Staff

Director

  • Rachel Sykes researches contemporary American fiction, feminism, and memoir. She is currently finishing her first book, The Quiet Contemporary American Novel, which traces the depiction of quiet people, places, and states in American fiction (1860-present), with a particular focus on quiet as an undervalued facet of contemporaneity. Her next project analyses the politics and poetics of ‘oversharing’ in contemporary women’s life-writing, looking particularly at the popularity and critical derision of both the personal essay and social media narrative forms.

Members

  • Rona Cran’s research is concerned with the interrelation of literature, art, and music in mid-twentieth-century America, with a particular focus on New York City. Her first book was an interdisciplinary study of the significance and uses of collage in the work of a range of European and American artists and writers, from Picasso to Bob Dylan. She is currently writing a cultural study of New York City between 1960 and 1980, mapping the poetry produced during the period back onto (and into) the city, and attending to the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality.
  • 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 posthumanist philosophy, 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.
  • Sara Wood works on African American visual art and literature in the twentieth century. She is 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.
  • Diletta De Cristofaro works on contemporary North American and British fiction. Her research takes place at the intersection of literary studies and philosophy to interrogate the way in which contemporary narratives construct time and history. Diletta is currently working on her first monograph, which explores the contemporary post-apocalyptic novel through the lens of postmodern theories of historiography and narratological analyses.
  • Dorothy Butchard researches contemporary literature and digital cultures, with particular focus on creative representations of technological change. She is currently working on her first monograph, Digital Anxiety, which explores how literary and digital works published in the late twentieth and twenty-first century reconfigure the tropes, conventions and aesthetic innovations of earlier eras in response to emergent technologies. Her most recent research explores intersections between art, literature and surveillance
  • Asha Rogers research is based on the archive-based study of literary and cultural institutions, cultural policy, and organizations as definitive forces in literary history. Her current book, State Sponsored Literature: Britain and Cultural Diversity after 1945, examines how the modern British state became an integral, though conflicted, guardian of literary autonomy in the postcolonial world, with chapters on the British Council, the Arts Council, the Rushdie Affair, GCSE anthologies, and UNESCO. Examining the changing justifications for state support of literature in Britain, it argues that beliefs about who constituted literature’s ‘public’ were radically challenged by the unrivalled migration to Britain at the end of Empire. She is also interested in how democratic liberalism has shaped literary culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Jarad Zimbler's first book,  J. M. Coetzee and the Politics of Style (2014), is a close study of Coetzee’s literary practice and relations. Combining a range of approaches - from narratology and stylistics, to book history and the sociology of literature - the book traces the emergence of Coetzee’s bare prose, and his engagements with South African writers, such as Alex La Guma, Andre Brink and Nadine Gordimer; and metropolitan writers, such as Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka and Alain Robbe-Grillet. In his new research project, Literary Communities and Literary Worlds, Zimbler examines several mid-twentieth-century authors who moved from one literary field to another, and who re-shaped their practices in response to their new literary environments.
  • Rebecca Roach's teaching and research focuses on 20th and 21st century literature and culture across the Anglophone world, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between literature, media and book history.

Doctoral Students

  • Terry Anderson, Studying for PHD in English Literature. Broadly, his interest is in twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction and non-fiction, especially from the US. More specifically Terry's PHD research explores the intermedial relationship between contemporary fiction and the moving image in terms of how the production and spectatorship of film are represented within fiction and how this relates to questions of cinematic ethics that have emerged during the last decade.  He is also interested in representations of youth subcultures within TV/film/fiction and explorations of the figure of the programmer within TV/film/fiction/non-fiction.
  • Richard Bingham, Studying for PhD in English Literature. Richard's research examines how the aesthetic category of the realistic is being reconstituted in the twenty-first century by our habitual use of new technologies. Not intrinsically connected to the conventions of any genre, style or epoch named ‘realism’, ‘realistic’ is a colloquial term for describing a certain affective structure in our encounters with aesthetic objects. Bringing literary theory and aesthetic philosophy into dialogue with new media studies and recent political theory, he maps the technocultural constitution of the ‘representative’, ‘experiential’ and ‘intuitive’ modes of the realistic in a broad range of literature, media and discourse. Examples include: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Tao Lin’s novelistic depictions of the digital present; the digital-urban virtual environments of Rockstar Games and Ubisoft; and neoliberal political narratives about our technocapitalist future. 
  • Rowanne Conway, Studying for PhD in English Literature. Rowanne's thesis is the first substantial interpretation of the depiction of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in contemporary American culture. It will feature an in depth analysis of BPD in American fiction and memoir, as well as an overview of its representations in other popular media (film, online culture) with a focus on authors Donna Tartt, Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan, Chuck Palahniuk, A. M. Holmes and Marya Hornbacher. Her research interests involve phenomenology as a methodology for the humanities, mental health studies and the use of phenomenological psychology in literary studies. These include but are not limited to personality disorders, confessional memoir and life writing, the history of psychiatry, the work of R. D. Laing, existential phenomenology, depiction of mental illness in film, magical thinking, embodiment in literature, eating disorders in literature, digital culture and mental health, theories of mental illness and psychosis and Heideggerian boredom. She is always keen to find collaborative researchers!
  • Rebekah Cunningham, Studying for PhD in English Literature. Rebekah's thesis focusses on the current state of videogame production and consumption, examining the ways in which videogames are constantly dynamic, changing in both pre- and post-release, and are also affected by the increasingly more interlinked relationships between traditional roles of the developer and the player. She is asking: in this new environment, how best can we – as digital culture scholars – create a discourse that both accounts for videogame dynamism and steps beyond the set boundaries of player/developer roles? To achieve this, Rebekah will be examining a broad spectrum of videogames, including Overwatch and Until Dawn, alongside a variety of theories, such as Foucauldian approaches to authorship and the potential importance of what Steve Wilcox describes as “middle-state publishing”. Her broader research interests include videogame studies; digital cultures; authorship and space/place theory; and the interplay between old and new mediums.
  • Shantel Edwards, Studying for PhD English Literature. Shantel's thesis investigates the ways in which discourses of race are constructed and circulated through the marketing of contemporary mixed race authors. It aims to assess what sense of mixed race identity is made available both through their work and through their presence as cultural figures, investigating the ways in which the ethnicity and racial heritage of the authors is constructed by outside agents - journalists, publishers etc. - to evaluate what sense of racial identity these materials create and disseminate to the wider British public and what these materials may tell us about contemporary attitudes towards race in Britain today. She is interested in the ways in which ideas about mixed race have peaked throughout the twenty-first century, from the release of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth in 2000 through to the fascination surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's inter-racial relationship in 2017. The authors her thesis focuses on are Zadie Smith (White Teeth, 2000 and Swing Time, 2016), Hari Kunzru (The Impressionist, 2002 and White Tears, 2017), Monica Ali (Brick Lane, 2003) and Diana Evans (26a, 2005).