Jo Wharton joined the department in 2023, having previously worked as a research associate at the University of St Andrews and as a lecturer in eighteenth-century and Romantic literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. Prior to these roles, she held an Early Career Fellowship at Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany, and received several short-term research fellowships in the UK and the USA.
Jo pursued her undergraduate studies in English and Philosophy at the University of Leeds before coming to York for an MA in Romantic and Sentimental Literature. She earned her PhD from York’s Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies and Department of English and Related Literature, focusing on materialist and sense-based psychology in the works of Anna Letitia Barbauld, Hannah More, and Elizabeth Hamilton.
Jo Wharton’s research focuses on the eighteenth century and Romantic period, and brings together critical approaches spanning history of science and technology, media history, material and visual culture, and studies of sex and gender. Her first book, Material Enlightenment: Women Writers and the Science of Mind, 1770-1830 (Boydell, 2018) addressed women’s contributions to psychological discourse and practice, with a focus on Anna Letitia Barbauld, Honora Edgeworth, Hannah More, Elizabeth Hamilton and Maria Edgeworth. The book shows how, through the philosophical language of materiality they developed, and the ‘enlightened domesticity’ they espoused, these writers transformed educational culture and made substantial interventions in the social reformist politics of Britain and Ireland. Jo has also authored and co-authored articles and book chapters on topics ranging from eighteenth-century children’s literature to gender history of science and Irish literary and technological history. Currently, she is engaged in a second book project, provisionally titled Insecure Networks: Cultures of Colonial Telegraphy, 1794-1850, which explores the literary, visual, and material cultures surrounding the optical telegraph in British colonial contexts.
Jo teaches on the core first-year modules, ‘Approaches to Literature I: Writing Modernity’ and ‘A World of Literature II: Empire and Aftermaths.’ She also teaches the special module, ‘Feeling the Eighteenth Century.’
Jo convenes and teaches ‘Wollstonecraft to Jane Austen: Femininity and Literary Culture.’