I love to think about literature in a historicized way that criss-crosses genres and even disciplines. My research concentrates on making connections among literature, music and other Victorian discourses including those of liberalism, the "social" sphere, gender, class, evolutionary biology, mesmerism, multiple consciousness, group management, and theories of memory and identity. The result is a sense of 19th-century British fictional and non-fictional prose, poetry, and life writing as partaking in a richly interactive intellectual and cultural history. I enjoy teaching and supervising these genres and topics at the undergraduate and graduate levels, focusing on literary content as well as innovations in style and technique.
My current projects include a monograph, Mary Gladstone and the Victorian Salon, 1876-1883: Music, Literature, Liberalism, which focuses on Prime Minister Gladstone's daughter and her circle in order to reveal how Mary Gladstone acted as a leader in the musical community and in literature. In the process, she assisted political aspects of her father's work. This study sheds new light on Tennyson's poetry, the founding of the Royal College of Music, Edward Burne-Jones's painting, and a broad plane of British culture generally, including political liberalism and women, sociability, musical diplomacy, and aesthetic democracy. This intellectual history accesses a trove of unpublished material, which has led me into an even more heavily archival approach than in the past, combined with my usual close-reading of canonical and non-canonical texts. Ewan Jones and I are also working on a co-authored monograph, One Music: The Tennysons' Performance of Family Life. Along with Katharine Ellis, I recently finished editing an essay collection, Words and Notes in the Long Nineteenth Century (Boydell & Brewer, 2013), which draws together word-music scholarship by musicologists and literary scholars who work on nineteenth-century Britain, France and Germany.
Teaching & Research Interests
Music and 19th-century British Literature; Victorian Literature and Culture (including the context and influence of poetic declamation; liberal politics; identities of class and gender; science and literature); Victorian Poetry; Victorian Life Writing; The English Novel; Alfred Tennyson; George Eliot; Women's Studies
The Musical Crowd in English Fiction, 1840-1910: Class, Culture and Nation. Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture Series. Series editor Joseph Bristow. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. ISBN 14039 9994 5
Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860-1900: Representations of Music, Science and Gender in the Leisured Home. Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain Series. Gen. ed. Bennett Zon. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000. ISBN 07546 0126 9
Words and Notes in the Long Nineteenth Century. Edited and introduced by Phyllis Weliver and Katharine Ellis. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, August 2013. ISBN 9781843838111
Nominated for the Ruth A. Solie Award for outstanding collection of essays, American Musicological Society.
Ewan Jones and Phyllis Weliver. "‘The Princess' and the Tennysons' Constructions of Childhood. " The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music. Ed. Delia da Sousa Correa. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Forthcoming.
"Disciplining the Masses through Tonic Sol-fa, or ‘the science of music'." BRANCH: Britain, Representation, and Nineteenth-Century History. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web. July 2013. 10,000 words.
"Approaches to Word-Music Studies of the Long Nineteenth Century" by Phyllis Weliver and Katharine Ellis. Words and Notes in the Long Nineteenth Century. Eds Phyllis Weliver and Katharine Ellis. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, August 2013.
"The Prima Donna, Amateur Violinist, and Opera Chorus: Music as ‘Event' in Wilkie Collins's Man and Wife." Forum for Modern Language Studies, 48.2, special issue on Opera and the Novel (April 2012): 178-94.
"A Score of Change: Twenty Years of Critical Musicology and Victorian Literature." Literature Compass 8.10 (October 2011): 776-94.
"Wilde, Music, and the ‘Opium-Tainted Cigarette': Disinterested Dandies and Critical Play." Journal of Victorian Culture 15.3 (2010): 315-47.
"George Eliot and the Prima Donna's ‘Script'." The Yearbook of English Studies 40.1-2, themed issue on The Arts in Victorian Literature. Special eds Catherine Maxwell and Stefano Evangelista (June 2010): 103-20.
"Musical Diplomacy and Mary Gladstone's Diary." Victorian Soundscapes Revisited. Eds Martin Hewitt and Rachel Cowgill. Leeds Working Papers in Victorian Studies Volume 9. Leeds: Leeds Trinity & All Saints/Leeds Centre for Victorian Studies and LUCEM, 2007. 161-77.
"Tom-Toms, Dream-Fugues and Poppy-Juice: East Meets West in Nineteenth-Century Fiction." Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s-1940s: Portrayal of the East. Eds Bennett Zon and Martin Clayton. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007. 257-74.
"The ‘silent song' of D.G. Rossetti's The House of Life." The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry. Ed. Phyllis Weliver. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. 195-213.
"Introduction." The Figure of Music in Nineteenth-Century British Poetry. Ed. Phyllis Weliver. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. 1-24.
"Music, Crowd Control and the Female Performer in Trilby." The Idea of Music in Victorian Fiction. Eds Sophie Fuller and Nicky Losseff. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004. 57-80.
"Music and Female Power in Sensation Fiction." Wilkie Collins Society Journal ns 2 (1999): 40-55.
"Music as a Sign in Daniel Deronda." The George Eliot Review 27 (1996): 43-48.
"Musical Diplomacy and Mary Gladstone's Diary." Revised and extended for Music and Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Ed. Paul Rodmell. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012.
Review of John M. Picker, Victorian Soundscapes. Nineteenth-Century Literature 60.2 (Sept 2005): 262-65.
Review of Kevin Korsyn, Decentering Music: A Critique of Contemporary Musical Research. Theory and Practice 29 (2004): 247-51. Three-person review symposium, including Patrick McCreless (Music Theory, Yale University) and Robert Pascall (Musicology, University of Wales, Bangor).
Review of Emma Sutton, Aubrey Beardsley and British Wagnerism in the 1890s. Nineteenth-Century Literature 58.4 (March 2004): 562-66.