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Francesca Adams

Research Postgraduate

Research Postgraduate in the Department of English Studies


My PhD project contends that ‘cultivation’ forms not only a focus for the rural novel of George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Victorian contemporaries, but a structuring principle and an unexplored way of thinking about novel-writing. My methodology combines close reading with eco-critical perspectives and attention to archival materials (agricultural manuals; livestock visuals; machinery and labour practices). I argue that, amidst an increasingly unstable concept of the ‘rural’, Eliot and Hardy consider the novel a cultivated space, managed by specific sets of agricultural and ecological cues and negotiations that reconsider the intersections between agriculture and literature.  

I undertook my MA in English Literary Studies at Durham (2021-22), completing my dissertation on iterations of unstable postcolonial space in the Victorian detective and sensation novel. Prior to arriving at Durham, I completed my English Literature BA at Lancaster University (2018-21) where I thoroughly enjoyed a passion project on Jane Austen and adapting space for screen as part of my undergraduate dissertation. Space, and the way it is moved through - inhabited - lived in - toiled - enjoyed - are research pastures I continue to return to. I am thoroughly fascinated by the rural myth and its proliferation across national identity, even before the rise of the agricultural revolution in my thesis' period.

My work is continually influenced by my upbringing on a working farm, of which I am lucky enough to enjoy both the literary agriculture of my research, as well as the more rugged hands-on realities. Outside of my research I enjoy painting and distance running, as well as making the most of any green space I can access. I explore all ideas of rurality, even up to modern negotiations of re-wilding and post-Brexit agricultural spheres, and would welcome any enquiries about my thesis, or even just on farming, ecology and space. 

Conference Papers

Francesca Adams, ‘’It was all very grand […] but not half so pleasant, if a horse may have an opinion’: Representations of Equine Agency', paper delivered at the conference 'Feeling in the Long Nineteenth Century' (Trinity College, Cambridge, 13th-14th January 2023).