English, Drama and Writing Studies

Emily Harris in New Zealand and Australia


Professor Michele Leggott  


English, Drama and Writing Studies

Project code: ART010

I am preparing online editions of two important sets of primary material relating to New Zealand writer and artist Emily Cumming Harris (1837-1925). Very little is known about Harris’s early years in Taranaki, about the writing she did during the siege of new Plymouth in 1860 or about her time in Hobart and Melbourne 1861-65. An edition of family letters supported by an introduction and contextual notes will fill in some of the picture and supply understanding of Harris’s formative years. An edition of Harris’s unpublished diaries 1885-86 and 1888-1891, also with introduction and contextual notes, will extend what we know about the artist’s struggle to earn a living by means of teaching and painting in the late 19th century as women began to emerge from the rigid expectations of colonial life. Taken together, the letters and diaries form the basis for an extended investigation into the life and work of a woman who deserves to be better known for her contributions to current debates about creativity, gender and memory.

Scholar’s Work

The summer scholar will help research and write contextual notes for both editions and prepare clean copy for upload towards the end of the scholarship period. S/he will work alongside my small research team (postgraduate students Makyla Curtis and Betty Davis), who are developing the larger framework of my Harris project and whose experience to date with the data we have uncovered will give the scholar a head start on her/his tasks.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The summer scholar who joins my project should be excited about historical research and its impact on contemporary thinking. A knowledge of the role of archives and documentary record is essential, and someone who has completed English 718 Opening the Archive is perfectly placed for the project.
Precise skills:

  • locating, assessing and description of historical records 
  • clear, analytical writing and note-taking 
  • high-level copy editing and proofreading 
  • ability to work as part of a research team

Applicants should address these required skills in their application and indicate if they have been in touch with the proposed supervisor.

The Rituals and Materials of Mourning for Early Modern European Queens

At Face Value? The Art and Science of Complexion in Early Modern Europe