Ellen Burton Harrington

Harrington Headshot

Ellen Burton Harrington | Professor and Chair

Specializes in British Victorian literature, detective and sensation fiction, and 19th century gender and colonial contexts.

HUMB 243  |  460-6146  |  eharrington@southalabama.edu

Conrad's Sensational Heroines CoverConrad's Sensational Heroines: Gender and Representation in the Late Fiction of Joseph Conrad. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

This volume considers Joseph Conrad’s use of multiple genres, including allusions to sensation fiction, pornography, anthropology, and Darwinian science, to respond to Victorian representations of gender in layered and contradictory representations of his own. In his stories and later novels, the familiar writer of sea stories centered on men moves to consider the plight of women and the challenges of renegotiating gender roles in the context of the early twentieth century. Conrad’s rich and conflicted consideration of subjectivity and alienation extends to some of his women characters, and his complex use of genre allows him both to prompt and to subvert readers’ expectations of popular forms, which typically offer recognizable formulas for gender roles. He frames his critique through familiar sensationalized typologies of women that are demonstrated in his fiction: the violent mother, the murderess, the female suicide, the fallen woman, the adulteress, and the traumatic victim. Considering these figures through the roles and the taxonomies that they simultaneously embody and disrupt, this study exposes internalized patriarchal expectations that Conrad presents as both illegitimate and inescapable.

Books Edited

  • Scribbling Women and the Form of the Short Story: Approaches to American and British Short Fiction by Women Writers, a critical anthology of fourteen essays focusing on women American and British short fiction writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Lang, 2008.

Edited Special Issue

  • GoGwilt, Christopher, Ellen Burton Harrington, and Nidesh Lawtoo, eds. and intro. "Conradian Crosscurrents," Conradiana, 48.2/3 (2020 for 2016): 111-310.


  • "Witnessing the Remains in Zola's Thérèse Raquin and Conrad's The Secret Agent." Conradiana, 50.2 (2021 for 2018): 143-58.
  • "Aïssa’s Curse in An Outcast of the Islands." The Conradian, 45.2 (2020): 54-61.
  • Harrington, Ellen Burton and John G. Peters. "Conrad, Lombroso, and Animals." The Conradian, 44.2 (2019): 19-36.
  • "The Rise of the American Woman Detective: Gender and the Detective Genre in Anna Katharine Green, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mary Roberts Rinehart." A History of American Crime Fiction. Ed. Christopher Raczkowski. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2017. 123-35.
  • "The Case of Mrs Schomberg in Victory." The Conradian: The Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (UK) 40.2 (Autumn 2015): 15-24.
  • "'Dead men have no children' in Conrad's 'The Idiots' and 'Amy Foster.'" Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 43:2-3 (published 2014 for 2011): 93-104.
  • "Suicide, Feminism, and 'the miserable dependence of girls' in 'The Idiots,' The Secret Agent, and Chance.The Conradian: The Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (UK) 37.2 (2012): 50-66.
  • "Terror, Nostalgia, and the Pursuit of Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock." The Transmedia Adventures of Sherlock. Eds. Kristina Busse and Louisa Stein. McFarland, 2012. 70-84.
  • "The 'test of feminine investigation' in Orczy's Lady Molly of Scotland Yard Stories." CLUES: A Journal of Detection 26.4 (2009): 24-34.
  • "Nation, Identity, and the Fascination with Forensic Science in Sherlock Holmes and CSI." International Journal of Cultural Studies 10.3 (2007): 365-82.
  • "The Female Offender, the New Woman, and Winnie Verloc in Conrad's The Secret Agent." The Conradian: The Journal of the Joseph Conrad Society (UK) 32.1 (2007).  Simultaneously published in The Secret Agent: Centennial Essay. Eds. A. H. Simmons & J. H. Stape Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2007.
  • "From the Lady and the Law to the Lady Detective: Gender and Voice in Collins and Dickens." Storytelling: A Critical Journal of Popular Narrative 6.1 (2006): 19-31.
  • "Failed Detectives and Dangerous Females: Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle and the Detective Short Story." Journal of the Short Story in English 45 (2005): 13-28.
  • "The Anarchist's Wife: Joseph Conrad's Debt to Sensation Fiction in The Secret Agent." Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 36.1-2 (2004): 51-63.
  • "That 'Blood-Stained Inanity': Detection, Repression, and Conrad's The Secret Agent." Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 31:2 (1999): 114-19.

Reviews and Other Writing

  • Book Review of Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent. Ed. Tanya Agathocleous (Broadview). Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 44.2-3 (2014 for 2012): 254-55.
  • Book Review of Homosexuality in the Life and Work of Joseph Conrad: Love Between the Lines. Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 42.1-2 (2010): 171-77.
  • Book Review of Modernism, Media, and Propaganda: British Narrative from 1900 to 1945. Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 42.1-2 (2010): 184-87.
  • Joseph Conrad's "Amy Foster." Companion to the British Short Story and Short Fiction. Ed. Andrew Maunder. New York: Facts on File, 2007.
  • Book Review of Imperial Desire: Dissident Sexualities and Colonial Literature and Conrad's Narratives of Difference: Not Exactly Tales for Boys. Conradiana: A Journal of Joseph Conrad Studies 36.3 (2004): (251) 61.
  • "Shirley Ann Grau." Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Short Story Writers Since World War II. Eds. Patrick Meanor and Gwen Crane. Second Series. Detroit: Gale, 2000. 173-79.