Areas of Specialization and Interest
Mullen's research examines the relationship between history, literature, and politics with a particular emphasis on nineteenth-century English and Irish writing. Her current book project considers anachronisms in nineteenth-century English and Irish novels. It demonstrates how the novel's narrative form – long associated with linear development and shared national time – unsettles the progressive plotting of imperial history and the homogeneous, empty time of the nation. Work from this project is forthcoming in Victoriographies and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. She has published additional research on the politics of historical time in Victorian Poetry. In addition to her work on nineteenth-century literature, Mullen is interested in the public humanities, public education, and contemporary theory.
In Real Time: Institutions, Anachronisms and the Nineteenth-Century Novel
In Real Time redefines realism through the contradiction between its institutional and anachronistic aesthetics. Realism conceals historical time by mediating the past and future so that we imagine them in terms of already-existing political and social institutions. But realism's pervasive anachronisms—its out-of-date, even regressive characters, confused chronologies, and prevalent narrative anachronies—paradoxically introduce historicity to institutions that work to conceal it. Challenging the solidity of a historical and social reality defined by institutions, anachronisms insist on a heterogeneous historical time open to unknown futures. In Real Time centers the 'failed' Irish novel as an exemplar of realism's contradictions, offering new readings of canonical novels by Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, and Charles Dickens alongside lesser-known Irish novels. Creating a new transnational literary history, the book argues that realism locates its opposition to institutions in the very anachronisms that institutional time creates.