Dr Emma Zimmerman

Dr Emma Zimmerman

Teaching Fellow in Twentieth Century and Contemporary Literature

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I teach and research twentieth-century and contemporary literature. I have longstanding interests in literary representations of space and place, with particular emphasis on the connections between the built environment and modernist literary forms. My current research project is concerned with the literary and cultural history of bathroom and toilet spaces from the late nineteenth century to the present day.


  • PhD English Literature (University of Nottingham, 2016)
  • MA Twentieth Century and Contemporary Literature (University of Nottingham, 2012)
  • BA (Hons) English Studies (University of Nottingham, 2011)


I joined the University of Birmingham in September 2017. Before that, I worked as a Teaching Affiliate in the School of English at the University of Nottingham, where I also completed my PhD in 2016, with a thesis on representations of architectural space in the modernist novel. I also obtained my BA and MA degrees at Nottingham. Both my MA and PhD degrees were funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). From 2012-2015, I was lead coordinator of Nottingham’s interdisciplinary Landscape, Space, Place Research Group.


In 2017/18, I will be teaching on the following modules:


  • Prose
  • Shakespeare’s Sisters
  • Aspects of Modernism



I am currently working on my first monograph, titled Architexture: Space, Form, and the Novel. The book examines the connections between the twentieth-century built environment and modernist literary forms through considering the representation of architectural space in works by Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys, and Virginia Woolf. Through mobilising a set of dialogues between literary studies, literary geography, spatial theory, and the social sciences, the book provides new interdisciplinary insights into the social, cultural, and architectural history of literary modernism.

Since completing my PhD, I have become increasingly fascinated by the social and cultural history of bathrooms and toilets. My current research project investigates how the development of these spaces altered the ways in which modernist writers articulated the everyday experience of the world, and how the spaces continue to influence the contemporary literary imagination. I have work in preparation on the ladies’ cloakroom, the art deco bathroom, and the public toilet as represented in various works by Katherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, and Jon McGregor.

Other activities

I am a member of the Centre for Modernist Cultures at Birmingham, and am also a member of the British Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS). I have continuing links with the interdisciplinary Landscape, Space, Place Research Group at the University of Nottingham.


Book chapters:

  • ‘Uncanny Cities: Urban Geographies and Metropolitan Life in the 1930s’, in A History of 1930s British Literature, ed. by Benjamin Kohlmann and Matthew Taunton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Journal articles: