School of English


BA, Sydney; MA, Royal Holloway; PhD, Queen Mary, London

To date, my research has concentrated primarily on Victorian poetry and critical prose; aestheticism, decadence, and the culture of fin-de-siècle; and the interrelations between literature, religion, and secularism in the long nineteenth century. My first book, A. C. Swinburne and Walter Pater: Victorian Aestheticism, Doubt, and Secularisation (Legenda, 2015) examined the relationship between the emergence of literary aestheticism and arguments over the meaning of religious doubt and secularisation in late Victorian England.

My current project is a study of how late nineteenth- and early twentieth century novelists conceptualised and represented human intelligence, particularly in the context of the bildungsroman and in relation to modern efforts to render intelligence measureable in the interests of a meritocratic ideal. This project will focus on Thomas Hardy, George Gissing, Sarah Grand, Henry James, and H. G. Wells, among other figures.

I am currently the PI on the AHRC-funded project, 'Literary Culture, Meritocracy and the Assessment of Intelligence in Britain and America, 1880-1920'. For more information, please visit the project website.

Contact Information


School of English, Rutherford W4.E6

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Lyons, S. (2016). Algernon Swinburne and Walter Pater: Victorian Aestheticism, Doubt, and Secularisation. [Online]. Legenda. Available at:
Book section
Lyons, S. (2017). Secularism and Secularisation at the Fin de Siecle. In: Guy, J. ed. Edinburgh Companion to Fin De Siecle Literature, Culture, and the Arts. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Lyons, S. (2013). Parleying with Robert Browning: Swinburne's Aestheticism, Blasphemy, and the Dramatic Monologue. In: Maxwell, C. and Evangelista, S. eds. Algernon Charles Swinburne: Unofficial Laureate. Manchester: Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Lyons, S. (2012). 'Let Your Life on Earth Be Life Indeed': Aestheticism and Secularism in Mathilde Blind's The Prophecy of St. Oran and 'On a Torso of Cupid'. In: Writing Women of the Fin De Siecle: Authors of Change. Palgrave Macmillan. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2018). Recent work in Victorian studies and the bildungsroman. Literature Compass [Online] 15. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2017). 'You Must Be as Clever as We Think You': Assessing Intelligence in Henry James's The Tragic Muse. Modern Philology [Online] 115:105-130. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2014). The Disenchantment/Re-enchantment of the World: Aesthetics, Secularisation, and the Gods of Greece from Friedrich Schiller to Walter Pater. Modern Language Review [Online] 109:873-895. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2012). 'Neither for God nor for His Enemies': Heresy and Disinterestedness in Walter Pater's 'Botticelli'. Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism:5-25.
Lyons, S. (2019). Book Review. Modern Philology [Online] 116:E272-E275. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2016). On Heroines, Heroine-Worship, and the Heroine in Feminism. Women: A Cultural Review [Online] 26:462-471. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2015). Year's Work: Swinburne. Victorian Poetry [Online] 53:336-339. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2013). Review of '1895: Drama, Disaster and Disgrace in Late Victorian Britain', by Nicholas Freeman. Victoriographies [Online]:110-112. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2013). Review of 'Victorian Poets and the Changing Bible' by Charles LaPorte. Modern Language Review [Online] 108:290-291. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2012). Review of 'The Rhetorical Use of Provocation as a Means of Persuasion in the Writings of Walter Pater, English Essayist and Cultural Critic: Pater as Controversialist', by John Coates. Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism:80-83.
Lyons, S. (2011). Review of T'ext, Body and Indeterminacy: Doppelgänger Selves in Pater and Wilde', by Anna Budziak. Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism:77-81.
Lyons, S. (2011). Review of The Medusa Effect: Representation and Epistemology in Victorian Aesthetics by Thomas Albrecht. Studies in Walter Pater and Aestheticism:90-93.
Lyons, S. (2011). Aestheticism and Hellenism. Women: A Cultural Review [Online]:270-273. Available at:
Lyons, S. (2018). Thomas Hardy and the Value of Brains. Victorian Literature and Culture.
Total publications in KAR: 18 [See all in KAR]
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School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NX

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 823054

Last Updated: 15/09/2018