Dr David Clifford

College position:

College Associate Professor, Director of Studies in English (Part IA, Part II), and Tutor

David Clifford
David Clifford

I completed my PhD at Cambridge in 2000 under the supervision of Prof. Gillian Beer. Prior to this I gained a BA in English and Related Literature from the University of York and a Masters in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck College, University of London. I am interested in the intersection between literature and anthropology and between literature and the history of science. My published work looks mainly at Victorian literature, especially as it intersects with debates about evolution and politics, and on contemporary literature. I am currently developing an anthropological study of the role of the humanities.

Most of my undergraduate teaching is on literature from 1800 to the present day, particularly Victorian literature and the Victorian psychological novel, and I teach Practical Criticism and Critical Practice to students in all three years. For Part II (third year) students I supervise the Victorian Literature special paper and the Contemporary Literature paper.

Prospective PhD Applications: My successful PhD candidates to date have all worked on literature and the history of science, both in the nineteenth century and in contemporary literature. Though my own focus tends to be on evolutionary biology I am happy to look at topics addressing other scientific ideas.

Subject areas

The humanities and anthropology, primatology, evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. Victorian literature, in particular the Victorian psychological novel. Contemporary literature and scientific ideas. Dystopias. Current Research Projects: An anthropological study of the role of the humanities.


In 2021 I received a Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence as well as receiving a CUSU Student-Led Teaching Award for Outstanding Student Support by a Member of Academic Staff. In 2019 I received a CUSU Student-Led Commendation for Outstanding Partnership with Students.

PhD (Cambridge 2000); MA Victorian Studies (Birkbeck, London, 1996); BA English & Related Literature (York, 1994)

Links to online publications, articles or other work

David Clifford, ‘A Long Anthropological Perspective on the Humanities’ in Journal of Literature and Science, 10 (2) 2017, 45-54. https://doi.org/10.12929/jls.10.2.06

‘Wilde and Evolution’ in Oscar Wilde in Context (ed. by Kerry Powell and Peter Raby), Cambridge University Press 2013. ISBN 9781107016132.

David Clifford, Elisabeth Wadge, Alex Warwick, Martin Willis (eds), Repositioning Victorian Sciences, Anthem Press, 2006. ISBN 1843312123.

David Clifford ‘Re-Imagining Heaven: Victorian Lunar Studies’ in Repositioning Victorian Sciences, 171-82.

David Clifford, Literature and Science 1660-1834 Vol 5: Fauna (General Editor Judith Hawley), Pickering & Chatto, 2004. ISBN 1851967400.

David Clifford and Laurence Roussillon (eds), Outsiders Looking In: The Rossettis, Then and Now, Anthem Press, 2004. ISBN 1843311062.