An Interview with Jo McDonagh

by Rae Yan and Michele Robinson
Produced by Ben Murphy
27 May 2015

Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Drawing by Benjamin Holl, National Library of Australia

Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Drawing by Benjamin Holl, National Library of Australia

In this podcast, UNC doctoral students Rae Yan and Michele Robinson speak with Jo McDonagh, professor of English at King’s College London. Currently Jo holds the Kent R. Mullikin Fellowship at the National Humanities Center in Durham, NC, and her ongoing research considers the culture and literature of migration and mobility in 19th-century Britain. After explaining the genealogy of her interest in migrationwhich routes through Thomas Malthus as well as Henri Lefebvre’s “production of space”Jo turns to a historical figure who is central in her new project, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. As Jo describes, Wakefield advocated for what he named “systematic colonization,” a program of emigration for working class people that was nevertheless riddled by a compromised promise of freedom. In addition to elucidating his theories and personal foibles, Jo links Wakefield with larger concerns about globalization and the idea of the local, which in turn brings her to the question of technologya question that, for Jo, is essentially about print technologies. This conversation ends with a few thoughts about the value and ubiquity of interdisciplinary work.



Click here to download the interview.


Josephine McDonagh is a professor of 19th-century literature at King’s College London. She has written monographs on Thomas De Quincey (​De Quincey’s Disciplines [1994]), George Eliot (George Eliot [1997]), and on the topic of child murder in British culture in the 18th and 19th centuries (Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900 ​ [2003]). Jo has also co-edited several essay volumes on topics including gender politics, literature and science, and Charles Dickens. Jo’s time as a 2014-2015 fellow at the National Humanities Center has allowed her to develop her work on the literature and culture of migration. 

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