Romantic Music in Victorian Era

I come from the University of Rennes 2, in France, where I did a Licence and a Master’s degree in research in musicology. During my Master, I wrote a dissertation on the music adapted from Alice in Wonderland. I joined DCU last year to start a PhD on Romantic music in the Victorian Era.

Beyond red roses, impossible loves, soppy sunset contemplations hand in hand, and eating spaghetti with your beloved one while the chef sings ‘Bella Notte’, Romanticism represents a major philosophical and artistic movement of the nineteenth century.

Immanuel Kant is probably the best representative of the philosophical impulse that gave birth to Romanticism. In Critic of Judgment, he disputes the views of Enlightenment that every question finds a logical answer, demonstrable through science, as everything in the Universe is logically connected. Kant asks where are human beings to find their freedom and subjectivity if they are limited by a physical world and nature where everything is to be decided through reason. For the Romantics, art must seek to enter in opposition to the classical forms, and appeal to an unmeasurable sense of the infinity: what art only can create and science will never demonstrate.



Music does not stay in the background and, for its ‘ineffable’ characteristics, it is seen by many Romantics as the ultimate form of expression. Composers like Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, and Hector Berlioz, compose symphonic poems inspired by Romantic thematics, or ‘musical fragments’.

If some of those compositions clearly revolutionize the rigid forms of eighteenth-century music, it is not clear why some others should be included in the Romantic movement. The confusion has long reigned in musicology, and it is now common to say a music is Romantic just because it was composed in the nineteenth-century, and not because of its characteristics.

My thesis is to seek for the characteristics and background of a music which, depending on its context of production and reception, will show an incompatibility with, even a contestation of the musical logic we now know as ‘classical’. As research in Romantic music has been focused a lot on Germany, I wanted to cross the sea and have a closer look at what happened during the Victorian Era. Even if a big interest has been reintroduced lately in this field, a lot more is to be done.



I work on several composers, most of whom were active in London, and interpret some pieces of their production I deem linkable to a Romantic ideology. It is a work of interpretation of my own, and some composers could have, without intending it, produced pieces I will call Romantic.

The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore, as Popular airs forced into the limits of ‘serious’ piano music, and rewritten by many composers all along the nineteenth century, present poetical and musical contradictions that put them in a unique fashion regarding classical songs.

William Balfe, an Irish expatriate, composes an opera on a Polish rebel fighting the Austrian empire, staging love and revolution. William Sterndale Bennett, despite great similarities with the style of Felix Mendelssohn, that has been called more than once a classical, follows the very singular ‘piano school’ of the Royal Academy of Music in London. My research should lead to a better understanding of Romanticism in music, and a new approach of Victorian composers.

Written By: Maxime Le Mée

“The Internet Is Not A Luxury, It Is A Necessity”

“The Internet Is Not A Luxury, It Is A Necessity.”

Those are the words of former US President Barack Obama, whilst research commissioned by Disney has ranked internet access as the number one bare necessity of life for Britons. It is clear we are becoming more and more reliant on internet access with 9 out of 10 adults accessing the internet weekly and 8 out of 10 accessing it daily “on the go”. But are the systems that are designed to connect us to the internet capable of living up with the demand? Do we have the tools to design networks and systems that can connect us seamlessly to the world?

Despite our ever growing reliance on the internet and a connected world, it can often be a struggle to get a reliable WiFi or 4G signal. Most people have experienced a situation where they are watching a programme on Netflix, streaming music or browsing social media when they lose their internet connection. For some, it is a very common occurrence with many people having poor WiFi signal in their home who resort to having to buy WiFi boosters or build their own home DIY reflector out of tin foil. At the best of times, this is mildly irritating but what can we do about it?


internet connectivity


All wireless communication systems like WiFi, 4G and Bluetooth communicate using radio or electromagnetic waves. Radio waves are similar to light but occur at lower frequencies than light and aren’t visible to the human eye. They are for the most part governed by Maxwell’s equations, a set of four equations that describe how electric and magnetic fields are generated as well as how fluctuating electric and magnetic fields propagate. These equations were first published together in complete form by James Clerk Maxwell in 1861. ‘So, if we know how electromagnetic waves and thus radio waves propagate why do we still seem to have issues acquiring a reliable wireless signal?

Maxwell’s equations are very difficult to solve. In the past empirical models have been used to model wireless communications but these aren’t very accurate as they simply fit a curve through measurements from a particular environment and are specific to that environment. These measurement campaigns are also very expensive and time-consuming to perform. More recently, research has focused on developing approximate methods to solve Maxwell’s equations and whilst these are more accurate than empirical models they still aren’t accurate enough especially with the trend towards more advanced communication systems like 5G.

In the School of Electronic Engineering, I am attempting to bridge the gap between the desired accuracy by radio engineers and us, the users, and that offered from empirical and approximate models by solving Maxwell’s equations exactly. Using mathematical tricks and some small approximations it is possible to solve Maxwell’s equations to a high degree of accuracy and develop useful models that can provide a solution very quickly.


By Ian Kavanagh

five-a-side soccer

Video: PGS Five-A-Side Soccer

Every Sunday, PGS hosts five-a-side soccer on the astro-pitches of the DCU Sports Complex. There are typically between 10-15 people playing each week, which gives people a chance to take breaks and socialise or alter teams. Our five-a-side meetup is a great social event and is for people of all abilities.


