Centre for Contemporary Literature and Culture

The Centre for Contemporary Literature and Culture brings together scholars at the University of Birmingham with an interest in how the literary and related arts are produced and experienced in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries.

Central to our aims are the development of critical methods - both theoretical and practical - that allow for productive encounters with contemporary literature and culture. Our members work on a range of approaches to contemporary literature and culture including studies in: readership, new media, object oriented ontology and phenomenology, intermediality, and postcolonialism. We teach across the undergraduate programme in English Literature, Creative Writing, and Film, and convene the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature pathway for the MA Literature and Culture. Our members work closely with colleagues in B-Film and CLEMT. Some sense of our particular interests is given below, and you can get more information by clicking through to our staff pages.


  • Rona Cran is currently researching the New York literary scene in the 1960s and 1970s, after Frank O’Hara’s death, exploring the aftermath for a literary community, however disparate, of the loss of a key creative figure. Rona’s is also working on research that explores the connections and correlations between the New York poetry scene during the 1960s and 1970s, and those of Liverpool, during the same period. Rona’s previous research has resulted in the book Collage in Twentieth-Century Art, Literature, and Culture: Joseph Cornell, William Burroughs, Frank O’Hara, and Bob Dylan and an AHRC-funded case study on big data and Beat literature, as part of the Institute of Historical Research’s collaborative digital humanities research project (BUDDAH).
  • Zara Dinnen works mainly on new media and contemporary American culture; she has published on the representation of programming in films, computer objects in comics, remix writing, and digital metaphors. Zara is currently working on her first book, American Culture and the Digital Everyday, and is co-editing collections on Narrative Theory, and the work of Jennifer Egan.
  • Danielle Fuller (Centre Director) works in two fields that often overlap in her research: Canadian Studies and Reading Studies. She is committed to a cultural studies-inflected study of contemporary literary and popular culture and has a track record of successful interdisciplinary collaboration involving various combinations of empirical and textual methods. Danielle has a long-standing interest in the cultural production of books, in the ways that writers, publishers and readers form communities around texts, and in how cultural value is negotiated within and outside such groups. Currently she is working on a number of creative projects that address the role that reading plays in people’s lives by bringing together scholars from different disciplines and creative workers from the arts and cultural industries.
  • Ruth Gilligan is a novelist and researcher who works predominantly in the field of Irish Studies and contemporary world literature. With a particular interest in structure and form, she has recently been devising a 'Narratology of Otherness' through which the structural ingenuities of contemporary transcultural fiction may be examined. This has also informed her own novel-writing, the latest of which is a polyvocal work based around the history of Irish Jews.
  • Dave Gunning works mostly in the field of contemporary British and postcolonial literatures. He has published broadly on the topic of minority ethnic writing in Britain and current interests include the postcolonial essay and how emerging ethical questions find literary form in the twenty-first century.
  • Matt Hayler's research to date has focussed on e-reading and the move from page to screen. He is particularly interested in the effects of technology on reading through changes in embodied practice and these concerns lead him to draw on (post)phenomenology and cognitive science. This work has led to an interest in technology more broadly and his research is now starting to explore the representations of "transhuman" modifications of the body through technology and how such concerns might be usefully studied at a nexus of the cognitive, medical, and digital humanities.
  • Charlotta Salmi works mainly with violence in contemporary postcolonial and world literature. Her research interests vary from conflict writing and protest literature to alternative intermedial responses to different forms of postcolonial, state and sectarian violence. Her current project looks at socio-political upheaval in graphic novels and memoirs from South Asia and the Middle East.
  • Sara Wood works on African American visual art and literature in the twentieth century. I am particularly interested in how ideas of artistic freedom – particularly formal experimentation and abstraction – can be explored within the broader context of the African American freedom movements during the civil rights era. Sara’s book, Maximising Freedom: African American Art, 1945 -1970, is forthcoming with University of Mississippi Press.