Dr Dave Gunning BA, MA, PhD

Dr Dave Gunning

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a lecturer in English Literature, specialising especially in the contemporary period, and with particular interests in postcolonial and postimperial literatures. My teaching and research activities give some sense of the range of my interests within this.


I have a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Manchester and an MA in Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures from the University of Leeds. My doctorate was also awarded at Leeds, for work on black British writing.


My first lectureship was in Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leeds, though I took up my current role at the University of Birmingham in 2007. 

I have published widely on topics within black British and British Asian writing, including my book Race and Antiracism in Black British and British Asian Literature. I also have a more general interest in diverse postcolonial literatures and have published on a range of topics and authors in this field. I have recently completed an introduction to postcolonial literature as part of the Edinburgh University Press Critical Guides to Literature series.


I mostly teach contemporary literature, at all levels of the undergraduate programme. At postgraduate level I convene the MA strand in Contemporary Literary Cultures.

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise MPhil and PhD students on a range of literary and cross-disciplinary subjects and would welcome applications in the following areas:

  • Black British and British Asian literature and culture
  • Comparative postcolonial literature and theory
  • Representations of race and minority identity

Current and former PhD supervisions include:

  • A micro-history of black Handsworth
  • Local and global identities in the contemporary Irish novel
  • Arab-American Drama
  • Narrative and Identity in the fiction of Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Feminisms in the New Nigerian Novel
  • Postcolonial readings of Elizabeth Barrett Browning


The predominant focus of my research to date has been black British and British Asian writing, though I'm interested in contemporary literature more generally, including (but not limited to) writing from Britain, Ireland, West and Southern Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean. I'm especially interested in questions of form, in relation to both fictional and non-fiction writing.  In addition to this, I have strong interests in cultural theory, especially theories of postcolonialism, race and minority culture. My abiding interest in the formation of ‘postcolonial literature’ as a commercial, critical, and pedagogical category particularly guides my current major project, in which I am interested in the form and significance of the postcolonial literary essay. 

Other activities

I am the Chair of the Postcolonial Studies Association. I am also a member of the European Association of Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies and the British Association for Irish Studies.

I regularly present at conferences across the UK, and in recent years have also spoken in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, and Turkey. In July 2011, Dr Clare Barker and I hosted a major international conference at Birmingham, entitled ‘Postcolonialism, Economies, Crises: Interdisciplinary Perspectives’.  



  • Postcolonial Literature (Edinburgh University Press, 2013)
  • Race and Antiracism in Black British and British Asian Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2010)

Edited Collection

  • Tracing Black America in Black British Culture, jointly edited with Abigail Ward. Special Issue of Atlantic Studies: Literary, Cultural and Historical Perspectives 6.2 (2009).

Articles in Journals

  • ‘Ethnicity, Authenticity and Empathy in the Realist Novel and its Alternatives’, Contemporary Literature 53.4 (2012), 779-813.
  • ‘Race, Community and Agency in Fictional Representations of Sport in Britain’, Moving Worlds 12.2 (2012), 126-35.
  • ‘Daljit Nagra, Faber Poet: Burdens of Representation and Anxieties of Influence’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature 43.3 (2008), 95-108.
  • ‘Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge and the (Re)Construction of Racial Identity’, Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing & Culture 28.1 (2007), 70-81.
  • ‘S. I. Martin’s Incomparable World and the Possibilities for Black British Historical Fiction’, Journal of Postcolonial Writing 43.2 (2007), 203-215.
  • ‘Anti-Racism, the Nation-State and Contemporary Black British Literature’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 39.2 (2004), 29-43.

Selected Chapters in Books

  • ‘Unhappy Bildungsromane’, in Andrea Levy: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, ed. by Jeannette Baxter and David James. (London and New York: Bloomsbury). Forthcoming March 2014.
  • ‘Centripetal and Concentric Narratives of Race: Caryl Phillips’s Dancing in the Dark and Percival Everett’s Erasure’ in Caryl Phillips: Writing in the Key of Life, ed. by Bénédicte Ledent and Daria Tunca (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2012), pp. 359-74.
  • ‘Claude McKay, Eric Walrond and the Locations of Black Internationalism’ in The Caribbean Short Story: Critical Perspectives ed. by Lucy Evans, Mark McWatt and Emma Smith (Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2011), pp. 141-54.  
  • ‘Infrahuman Rights, Silence, and the Possibility of Communication in Recent Narratives of Illegality in Britain’, in Experiences of Freedom in Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures ed. by Shaul Bassi and Annalisa Oboe (London and New York: Routledge: 2011), pp. 141-50.
  • ‘Caribbean Modernism’, in The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms, ed. by Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Longworth, and Andrew Thacker (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press: 2010), pp. 910-25.
  • ‘Cosmopolitanism and Marginalisation in Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe’, in Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature, ed. by Kadija Sesay (London: Hansib, 2005), pp. 165-178.


Contemporary literature and culture, especially that of the postcolonial world and of minority communities in the UK

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