What is Five-a-Side Soccer?

Five-a-side is a variation of football in which each team fields 5 players (typically four outfield players and a goalkeeper). Other differences from football include a smaller pitch, smaller goals, and a reduced game duration. We meet every Sunday at 2 pm on the DCU Astro, all are welcome to join please check out our Facebook page for updates and photos.


DCU Postgraduate Society's weekly 5-A-Side Soccer meetup. Taking place every Sunday on the Astro Pitches in the DCU Sports Complex.
Brain Hijacking

PubhD 22: Brain Hijacking, Nanomedicine & English Literature

PubhD 22 – Our 22nd PubhD Dublin event will take place on the 6th September at 7:00 pm in the Pavilion in Trinity College Dublin, with three more guests presenting their research for 10 minutes each followed by a Q&A after each presentation. All are welcome to come and enjoy interesting talks and pints!


So who is speaking?

Diego Garaialde is a first year PhD student in UCD. He’s studied motivation since his Psychology Undergraduate in DCU and his Cognitive Science Masters in UCD. The PhD is focusing on how incentives can be used to change habits and promote learning, specifically for online courses. Current approaches to motivation focus on creating goals and fighting against your natural urges through sheer will and discipline.

Diego hopes that his research on incentives can help us understand how to train the brain so these natural urges align with personal goals, making the whole process easier. His research involves an amalgamation of theories from psychology, cognitive science, and human-computer interaction. The PhD is funded by the NUI Travelling Studentship and will involve trips to Birmingham, London, and San Francisco.

Dr Adriele Prina-Mello, Dr Adriele Prina-Mello, Assistant Professor in Translational Nanomedicine, has a research group focused on the translation of nanotechnology-tools, nanomaterials, their multifunctional solutions, devices and instrumentation applications into the medical research area as Nanomedicine tools for next generation medical practice.

Marie Egan is a 3rd year PhD student in DCU’s Department of English. Her research is focused Frances Burney (1752-1840) the prolific writer and journal keeper-a very successful novelist, whose novels and dramas reflect her own ambivalence towards her identity as a writer and her ongoing negotiations with the demands of propriety. Burney’s negotiations and compromises with the demands of family and society are the focus of Marie’s research.

Looking forward to seeing you all there. And as always, if you are interested in taking part in future events as a speaker, which usually take place on the first Wednesday of the month, please contact us at!


Center map



REMEDIATE the solution to soil pollution?

Increased industrialisation and production is linked to higher levels of pollution, and still society continues its industrial and urban growth, producing more greenhouse gases and hazardous waste year after year.

Environmental regulations are becoming more demanding, and now planning permission and zoning laws will not permit development or use of land where the land is above contamination limits.

These improved regulations combined with contaminated land often being centred near valuable urban areas, make contaminated land management and remediation an important emerging industry.

When toxic substances enter the soil, they can enter the food supply and drinking water via groundwater pathways, causing symptoms ranging from mild headaches and fatigue to seizures and cancer.

Bioremediation is a green science approach whereby bacteria are used to clean up and destroy hazardous chemicals. Incredibly, different strains of bacteria have evolved to destroy and reduce many toxic and man-made pollutants, including the plastic used for soda bottles and even uranium.

A lot of current environmental sciences focus on discovering, stimulating, and monitoring these bacteria. That’s where REMEDIATE comes in.

REMEDIATE is a Marie Curie Actions EU funded training network of 13 PhD students across Ireland, UK, Denmark, Germany and Italy. Each student is researching innovative methods for detection, removal, and management of pollution. REMEDIATE focuses on how to improve contaminated land management to remediate pollution in soil from a diversity of perspectives including engineering, biology, and chemical approaches.


Remediate Members
Remediate Members


Based in the Organic Geochemistry Research Lab (OGRe) in DCU, some students are developing underground sensors powered by electricity-generating bacteria to monitor pollution and nutrient concentrations.

These remarkable bacteria use natural nutrients from soil or wastewater to generate electricity in systems called Microbial Fuel Cells (MFC). Foster’s, the beer company, aided one of the largest pilot studies of MFCs to reduce their nutrient rich brewery water, generating almost a kilowatt of electricity, just enough for a dozen light bulbs. These fuel cell sensors will never produce enough power to boil a cup of tea but they can stay alive for years without replacing the batteries.

Coren Pulleyblank, a member of REMEDIATE and OGRe, is feeding bacteria present in polluted soils nutrients to stimulate degradation of key carcinogenic pollutants on site, removing the necessity of transporting soil for treatment, and improving options for remote areas.

There are a lot of other important projects happening through REMEDIATE and the OGRe lab.

At DCU, Aisling Cunningham is mapping pollution of carcinogens in Dublin Bay, and Anthony Grey is studying how bacteria capture carbon dioxide in soil. In Queens University Belfast (QUB), Ricardo Costeira uses DNA sequencing to investigate biological solutions to widespread pollution events, and Tatiana Cocerva examines what happens when metals enter the digestive system.

In the University of Copenhagen, Yi Zhao and Stacie Tardif, are making DNA chips, like microchips, and other tools to rapidly detect genes associated with pollution. With their research, farmers could quickly detect and control pollution in their fields. Researchers in England, Germany, and Italy are also contributing these projects.

Written by Peter Brennan