Professor Vike Martina Plock
Head of Department
Office: Queens 215
Professor Plock is the author of three academic monographs: Joyce, Medicine and Modernity (2010; paperback 2012), Modernism, Fashion and Interwar Women Writers (2017; paperback 2019) and The BBC German Service during the Second World War: Broadcasting to the Enemy (Palgrave, 2021). She has edited four journal issues and written numerous articles and book chapters on Elizabeth Bowen, James Joyce, Rosamond Lehmann, Erika Mann, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf. She is co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Literature & History and an advisory editor of the James Joyce Quarterly. Her reserach has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust as well as several research library fellowships.
Her research interests include:
- international modernism
- James Joyce
- Sylvia Townsend Warner
- Elizabeth Bowen
- Edith Wharton
- literature, science, and medicine
- literature, fashion, and consumer culture
- interwar women's writing
- twentieth-century media and publishing history
- Anglo-German and German-American Studies
Professor Plock is currently working on a new resarch project on modernist writers as Penguin Books authors. A first article on Penguin paperback editions of Virginia Woolf's work has just been published in Book History.
Professor Plock's research focuses on literary modernism and the cultural history of modernity. She has published widely on James Joyce's lifelong interest in medicine and science. Her first monograph Joyce, Medicine, and Modernity was published in 2010 by the University Press of Florida (paperback, 2012) and she has edited two special issues of the journal James Joyce Quarterly.
Her second major research project took a slightly different approach to the study of literary modernism. Her multi-author monograph, Modernism, Fashion and Interwar Women Writers, examined the role that fashion played in the works of early twentieth-century women novelists such as Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Elizabeth Bowen and Rosamond Lehmann. In this book she argues that these women writers used sartorial tropes to self-consciously comment on their involvement with the literary marketplace of the interwar period. Engaging with the sartorial fashions of their time, Modernism, Fashion and Interwar Women Writers argues, allowed different women writers to respond, at times critically, to market forces and to engage with the literary fashions of their time. A detailed review of the book has been published in Woolf Studies Annual (2018).
Professor Plock's third monograph The BBC German Service during the Second World War: Broadcasting to the Enemy, for which she was awarded a sixteen-month research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust in March 2017, tells the story of the people responsible for delivering the propaganda programmes that went out on BBC airwaves to listeners in Nazi Germany. Who were the individuals behind the microphone, whose names could only be mentioned in whispered conversations on the continent? Who wrote the news programmes, the features and satires that offered comic relief to housewives struggling to obtain enough food to feed their families? Who made decisions about programme delivery and staffing? Drawing extensively on previously unexplored archival sources, her book sheds light on the difficult working conditions in the BBC German Service in war-time London. Here, in the BBC's recording studios people from different nationalities, social backgrounds and political convictions collaborated and argued about the delivery of an effective propaganda programme that could assist the Allies in defeating the Nazis. By making many of the stories of these individuals available for the first time, The BBC German Service during the Second World War: Broadcasting to the Enemy offers a fascinating new picture of the wartime BBC. An article on Erika Mann's work at the BBC German Service was published in modernism/modernity in January 2020.
Professor Plock has also developed a strong interest in the neglected modernist writer Sylvia Townsend Warner. Already in print is Professor Plock's co-edited journal issue on STW that was published by Literature Compass in 2014.
She is currently beginning work on her next major reserach project: a history of modernist authors and intellectuals such as Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Mann and Sigmund Freud whose books were re-printeded as cheap paperbacks by Penguin Books.
Professor Plock's articles have appeared in Book History, Modern Fiction Studies, Modernism/Modernity, Journal of Modern Literature, Literature & History, James Joyce Quarterly, Joyce Studies Annual, and Literature Compass.
From June 2013 to September 2014 Professor Plock was Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded research network Tailored Trades: Clothes, Labour and Professional Communities, 1880-1939. Network events included adacemic workshops at Northumbria University and the University of Exeter, public lectures at the Bishopsgate Institute in London, exhibitions in the People's History Museum in Manchester and a concluding network conference "Clothes, Working Lives and Social Change (1880-1939)" in 2014.
A recording of Professor Plock's public lecture on Jack London, Slum Tourism and the East End Sweated Industries that she gave in the Bishopsgate Institute in May 2014 can be found on the Tailored Trades network website.
Professor Plock welcomes enquiries from research students with interests in James Joyce, literary modernism, women's writing of the interwar period (especially Elizabeth Bowen and Sylvia Townsend Warner), middlebrow literature and culture, and literature and science.
