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Rachel Fountain Eames

PhD: English Literature

Thesis Title:  The New Physics in Modernist Literature and Culture

Thesis Description:

My thesis interrogates the creative and cultural implications of physics in America during the first half of the 20th century. Examining the emergence of new models of the universe, new conceptions of time and space, physical forces and matter through the discoveries of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, I explore how artists and writers responded to and corresponded with the revolution in physics to generate new forms and means of expression. While William Carlos Williams sought a new form of poetry inspired by Einstein's work, others embraced the philosophical, psychological, and spiritual implications of these new discoveries as they fed into wider Modernist avant-garde cultures. In examining the American modernists, Williams, Mina Loy, and Wallace Stevens, I argue for an interdisciplinary and historicist reading of how culture and science interact. My approach participates in the recent re-positioning of science as a product of cultural and historical influence, and considers the reflexive way in which the fields of art, literature, and science communicate and are communicated. Both physics and modernism are fascinating, but culturally loaded terms whose perceived difficulty often prevents them from reaching a wider audience. I am very interested in breaking down these barriers and opening up my research through public engagement. 


As such, I am particularly interested in ideas of communication, and particularly of popular science communication to the public. My work in partnership with the Education department at Nottingham University and children's broadcaster CBeebies centres on the way in which media representations of gender influence girl's interests in STEM careers. I examine how early-years television is able to shape self-identity in young children, providing role models and imprinting culturally constructed images of gender which continue to influence girls' interests and career choices as they grow up. 


Thesis Supervisors

Professor John Holmes (University of Birmingham)

Dr Will Tattersdill (University of Birmingham)

Dr John Fagg (University of Birmingham)


Girls into STEAM project supervisor

Dr Becky Parry (University of Nottingham)


Academic Publications

Article: '"Trapped in an Atomic Mesh: Transcendent Physics and the Futurist Body in the Work of Mina Loy, The Journal of Literature and Science [Forthcoming 2020]

Review: Modernist Physics: Waves, Particles, and Relativities in the Works of Virginia Woolf and D. H. Lawrence, The British Society for Literature and Science, (March 2019) [open access, online]

Review: The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing, The British Society for Literature and Science, (August 2018) [open access, online] 

Article: 'Geological Katabasis: Geology and the Christian Underworld in Kingsley’s Water Babies', Victoriographies, 7. 3. (November 2017) <>

Review: 'David Edgar: The Poetry of Plays’ for UoBlogfest [online] < >

Creative Writing Publications

'Magnus' , The Tide, 2: Odysseys, ed. Jono Ganz. (2016) [online and print] <>

‘Wishbone’  (2014) in The Journal issue 10. [online] <>

‘Curiosity’   (2011) in Pictures at an Exhibition. University of Birmingham.

Conference Papers

'Snared in an Atomic Mesh’: Modern Physics and the Futurist Body in the Work of Mina Loy, Northern Modernist Seminar, Keele University, October 25 2019.

‘BSLS in the Archives: The Value of Archival Research for Students’, ‘Science in the Archives’, British Society for Literature and Science (BSLS), Winter Symposium 2015, University of Reading.

'Girls Make STEAM: Can children’s media encourage young girls to take up STEAM?', DigiLitEY Annual Meeting 2018, Tallink Hotel, Riga, Latvia.

'Geological Katabasis: Geology and the Christian Underworld in Kingsley’s Water Babies', Strata Conference 2015, University of Birmingham.


Academic Associations and Journals

Member: British Society of Literature and Science (BSLS), British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS), Centre for Modernist Cultures, 19th Century Centre

Founder: Midlands Modernist Network (MMN)

Reviews Editor: 49th Parallel  (2016-2019)

