Current Students

Helen McKelvey

My research focusses on the neglected trope of religion within French slavery narratives. Focussing on the nineteenth century, my thesis aims to explore the different ways in which religion from across the Atlantic world (including not only Christianity, but also Islam, Voodoo and Animism) has been used to frame representations of slavery and the Slave Trade and show that many of the dominant themes these narratives contain – sacrifice, captivity, freedom, justice, salvation, and transcendence – are couched in religious imagery. By close reading a range of nineteenth-century novels, poems and short stories and placing them within their socio-historical context, I will show that religion is indissociable from slavery in the nineteenth century, and that such an approach is complementary to the post-colonial and gender studies-based approaches that have so far been taken towards slavery narratives. My research seeks to redress the significant bias towards Anglophone scholarship in the study of religion and slavery and responds to the resurgence of interest in religion in a post-secular world. A final strand in my research explores the legacy of religion in contemporary slavery narratives, whether retrospectively in the Transatlantic Trade, or in representations of the epidemic of modern-day slavery.

Supervisory Team: Dr Steven Wilson, Modern Languages (Queens University Belfast), Dr Maeve McCusker, Modern Languages (Queens University Belfast), Dr Martin Dubois, English Literature (Newcastle).

Start Date: October 2018