Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge BA, MA, PhD

Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge

Department of English Literature
Interdisciplinary Chair
Professor of Humanities and Human Rights

Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge’s work focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary literature and history, Human Rights, and Refugee Studies, drawing on the interdisciplinary connections between literature, history, politics, law and social policy. Her work has long been concerned with effects of modern violence on the mind in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries (The Destructive Element (1998), Reading Melanie Klein (1998) and The Writing of Anxiety (2007). Her more recent research has focused on the creative history of responses to that violence (The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (2011), Placeless People: Writing, Rights and Refugees (2018).  The interdisciplinary focus of Professor Stonebridge’s work is key to her wider project to re-cast global histories of human rights and justice across a broad and comparative modern moral and political canvas, such, for example, as in her current collaborative Global Challenges project with refugees and their host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Refugee Hosts.

She is co-editor of Oxford University Press’s Mid-Century Series, and has held visiting positions at Cornell University and the University of Sydney. She is a regular media commentator, and tweets about literature, history, and human rights @lyndseystonebri. In 2016, The Judicial Imagination was awarded the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for English Literature and in 2017, she was elected as a Fellow of the English Association.


  • PhD, University of London.
  • MA, Critical Theory, University of Sussex.
  • BA (Hons) English, 1st Class, Polytechnic of North London.


Lyndsey Stonebridge joined the Department of English Literature and the Institute into Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham, as Interdisciplinary Chair in Humanities and Human Rights in September 2018.  This innovative joint appointment is designed to further new understandings of how the arts and humanities connect with wider global histories of justice and human rights. Before coming to Birmingham, Professor Stonebridge had a long career at the University of East Anglia, where, among other roles, she was the founding Associate Dean of the Arts and Humanities Graduate School. Interdisciplinarity and the real-world relevance of humanities scholarship are core to her thinking, writing, and teaching.  She broadcasts, writes, and blogs regularly in the media on the cultural politics of human rights and, most recently, refugees and migration.  In 1997-1998 she was Fellow of the Society of Humanities at Cornell University, and, in 2010, was Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney. In 2018 she gave the Annual John Coffin Lecture at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Interdisciplinary Human Rights and Refugee StudiesModern
  • Contemporary, and Postcolonial literatures

Find out more - our PhD English Literature  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Professor Stonebridge’s research focuses on twentieth-century and contemporary literature and history, Human Rights, and Refugee Studies, drawing on the interdisciplinary connections between literature, history, politics, law, and social policy. She is a scholar of the political philosopher, Hannah Arendt  and, following Arendt, adopts a comparative and question-driven approach to modern cultural history.

Her most recent book Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees  (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a polemical study of how the literature of exile gave way to a more complicated and vexed articulation of statelessness in the mid twentieth century. In 1944 Hannah Arendt wrote: 'Everywhere the word 'exile' which once had an undertone of almost sacred awe, now provokes the idea of something simultaneously suspicious and unfortunate.' The book offers an intellectual and literary history of that transition, by showing how Arendt read literature to think about rightlessness, and how mid-century writers, such as George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Simone Weil, and W.H. Auden, were concerned to register to the emergence of mass displacement in their writing.  These writers all respond to a challenge that remains with us today: how might we imagine community and sovereignty beyond nation state histories?

Placeless People is a follow-on to The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (2011/14) which also took the work of Arendt as a theoretical starting point in order to think about the relation between law, justice and literature in the aftermath of total war and genocide. The book focused on the work of an extraordinary generation of women writers and intellectuals, including Rebecca West, Martha Gellhorn, Elizabeth Bowen, Dorothy Thompson, Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch, who were all passionately committed to justice whilst being sceptical about the mid-century turn to human rights.

Most recently, Lyndsey has been focusing on developing new methodologies capable of demonstrating the value of the arts and humanities to real world contexts.  Understanding how writing plays a role in developing new context for thinking about human rights, particularly refugee rights, is the basis of her current work with the multi-disciplinary AHRC/ESRC project Refugee Hosts working with refugees and their hosts in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.  Combining traditional humanities scholarship with creative, critical, and participatory approaches, the project focuses on the politics and ethics of hosting and neighbourliness in rights-scarce contexts.  Central to this recent work is the question of how we archive and create histories of statelessness, rightlessness, and impoverishment outside and between the histories of nations and global governance.

