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Laura Foster


Position: Postgraduate Researcher Email:
Area: English Literature

PhD Research

Working title: The Representation of the Workhouse in Nineteenth-Century Culture

My thesis explores the proliferation of visual and textual representations of the workhouse in the nineteenth century.  As well as factual narratives, such as investigative articles, newspaper reports and Poor-Law records, my research collates novels, short stories, poetry, wood engravings and paintings, in order to examine the cultural meanings and values attached to this institution. I examine the contradictory depictions of the workhouse as both a disciplinary institution and a charitable asylum and analyse the political and social ideologies inscribed in these conflicting representations. My research seeks to demonstrate how workhouse texts stage broader social concerns about poverty, charity and the city.

Supervisor: Professor Julia Thomas

Academic Background

PhD English Literature (start date October 2010)
MA English Literature, Cardiff University 2010
BA English Literature, Cardiff University 2008

Conferences, Symposia and Seminars


‘Representing the Workhouse in Victorian Visiting Narratives’, Social History Society Annual Conference 2012, University of Brighton, 3-5 April 2012

‘“Probing” the Workhouse in All the Year Round’, Charles Dickens and the Mid-Victorian Press, University of Buckingham, 29-31 March 2012

‘Representing the Deviant Individual: From the Newgate Calendars to the Newgate Novel’, Swansea University Postgraduate History Forum, Swansea University, 23-24 June 2011

Other conference activity

Member of steering committee, Voice of Humanities, Cardiff University, 22 March 2012


I am a seminar tutor for year one English Literature and am working towards associate membership of the HEA.