I am originally from Athens, Greece and I came to the UK to study English Literature as an undergraduate. I received my MA and DPhil from the University of Sussex where I also taught before joining Brookes in 2011.
My first book, Spiritualism and Women’s Writing (Palgrave, 2009), examined Victorian spiritualism and psychical research in a variety of nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century texts. I have edited a collection of essays on Women and the Victorian Occult (Routledge, 2010) and co-edited The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century Spiritualism and the Occult (Ashgate, 2012). I have also published a volume of primary sources on Anti-Spiritualism for the series Victorian Spiritualism, 1840-1930 (Routledge, 2014).
I am particularly interested in sensation fiction and the ways supernatural occurrences were mediated in such novels that were considered by the Victorians to provoke a particularly immersive reading experience. To this end, I have published chapters on Wilkie Collins and Florence Marryat (this latter a fervent advocate of spiritualism besides her career as a popular and prolific sensation novelist). Marryat’s encounters with her dead children during seances have led to my current project on lost children, psychical research and British psychoanalysis. For this book manuscript, I was awarded a Research Excellence Award from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Another research interest I am pursuing is nineteenth-century material culture. I co-organised a one-day symposium on Victorian Things in 2013 and I have recently completed a multi-volume series on Victorian Material Culture (Routledge, 2022), co-edited with Vicky Mills. For this series I co-edited a volume on Fashionable Things taking as a case-study the middle-class Victorian lady and fashions such as false hair, tiny boots, hair jewellery, mourning-wear and taxidermized hats.
I am also associate investigator of the research project ‘Representations of Greece in Victorian Popular Culture’, funded by the Hellenic Association for Research and Innovation. Alongside colleagues and early-career researchers from the University of Athens, I explore the representation of the modern Greek state in Victorian popular culture, periodicals, ephemera and material culture. I am currently writing on Victorian Greek women artists of the diaspora related to the London-based art collector Constantine Ionides and I have presented papers on this work in webinars and conferences.
I like to bring my research interests into the classroom where possible. Examples of undergraduate modules informed by my book projects are a second-year module on Victorian sensation fiction, a third-year module on the Victorian Supernatural and a postgraduate module on Victorian childhood.
I welcome inquiries from potential MPhil and DPhil candidates on any of these areas of research.
Teaching and supervision
I currently teach the following undergraduate and postgraduate modules:
- Criticism, Culture, Literature 2
- Specialist Option 3: The Victorian Supernatural
- The Victorians and Theatricality: from the stage to the seance
I have also taught and/or convened a broad range of 19th and 20th Century modules including Victorian Texts and Contexts, Aspects of the European Novel, Aspects of European Modernism, Gender in Victorian Literature and Culture.
Kontou T, 'Florence Marryat’s “The Box with the Iron Clamps”: Pent-Up Grief and Guilt'
Victorian Review: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Victorian Studies 44 (2) (2018) pp.170-173
ISSN: 0848-1512 eISSN: 1923-3280Published here
Kontou T, 'Introduction: Women and the Victorian occult'
Women's Writing 15 (3) (2008) pp.275-281
ISSN: 0969-9082 eISSN: 1747-5848Published here
Memberships of professional bodies
- British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS)
- North American Victorian Studies Association (NAVSA)
- Victorian Popular Fiction Association (VPFA)
- The Edith Wharton Society
- 'Victorian Spiritualism: Florence Marryat', Treadwell's Lecture Series, 12 March 2014
- 'Anti-Spiritualism', Ghostwatching: Spiritualism 1840-1930, University of Portsmouth, 31 January 2014
- 'Double consciousness, Clairvoyance and Posthumous Narration in George Eliot's The Lifted Veil', National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 4 April 2012 and 2013.
- 'The Case of Florence Marryat: Custodian of the Spirit World/Popular Novelist', Director's Lunchtime Seminar Series, Senate House, 21 March 2012
- 'The Case of Florence Marryat: Custodian of the Spirit World/Popular Novelist', History and English Research Seminar Series, University of Exeter, 29 February 2012
- 'My Spirit Child and The Story of John Powles', Victorian Studies Reading Group, University of York, 3 February 2012
- 'Mother! I am Florence': Re-uniting with spirit children in Florence Marryat's There is No Death, Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Culture Forum, Brasenose, University of Oxford, 27 January 2012
- 'Writing Life after Death: Florence Marryat's spiritualist memoirs', English and Modern Languages Research Seminar Series, Oxford Brookes University, November 18 2011
- 'Ekphrastic Jewellery in Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone', The Wilkie Collins Society Journal Launch, University of Reading, 14 November 2011
- ‘Florence Marryat, 1865’, Florence Marryat Study Day part of the Victorian Popular Fiction Association. Institute of English Studies, University of London, 13 November 2010
- ‘A Mind of Iron and Heart of Wool: Marryat and the literary career’, Victorian Popular Culture: Prose, Stage & Screen, Institute for English Studies, University of London, 22-24 July 2010
- ‘Disorderly archives: Florence Marryat’s There is No Death and the haunting past’, Paranormal Cultures, University of Sussex, 4 June 2010
- ‘Experimenting with spirits in Florence Marryat’s The Strange Transfiguration of Hannah Stubbs’, Keynote Speech, Transitions, University of Sussex Postgraduate Conference, 11 June 2009
- ‘Spirit photographs and neo-Victorian Ghosts: Florence Cook’s mediumship and textual manifestations’, AHRC Beyond Text Workshops:‘Spiritualism and Technology in Historical and Contemporary Contexts’, University of Westminster, 29 May 2009
- ‘My Spirit Child and my daughter the actress: Florence Marryat’s maternal connections’, Bodies and Things: Victorian Literature and the Matter of Culture, University of Oxford, 27 September 2008
- ‘Miss Florence Cook’s Mediumship: Historical Fragments/Phantasmal Texts’, Victorianism: The Politics and Aesthetics of Appropriation, University of Exeter, 10-12 September 2007
- ‘Spirited Away: In Search of Florence Marryat’, Victorian Literature: The Canon and Beyond, University of Chester, 2 June 2007
- ‘Florence Marryat’s Spiritualist Writings’, Suitable for the Boudoir and the Circulating Library: Marie Corelli and Popular Women Novelists 1890-1910, University of Birmingham and Liverpool John Moores University, 30 March-1st April, 2006
- ‘Spectral Theatricals: Performativity in Sensation Fiction and the Séance’, The Fin de Siècle Seminar Series, University of Oxford, 2 June 2005
- ‘The Ghost Within Us: Victorian Spiritualism in Selected Twentieth Century Fiction’, Victorian Modernities, University of Reading, 1 May 2004
- ‘Ventriloquising the Dead: Spiritualism in Sarah Waters’ Affinity’, Hystorical Fictions: Women, History and Authorship, University of Wales, Swansea, 4-6 August 2003