Royce Mahawatte
© Royce Mahawatte

Dr. Royce Mahawatte

Fellow at the BCDSS, University of Bonn
Niebuhrstr. 5
53113 Bonn
Personal website22

Current Position

Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London

Academic Profile

Victorian Fiction and Culture, the Gothic, Decolonial Approaches to the Fashioned Body, Contemporary Queer Embodiment and Representation

Research Project

The Colonial Biopolitics of Fashion Medias and the Nineteenth-Century Male Body 1828–1850

The research project explores how narratives of colonialism and broader dependencies that find their way into fashion writing of this period. Nineteenth-century fashion culture changed the way the male body was conceptualized and categorized and this shaped the configuration of the body as a neoclassical ideal. I am interested in how forms of fashion media in this period try to guide the reader not just away from, but also alongside, the narratives of slavery, dependency and imperialism that they are rooted in. My project is fundamentally decolonial.

I will look into asymmetrical dynamics of a broad range of "medias": literary, journalistic, and medical texts, as well as travelogues. In all of these works, the fashioned body and the asymmetrically dependent body (modern or classical) looks on from the side lines. I will develop a theoretical praxis which draws from literary studies, Critical Race Theory and social theory in order to examine nineteenth-century discourses of embodiment. The work will form a part of my second monograph project on the nineteenth-century male body and its geo and biopolitical location. I have discovered in my research and in my teaching practice that it is impossible to discussion fashion without discussing forms of enforced labour and colonial expansion.


  • 2000                          Ph.D. phil, Faculty of English Literature and Language, Trinity College, University of Oxford, UK
                                       Thesis: "Half womanish, half ghostly": The Gothic and Sensation Narrative in the Novels of George Eliot
  • 1996                          MSt., Faculty of English Literature and Language, Trinity College, University of Oxford, UK
                                       English Literature (Distinction)
  • 2004                          M.A., University of East Anglia, UK
                                       Creative Writing – Prose Stream (Distinction)
  • 1994                          M.A., King's College, University of London, UK 
                                       Victorian Studies (Distinction)
  • 1993                          B.A., King's College, University of London, UK 
                                       English Literature and Language (First Class Honours)

Academic Positions

  • 2016–present          Senior Lecturer, Cultural Studies, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts, London,
  • 2014–present          Faculty Member, New York University, London, UK
  • 2018–2019              Research Fellow, Morphomata Centre, University of Cologne, Germany
  • 2012–2016              Lecturer, Cultural Studies, Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts, London, UK
  • 2005–2011              Associate Lecturer, Cultural and Historical Studies, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts, London, UK
  • 1997–2000              Sessional English Tutor, St Peter's College, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, UK

Additional Academic Activities and Memberships

Book Series Editorial Board

  • Key Popular Women Writers (Everitt Root Publishers)
  • New Paths in Victorian Fiction and Culture (Everitt Root Publishers)
  • Palgrave Studies of Fashion and the Body (Palgrave, Springer/Macmillan)

Journal Editorships

Selected Publications

  • The Literature of Embodiment: Nineteenth-Century Writing, The Male Body and the Biopolitics of Fashion. Working title.
    George Eliot and the Gothic Novel. University of Wales Press, 2013.
  • Dangerous Bodies: New Global Perspectives on Fashion and Transgression Palgrave Studies in Fashion and the Body. Co-editing with Jacki Willson, Centre of Performance Studies, University of Leeds.
  • The Dandy Novel as Fashion Text: Edward Bulwer Lytton's Pelham (1828) and Fashion Editorial. In: Fashion and Material Culture in Victorian Fiction and Periodicals: New Paths in Victorian Fiction and Culture Series. London: Edward Everett Root Publishers, 2018.
  • The Sad Fortunes of 'Stylish Things': George Eliot and the Languages of Fashion. In: A. V. Pierson-Smith, J. Hancock (eds.): Communicating Transcultural Fashion Narratives. Image, Identity, Ideology edited by Karaminas. Intellect Press: Bristol, 2018.
  • Fashion and Adornment. In: A Cultural History of Hair in the Modern Age. Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.
  • Victorian Horror. In: X. A. Reyes (ed.) Horror: A Literary History. British Library 2016.
  • Daniel Deronda's Jewish Panic. In: W. Huges, A. Smith (eds.) Queering the Gothic. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009. ISBN: 9780-71907-815-6.
  • Hair and Fashioned Femininity in Two Nineteenth-Century Novels. In: S. Chang, G. Biddle-Perry (eds.): Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion. Oxford: Berg 2008. ISBN: 1-84520-792-0.
  • Loving the Other: Arab Fetish Pornography and the Dark Continent of Masculinity. In: P. Church Gibson (ed.): More Dirty Looks: Gender, Power and Pornography. London: British Film Institute 2004. ISBN 0-85170-939-7.
  • "Life That Is Not Clad in the Same Coat-tails and Flounces”: The Silver Fork Novel, George Eliot and the Fear of the Material. In: T. Wagner (ed.): Women's Writing Special Issue: Silver Fork Novels. August 2009 19 (1), 323–344. ISSN 0969-9082 print/ISSN 1747-5848.
  • Beautiful Lips Kissing Holy Skulls and Other Emptinesses Ecclesiastically Enshrined. The Counterfeit Gothic Heroine in Middlemarch. In: Gothic Studies. Nov 2008 10(2): 121–136. ISSN 1362-7937
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