Current Research Students:
Jo Barlow, "The Darkness of David Hunter: Domestic Noir in Agatha Christie's Taken at the Flood" (Joint Supervisor)
Ina Skaer Beeston, "The Self in German Family History" (Second Supervisor)
Mary Anna Evans, "Agatha Christie, Witness to the Evolution: Women, Justice, Crime Fiction and the Twentieth Century" (Joint Supervisor)
Jean Harris, "Interwar Women Writers and the Virago Imprint" (First Supervisor)
Lauren Huggett, "Disrupted Memory and the Restoration of the Normal: Daphne du Maurier and the Cold War, 1949-1960" (Second Supervisor)
Antonio Spaccapietra, "Rome--The Eternal City: Modernity and Antiquity in Joyce's Ulysses" (First Supervisor)
Margaret Webb, "Unmasking the Gothic in James Joyce's Modernist Novels" (First Supervisor)
Frederic Worthington, "Selling Britain: The BBC German Service in the Post-War Period" (AHRC) (First Supervisor)
Past Research Students:
James Bernthal, "Queering the Outcast in Agatha Christie" (AHRC) (First Supervisor) (2011-15)
Rinni Haji Amran, "Modernist Literature and Aviation" (First Supervisor) (2011-15)
Demet Karabulut Dede, "Modernism Literature and Time-Space Compression" (TUEBITAK, Turkey) (Research Mentor) (2020-21)
Elizabeth Micakovic, "T. S. Eliot's Voice" (AHRC) (First Supervisor) (2011-13)
Jake O'Leary, "Modernist Women Writers and Antifascism" (AHRC) (Second Supervisor) (2016-20)
Teresa Sanders, "Sylvia Townsend Warner and Education" (AHRC) (First Supervisor) (2016-20)
Jack Sargent, "Desiring Long-Term Intimacy in Victorian to Twenty-First Century British and American Homosexual Literature" (Second Supervisor) (2015-20)
Leonie Thomas, "Wireless Women: Listening in to Forgotten Voices at the BBC, 1922-1955" (AHRC) (First Supervisor) (2015-19)
External impact and engagement
Professor Plock's AHRC-funded research network Tailored Trades: Clothes, Labour and Professional Communities, 1880-1939 included public lectures and school study days at the Bishopsgate Institute in London and the People's History Museum in Manchester. A detailed description of these activities can be found on the project website.
Contribution to discipline
To date Professor Plock has been peer-reviewing for PMLA, James Joyce Quarterly, Literature Compass, Modernism/Modernity, Modernist Cultures, Journal of Design History, Open Library of the Humanities, Textual Practice, Women: A Cultural Reivew, Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas, Edinburgh University Press, Liverpool University Press, Ohio State University Press, Oxford University Press, Routledge, UCD Press and University Press of Florida.
From 2011-2014 she was a member of the executive committee of the British Society for Literature and Science and in July 2015 Professor Plock was elected as Membership Secretary of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society.
She was a member of the academic organising committee of the 25th International James Joyce Symposium "Anniversary Joyce" that took place in London in June 2016.
Professor Plock is a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.
Professor Plock's research on the BBC German Service has attracted interest from the following newspapers, broadcasters and information providers:
The BBC History Research Blog featured a detailed project description on its website in October 2018 and on 17 April 2017 she spoke on the BBC World Service about her research.
Different aspects of her research have also been discussed in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Times. In 2019 the Leverhulme Trust Newsletter (pp. 10-11) included an article about the project.
She was interviewed for the BBC Archive on 4 production Beating Hitler with Humour that was broadcast on 31 August 2019 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War. She also spoke on BBC Radio Devon on 15 November 2021 about differnt aspects of her research on the BBC German Service.
She has also advised on and was quoted in a BBC Culture article "Death on the Nile and Addressing Racism in Agatha Christie" (February 2022).
After completing her doctoral dissertation on James Joyce and medicine at the University of York in 2005, Professor Plock held temporary lectureships at Durham University (2006), University College Dublin (2006-2007), Cardiff University (2007-2009), and a permanent lectureship at Northumbria University (2009-2010) before joining the Department of English at Exeter in September 2010. In January 2022, she became Head of Department for English and Creative Writing at Exeter.
She was the recipient of a Fleur Cowles Endowment Fellowship from the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin in 2010 and 2014 and of the Donald C. Gallop Fellowship in American Literature from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in 2011. She was awarded a Friends of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation Scholarship in 2005 and 2009. She lives in Devon with her husband and son.