds's Intertextual Selves: Poetry and Queer Self-Construction in the Memoirs", Oxford English Graduate Conference, University of Oxford. (June 2022)

Charles Gough, "Queer Mysticism in Marc-André Raffalovich's 'Cyril'", English Postgraduate Symposium, University of Warwick. (May 2022)

Other Research Interests

  • Poetry
  • Queer Studies
  • Decadence and Aestheticism
  • Visual Art
  • Life Writing / Confessional Writing


British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS)

British Association of Decadence Studies (BADS)

University of Birmingham Nineteenth-Century Centre (19CC)

Other Activities

  • Research Fellow - Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (AHRC International Placement Scheme 23/24)
  • Organiser & Moderator - 19CC Postgraduate Symposium 2023, University of Birmingham
  • Research Centre Assistant - Nineteenth-Century Centre (19CC), University of Birmingham
  • Conference Organising Assistant - BAVS 2022, University of Birmingham
  • Conference Ambassador - BAVS 2022, University of Birmingham


Birmingham City University

  • Visiting Lecturer, English Literature (UG Year 2 – The Victorians)                                           

University of Birmingham

  • Teaching Associate, English Literature (UG Year 1 – Poetry)
  • Teaching Associate, Academic Writing Advisory Service (UG & PGT College of Arts & Law)