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Rachel Friars


Rachel M. Friars is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her current work centers on neo-Victorianism and nineteenth-century lesbian literature and history, with secondary research interests in life writing, historical fiction, true crime, and the Gothic. Her work on lesbian historical fiction has been published with Palgrave Macmillan, The Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies, Lexington Books, Crime Studies Journal, and Queer Studies in Media and Popular Culture, and is forthcoming with The Journal of Lesbian Studies.

Research Interests

Neo-Victorianism, Victorianism, Lesbian literature and history

Selected Publications


[Forthcoming] Friars, Rachel M. "Narrative Agency in the neo-Victorian Lesbian Novel." The Palgrave Handbook of neo-Victorian Studies. Edited by Sarah E. Maier and Brenda Ayres, Palgrave Macmillan, 2023. 

[Forthcoming] Maier, Sarah E. and Rachel M. Friars. "Loving Gentleman Jack: Biofictional Performances of Lister's Women Wooed and Wed." The Journal of Lesbian Studies special issue: Gentleman Jack: The (Re)Discovery of Anne Lister. 2022. 

Friars, Rachel M. "'The curiosity with which that fist moves': Lesbian Erotics in Sarah Waters's Tipping the Velvet and Emma      Donoghue's Frog Music." Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, vol. 6, no. 3, 2022. 

Friars, Rachel M. and Jesyka Traynor. “‘Dogged, Insightful, and Humane’: Writing Women’s Lives in Twenty-First-Century True Crime.” Crime Fiction Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, 2022, Edinburgh University Press.

Maier, Sarah E. and Rachel M. Friars. “Mashing it Up: Recasting Power in the (Neo-)Victorian Penny Dreadful.” Gothic Mash-Ups: Hybridity, Appropriation, and Intertextuality in Gothic Storytelling. Edited by Natalie Neill. Lexington Books, 2021.

Maier, Sarah E., and Rachel M. Friars. “Stoically Sapphic: Gentlemanly Encryption and Disruptive Legibility in Adapting Anne Lister.” The Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, 2020, pp. 125-152.

Friars, Rachel M., and Brenda Ayres. “‘We should go mad’: The Madwoman and her Nurse.” Neo-Victorian Madness: Revising Nineteenth-Century Mental Illness in Literature, Television, and Film. Edited by Brenda Ayres and Sarah E. Maier, Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, pp. 49-72.

Awards and Recognition
SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, 2021 – 2024
Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Queen’s University, 2020 – 2021
Arthur B. McDonald Prize for Academic Excellence, Queen’s University, 2019 – 2020
Dean’s Award for Social Justice, Queen’s University, 2019 – 2020
Graduate Supervision

Dissertation Title: An exclusively female ensemble: Neo-Victorian lesbian media and nineteenth-century queer narratives.

My doctoral dissertation will analyze the ways in which neo-Victorian lesbian media chronicles silences and misconceptions in the Victorian era regarding female homosexuality in literature and film from the last thirty years. I intend to explore the ambition behind creating art objects that place lesbian women in Victorian settings.

Additional Information

Current Positions: 

2022/01 – Present       Founder/President, Queer Studies Association of Canada

2021/01 – Present       Associate Editor/Social Media Manager, PopMec Academic Association

2020/10 – Present       Co-Editor-in-Chief, The Lamp

2020/08 – Present       Co-Editor-in-Chief, True Crime Index

2020/08 – Present       Freelance Writer, The Lesbrary

Select Conference Presentations: 

[Proposed] Presenter. “‘Induced by the demon’s lips’: Vampiric Orality and the Lesbian Mouth in Le Fanu’s Carmilla.” My Wild Heart Bleeds: 150 Years of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, Romancing the Gothic, (09/2022).

[Forthcoming] Presenter. “A cruelty of nature”: American Landscape and the Lesbian Gothic.” ACCUTE (2022/05).

[Forthcoming] Presenter. “‘Pulled into elsewhere, or perhaps nowhere’: Erotohistoriography and the Lesbian Gothic.” ACCUTE. (2022/05).

Presenter. “‘A real queer fish’: Erotic Consumption in Sarah Waters’s Tipping the Velvet and Emma Donoghue’s Frog Music.” Outsiders: Making Space at the Queer Intersections of Sex and Gender Conference. University of Brighton, (2022/04).

Presenter. “‘I say you do not have a name’: Queering Dracula’s Brides in S.T. Gibson’s A Dowry of Blood.” Gothic Trajectories Conference, The Gothic Association of New Zealand and Australia, (2022/01).

Presenter. “‘A kindling, a fascination, a yearning’: Female Friendship, Marriage, and Queer Communities in Biofictions by Emma Donoghue.” The Historical Fictions Research Network Conference, (2022/2).

Presenter. “‘History digs a shallow grave’: Temporal Boundaries in the neo-Victorian Lesbian Gothic in Emily M. Danfoth’s Plain Bad Heroines.” Queer Temporalities Conference, University of Murcia, Spain. (2021/12).

Presenter. “‘You’re not the stuff of a chapter’: Queer Life and Women’s Activism in Biofictions by Emma Donoghue.” The Neo-Victorian and the Late-Victorian: Texts, Media, Politics, The University of Brighton, United Kingdom. (2021/09).

Panel Organizer/Panel Chair. “‘Speaking of my oddity’: Inclusive Spaces in Nineteenth-Century Women’s Life Writing.” Victorian Popular Fiction Association Annual Conference. (2021/07).

  • “‘I shall always by thy own servant wife’: Filth, Class, and Sexuality in Hannah Cullwick’s Diaries” by Emma McTavish
  • "Michael Field’s Queer Collaboration in Works and Days" by Brooke Cameron

Presenter. “‘The curiosity with which that fist moves”: Lesbian Vaginal Fisting in the Novels of Emma Donoghue and Sarah Waters.” ACCUTE. (2021/05).

Presenter. “‘I never knew that there were girls like her’: Locating the (neo)Victorian Lesbian.” Special Topics Presentation. Queen’s University Department of English Language and Literature, (2021/05).

Keynote Speaker. “‘Like a lovely corpse’: The Zombic Fallen Woman in Victorian Art and Literature.” Keynote Address. Carroll University, Waukesha, Wisconsin, (2021/04).

Presenter. “White snakes of sea-foam”: Coastal Boundaries and Lesbian Spectrality in Emily M. Danforth’s Plain Bad Heroines.” Haunted Shores: Coastlands, Coastal Waters and the Littoral Gothic, Symposium, (2021/03).

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.