Declan Kavanagh is a Senior Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century Studies with research interests in the literary history of sexuality, Eighteenth-century British literature and culture, masculinity, disability studies, Irish literature, and representations of Western queer cultures.
Declan completed his PhD at Maynooth University, Ireland, where he was the grateful recipient of a John and Pat Hume Scholarship and an Irish Research Council doctoral award. He was Director of the Centre for Gender, Sexuality, and Writing at the University of Kent and was co-chair of the American Society for 18th-Century Studies Lesbian and Gay Studies Caucus from 2016 to 2018. Since January 2020, Declan is also a committee member and the Diversity and Accessibility Officer for BSECS: the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
He is the author of Effeminate Years: Literature, Politics, and Aesthetics in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Britain (Bucknell University Press, 2017).
Effeminate Years skillfully traces the development of modern ideas of masculinity and the political subject back to the mid-eighteenth-century period in Britain to show how the emergence of political agency in Western modernity was shaped by anti-effeminate ideas and beliefs. This monograph is the first to consider how the discourse of effeminacy took shape across the domains of eighteenth-century political life, literary culture, and the aesthetic. It draws upon a vast range of sources, including Charles Churchill’s poetry, John Wilkes's satire, essay sheets by Tobias Smollett and Arthur Murphy, and Edmund Burke's early writings on aesthetics and politics.
His next monograph project explores the connections between the reading of literature and conceptions of sexual health in the Age of Enlightenment in Britain and Ireland.
He is interested in supervising doctoral projects on queer histories and cultures, eighteenth-century British and Irish literature and culture, and literature and masculinity.