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Dr Alexander Bubb

Alex-Bubb-2Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow

Tel +44 (0)20 7848
Address Department of English
King's College London
Room 7.30 Virginia Woolf Building
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6LE

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From 2011 to 2013 I was a Senior Scholar at Hertford College in Oxford, where I completed my PhD. I then spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at Linnaeus University in Sweden, where I worked on the newly-discovered archive of a colonial railway contractor. I came to King’s in 2014.

Research interests

I research the 19th and early 20th centuries, with a particular focus on the British and Irish relationship with colonial India. 

Asian Classics for Victorian Bookshelves, 1845-1915

Currently I am writing a book about a reading culture stimulated, as never before, by redactions and reinventions drawn from the ‘oriental’ canon. It will tell the story of the authors, publishers, and illustrators who 'translated' scholarly editions of classic literature from Asia into popular versions for the Victorian general reader, and produced a generation as likely to reach in a dull moment for Fitzgerald’s Omar Khayyám or the Arabian Nights as for Horace or Walter Scott.

Rudyard Kipling and W.B. Yeats

The entangled early careers of these two contemporaries (born 1865) were the subject of my first book Meeting Without Knowing It. It recovered a textual and political relationship between the two poets which, due to the canon-making efforts of Edwardian critics, had slipped out of the historical record. Through parallel readings, it also traced the common concerns and discourses that weave together Aestheticism, ‘New’ Imperialism, the Celtic Revival and other fin de siècle cultural trends.

Other Projects

Lives – like Yeats and Kipling’s – spent in transit through the imperial world have led me to several areas of Indian historical enquiry. These have included Irish identities and soldier-poetry within the Indian colonial military, the cosmopolitanism of Indian migrant intellectuals (such as Gandhi and Vivekananda) in America and London, and the role of non-British contractors and speculators during the 1860s Bombay cotton boom.

Recently I have moved into the field of book history, and published an essay on the strange cultural destinies attained by certain books thanks to the unpredictable routes of textual circulation in the British Empire.

For a full list of my publications, please see my full research profile

Selected publications
  • Meeting Without Knowing It: Kipling and Yeats at the Fin de Siècle (Oxford University Press, 2016)
  •  ‘Reading by Chance in a World of Wandering Texts’, in Elleke Boehmer, Rouven Kunstmann, Priyasha Mukhopadhyay and Asha Rogers (eds.), The Global Histories of Books: Methods and Practices (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
  • ‘An Element of Risk: the Corrupt Contractor in Indian Fiction and Film, 1886-1983’, Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, 4: 1 (2017)
  • ‘The Residue of Modernity: Technology, Anachronism and Bric-à-Brac in Anglo-Indian Writing’, in Laura Marcus, Michèle Mendelssohn and Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (eds.), Oxford Twenty-First Century Approaches to Literaure: Late Victorian into Modern, 1880-1920 (OUP, 2016)
  • ‘The Provincial Cosmopolitan: Kipling, India and Globalization’, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 49: 4 (2013), 391-404
  • 'Legacy of an Experimental Generation: Three Iconic Indian Travellers in 1890s London’, in Susheila Nasta (ed.), India in Britain: South Asian Networks and Connections, 1858-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
  • ‘The Life of the Irish Soldier in India: Representations and Self-Representations, 1857-1922’, Modern Asian Studies, 46: 4 (2012), 769-813

    For a full list of my publications, please see my full research profile

A global outlook on Victorian and Modernist literature is central to my approach, and I particularly enjoy teaching texts which have made a journey. This means travelogues like those of Robert Byron or Bruce Chatwin, novels written in exile or while traversing the imperial world (like Kipling’s Kim or Rao’s Kanthapura), or works that have journeyed across these same imperial networks via translation (such as Fitzgerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám). The courses on which I have taught at King's are: 'Victorians and Social Change' (2nd year) ‘Mapping Modernism’ (2nd year) 'Conflict' (MA)

I also prefer to teach Indian texts within specific historical contexts, such as by situating Premchand’s novel Godaan within 1930s politics and provincial electioneering.

Expertise and public engagement

I would be pleased to speak to the media about any aspect of my research, especially on the intertwined lives of Kipling and Yeats. 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of each poet’s birth.

In 2014 I curated an exhibition at the regional museum of Småland in Sweden on the career of Joseph Stephens, an Anglo-Scandinavian railway contractor who made his fortune in 1860s India. A public seminar was held to open the exhibition, and I was interviewed by local newspapers and by SVT (Swedish Television).

I have also written in the Indian media on a variety of topics, including the ongoing legal controversy over the criminalization of homosexuality in India, and on the strange tradition that is the Indo-British parliamentary cricket match.





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