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Simon Clewes

Languages and Literature, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Happily Never After: Male-Male Desire and Love in the Gothic Writing of William Godwin and his Circle

My research explores queerness and transness in the novels of William Godwin (1756-1836), and that of his circle (particularly Percy and Mary Shelley, William Godwin Jr., Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Joanna Baillie). 

I am working to uncover an important queer history that can be traced in the literature of this period, demonstrating how a reading of non-heteroeroticism and gender non-conformity can help modern queer thinkers understand how these authors worked to destabilise the increasing powerful categories of fixed, essentialised gender at the time in which they were writing.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


"Albert's soul looked forth from the organs of Madeline": Anticipating Transness in William Godwin Jr.'s Transfusion (1835)
Selected for publication in the 'Romantic Futurities' special issue of the Romanticism on the Net journal, July 2021.


Conference organisation:

Co-organiser of the 'Romantic Reputations' virtual PGR and ECR symposium, 21 April 2021.

Selected conference pariticipation:



"Queerness in the Godwin-Shelley Writing Cirlce"
OUTing The Past International Festival of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans History, September 2021


"This must be a friend, who is to me as another self": The Desire to Transcend Difference and Distance in 
Casimir's Search for a Male Soul-Mate in William Godwin's Fleetwood (1805)
Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies 'Distance' International PGR Conference, 3-14 August 2020.

"Albert's soul looked forth from the organs of Madeline": Anticipating Transness in William Godwin Jr.'s Transfusion (1835)
British Association for Romantic Studies 'Romantic Futurities' ECR & PGR Conference, 12-13 June 2020; selected for publication in the Romanticism on the Net journal, due July 2021. 


Non-Heteroerotic Desire in the Gothic Writing of William Godwin 
A poster presentation at M4C Research Festival, Birmingham, 23 May 2019

Other Research Interests

  • Queer theory 
  • Sexuality studies
  • Gender performance 
  • Masculinity theory

Previous career experience and qualifications

MRes Sexuality and Gender Studies, University of Birmingham, 2015-2016, dissertation passed without corrections.

BA (Hons) English and American Literatures, University of Keele, 2009-2012, first-class honours.

Previous career experience as a journalist (features), 2012-2015, NCTJ-trained to gold standard.


Web Studio Training on Adobe inDesign, University of Nottingham (2019)

Royal Literary Fund Academic Writing Workshop, University of Birmingham (2019)

Mental Health and Wellbeing Workshop, University of Nottingham (2018)

The Brilliant Club Teaching Workshop, University of Nottinham (2018)