Lyndsey is currently completing a short polemical book for OUP's Literary Agenda Series, Writing and Writing: Literature in an Age of Human Rights (2019).

Other activities

  • Co-editor, with Allan Hepburn and Adam Piette, Mid-Century Series, Oxford University Press.
  • Member AHRC ODA Peer Review College
  • Editorial Boards: Migration and Society, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development; History: The Journal of the Historical Association, Psychoanalysis and History, Futures of the Archive: Theory, Life and Technology, English Association Monographs: English at the Interface.



  • Placeless People: Writing, Rights and Refugees (OUP, October 2018)
  • The Judicial Imagination: Writing After Nuremberg, (Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, 2011, pbk 2014) Winner of British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize for English Literature, 2016.
  • The Writing of Anxiety: Imagining Wartime in 1940s British Culture (Palgrave: Basingstoke, 2007) 173pp.
  • The Destructive Element: British Psychoanalysis and Modernism, Language, Discourse and
  • Society Series, Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1998 (Routledge: New York, 1998),

Edited collections

  • Writing and Rights (edited with Rachel Potter), Special Issue of Critical Quarterly.December 2014, 56, 4.
  • British Fiction after Modernism: The Novel at Mid-Century (edited with Marina Mackay), (Palgrave: Basingstoke, 2007).
  • Reading Melanie Klein (edited with John Phillips), (Routledge: London and New York, 1998)

Journal articles

Chapters in books

  • ‘The Banality of Brexit’ Brexit and Literature: Critical and Cultural Responses, ed. Robert Eaglestone (London: Routledge, 2018),
  • ‘”Inner Emigration”: On the run with Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud’, in Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism, eds. Daniel Pick and Matt ffychte, New York and London: Routledge, 2016.
  • ‘Hannah Arendt’s Message of Ill-Tidings, Statelessness, Rights and Speech’, in The
  • Future of Testimony, eds. Jane Kilby and Antony Rowland, New York and London, Routledge, 2014, pp. 113-128.
  • ‘”That which you are denying us”: Refugees, Rights and Writing in Arendt’, The Future of Trauma Theory, eds. Gert Buelens, Sam Durrant and Robert Eaglestone, New York and London: Routledge, 2013, pp. 113-126.
  • ‘The Perpetrator Occult: Francis Bacon paints Adolf Eichmann’, Representing the Perpetrator, eds. Jenni Adams and Sue Vice, Vallentine Mitchell: Middlesex and Oregon, 2013, pp. 93-110.
  • ‘Writing after Nuremberg’, The Edinburgh Companion to War Writing, eds. Mark Rawlinson and Adam Piette, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, 2012, pp.101-109.
  • ‘A Love of Beginnings: Henry Moore and Psychoanalysis’, Henry Moore, ed. Chris Stephens, London: Tate Publishing, 2010, pp. 40-49, ISBN-10: 1854378368 ISBN-13: 978-18543783612.
  • ‘Trauma Theory’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the
  • Second World War (ed. Marina Mackay), Cambridge UP: Cambridge, 2008, pp. 194-206, ISBN 9780521887557(hbk), ISBN 9780521715416 (pbk). 
  • ‘Hearing them Speak: Voices in Wilfred Bion, Muriel Spark and Penelope Fitzgerald’, (reprint), in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 242, ed. Jeff Hunter, Thomson Press, 2007.
  • ‘Portrait of an analyst: Adrian Stokes and Melanie Klein’, in The Coral Mind: New Essays on Adrian Stokes (ed. Stephen Bann), University of Pennsylvania Press, Penn, 2007, pp.151-180.
  • ‘Psychoanalysis and Literature’, The Cambridge History of Twentieth- Century English Literature (eds. Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 2004, pp.269-285.
  • ‘Sticks and Dahlias: The Destructive Element in Literary criticism and psychoanalysis’, (reprint), in The Language, Discourse, Society Reader, eds. Heath, McCabe and Riley, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004, pp.362-373.
  • ‘Bombs and Roses: The Writing of Anxiety in Henry Green’s Caught’ (reprint), in Fiction of the 1940s: Stories of Survival, (eds. Rod Mengham and N.H. Reeve), Palgrave: 2002), pp. 46-70.
  • ‘Rhythm: Breaking the Illusion’, New Essays on Virginia Woolf, ed. Helen Wussow, Dallas: Contemporary Research Press, 1995, pp.99-117.


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