Peer Review Panels: Victorian NetworkThe Wilkie Collins Journal

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

Sep 2017-Present

  • PGTA teaching 'Discovering American Literature'
    • Teacher Training modules: ILT001 (Introduction to Learning and Teaching), ILT003 (Small Group Teaching), ILT004 (Marking & Assessment)
  • 'Girls into STEAM' research project in partnership with University of Nottingham & CBeebies (Sep-Nov 2017)
  • Library Steward, University of Birmingham Library
  • Midlands Modernists Network WIPS (Work In Progress) share and feedback sessions introduced.
  • Organiser: Midlands Modernists' Network Conference: 'Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide' (CFP:
  • Transcriber for the Death Before Birth Project (September 17-)
  • Published 'Geological Katabasis: Geology and the Christian Underworld in Kingsley’s Water Babies', Victoriographies, 7. 3. (November 2017) <>
  • College of Arts & Law PG Student Representative, CAL Postgraduate Researcher Student-Staff Committee. (November 2017-present)
  • Part of the organising committee for M3C Annual Research Festival 2018
  • Lead Funding Applicant for Modernism In Focus Residential CDF Event (taking place March 2018)
    • 'The Science of Modernism' seminar lead
  • Co-applicant for American Studies Work-In-Progress Retreat 2018
  • Month-long funded research trip to the Beinecke Rare Books & Manuscripts Library, New Haven, CT. (January 2018)
  • Lead Funding Applicant and co-organiser for 'Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide' co-funded by M3C, the Centre for Modernist Cultures, and the University of Birmingham's 19th Century Centre
  • Attended M3C 'Powerful Presentations' Training, UoB, 22th March 2018.
  • Nominated for the Michael K. O’Rourke PhD Best Publication Award.
  • Seminar Lead and Organizer, 'The Science of Modernism', Modernism In Focus Residential, 26-29 April.
  • Panel Chair and Organizing Committee, 'Science and Technology'; 'Close Encounters', Transitions: Bridging the Victorian-Modernist Divide. 9-10 Apr 2018.
  • Modernist Podcast 'Collaboration' Minisode, April 2018. (
  • Organizing Committee, 'Modernism in the Home' Conference, Summer 2019.
  • Funded to present at DigiLitEY's 6th Project Meeting, Riga, Latvia, 21-22 June 2018.
  • Attended Centre for Modernist Cultures Monographs and REF training, 2 May 2018.
  • Attended 'Lifting the Lid on Creative Industries 3', Nottingham, 9 May 2018.
  • Attended Royal Literary Fund Stretch Immersive Writing Course, 12 & 19-20 May 2018.
  • 'Ways of Reading' Workshop, Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham, 14 June 2018.
  • Became a Postgraduate Mentor for CAL, University of Birmingham.
  • 'Postdoctoral Research Applications Training', Centre for Modernist Cultures, University of Birmingham, 19 June 2018.
  • Gave conference paper, 'Girls Make Steam: Can children’s media encourage young girls to take up STEAM?', DigiLitEY Annual Meeting 2018, Riga, Latvia, 21-22 June 2018.
  • Seminar Lead: 'Expansion and Recovery in Modernist Studies', Midlands Modernist Network, University of Birmingham, 9 July 2018.


  • Attended BSLS Summer Symposium 2016, University of Birmingham.
  • Peer Review Panel: Victorian Network (
  • Attended BAMS 'New Work In Modernism' Conference 2016, Queen Mary University of London. December 2016.
  • Attended M3C Writing Workshop: 'Academic Writing The Creative Way'. February 2017.
  • Modernist Podcast panel 'Transatlantic Modernism', March 2017. (
  • Co-founder of The Midlands Modernist Network 
    • Host & Co-chair Midlands Modernist Network #1, 27th March 2017
    • Organizer Midlands Modernist Network #2, 5th June 2017
    • Monthly thereafter.
  • 'Category Is: The Queer Aesthetics of Modernism' Panel Chair, 'Queer Modernism(s)' Conference, Nottingham Trent University, April 2017
  • Attended BAMS Postgraduate Training Day 2017 - April 5th 2017
  • Helping co-ordinate PG events for 'Modernist Life', British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS) Conference at University of Birmingham, June 29th - July 1st 2017
  • Attended 'M3C Training Day: The Logic of the Archive', University of Birmingham, April 2017.
  • Attended American Studies Retreat, Hereford, June 2017.
  • Editorial Team for 49th Parallel (
  • 'Talking Heads' CDF Training Event team, July 2017.
  • Peer Review Panel: The Wilkie Collins Journal (

Other Research Interests:

  • Victorian Literature and Science, particularly physics, geology, and natural sciences
  • Modern art avant-gardes, particularly Cubism, Surrealism, Futurism, and Dada
  • Modernism, Metropolis, and configurations of The City
  • The long-nineteenth century, early Modernity (particularly urban culture) and the roots of Modernism
  • Media and television studies, science in culture, gender in education studies








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