Research planned for spring ’08 sabbatical

Dr. Patricia Murphy - Associate Professor of English

Dr. Patricia Murphy – Associate Professor of English

Alexandra Nicolas

With the completion of her second book, Sciences Shadow: Literary Construction of Late Victorian Women, Dr. Patricia Murphy, associate professor of English, has planned her sabbatical for the spring semester of 2008.

Murphy specializes in late Victorian literature, concentrating on authors like Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson.

With the completion of her book barely in the rear-view mirror, Murphy is already in what she calls “the planning stages of a new project.”

Murphy will be spending her sabbatical traveling to various libraries around the country to study the perceptions and conventions of women in the late Victorian era and how those ideas are present today.

“I’m looking at how culture constructs what it calls the ideal woman, and how that can be dangerous,” Murphy said.

She plans to primarily examine the gender relationships between the characters in Victorian literature and “power relationships in culture.” Murphy also plans to travel to London libraries to consult books, some of which have been out of print for more than 100 years.

“It’s utterly fascinating,” she said. “I really get to dig in.”

In addition to her work in Europe, Murphy plans to visit university libraries in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

Murphy said the power relationships she sees in the works of the late 19th Century are still present today.

“There’s a set idea of what it is to be a woman, anyone who deviates from that is seen as an oddity and somehow less valuable,” she said.

Following her sabbatical term, Murphy hopes to bring back a greater sense of the relationships between the genders and plans to continue writing articles about her findings.

Murphy is also the author of Time Is of the Essence: Temporality, Gender, and the New Woman, which examines social constructs and national anxiety.

Both of Murphy’s books are available at