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Personal profile

Biography

After completing my doctorate at Oxford in 2013, I was a postdoctoral researcher in the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial & Postcolonial Studies at Linnaeus University, in Sweden. From 2014 to 2017 I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at King's College London, and I was appointed as Senior Lecturer at Roehampton in 2017. Recently I spent a year at Trinity College Dublin as a Marie Curie visiting fellow.

Research interests

I study literature of the 19th and early 20th Centuries, and I have a particular interest in how British culture was changed and enriched by the European encounter with India. This reflects my background: I originally trained as a historian of South Asia and I continue to look at Victorian Britain as a society intimately, often painfully intervolved with its overseas colonies. Particular interests for me have been cosmopolitan and migratory writers active in 1880s and 1890s London, and the circulation of books and translations throughout the British Empire. While my interests are mainly literary, I have also written on aspects of modern Indian history – including a Scandinavian railway contractor who made his fortune in 1860s Bombay, and the diaries of Irish soldiers serving in India.

In 2016 I published Meeting Without Knowing It: Kipling and Yeats at the Fin de Siècle (Oxford University Press), a comparative study of the two poets at the start of their careers in 1890s London. It won the 2017 University English Book Prize, and was shortlisted for one of the ESSE Book Awards. John Batchelor, writing in Modern Language Review, described it as ‘concise, ingenious, scholarly, dense, and illuminating’.

Research projects

Presently I am completing my second book, which seeks to make a contribution in two areas: translation studies and the history of reading. The appetite of Victorian readers for classical literature from Asia has been greatly underestimated. The popularity of the Arabian Nights and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is well known. But this was also an era in which freethinkers consulted the Quran, in which schoolchildren were given abridgements of the Ramayana to read, in which names like ‘Kalidasa’ and ‘Firdusi’ were carved on the façades of public libraries, and in which women’s book clubs discussed Japanese poetry. I am investigating the numerous popular translations that were created to make these texts accessible to the Victorian and Edwardian general readership.

Since 2016, I have collected over eighty copies of such translations which contain pencil notes left by their Victorian former owners. I am now cataloguing this collection, which I call AVaTAR (Archive of Victorian Translations from Asia and their Readership). I welcome any requests to visit Roehampton and examine these books.

I was recently awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to undertake my third major research project, on Victorian cultures of language-learning and multilingualism.

Qualifications

DPhil English (Oxford University, 2013)

MSt History (Oxford University, 2009)

BA English (Oxford University, 2008)

Teaching

On the BA English, I teach the first-year module Constructing the Classics, and in the second year Victorian Literature. For the BA English & History I teach nineteenth-century historical fiction in the second year, and the final-year module on colonial and postcolonial India. On the MA in Children's Literature, I teach World Literature for Children, 1880-1950, as part of the component on genre and form.

I would be pleased to hear from any prospective PhD students planning to work on Victorian literature, especially in connection with Asia and the British Empire, or in book history, the history of reading or history of translation.

Twitter: @sikandar_bubb

External positions

Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND Fellow, University of Dublin, Trinity College

1 Oct 201730 Sep 2018

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, King's College London

1 Oct 201431 Jul 2017