Professor Deborah Longworth BA, MA, PhD

Photograph of Dr Deborah Longworth

Department of English Literature
Professor of English Literature
Head of English Literature
Deputy Head of School of English, Drama and Creative Studies

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I joined the University of Birmingham in 1998, having received my PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London, with a thesis on women, the city and the concept of the flâneuse in nineteenth and twentieth-century English and American literature. Previously I studied at the University of Reading, where I took a BA in English Literature & Philosophy, and the MA Literature and the Visual Arts 1840-1940.


I teach nineteenth and twentieth-century literature at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I offer final year undergraduate options modules in The Modernist Novel and Remembering World War One. At postgraduate level I teach and supervise in the period 1880-1940, with particular specialisms in modernism and women's writing.

Postgraduate supervision

At postgraduate level I have specialist teaching and supervisory expertise in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century literature.

I welcome applications for study in the following areas:

  • Literary modernism
  • The city and urban theory
  • Women’s writing (particularly of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Richardson, Djuna Barnes, Katherine Mansfield, May Sinclair, Edith Sitwell)
  • The nineteenth and/or early twentieth-century novel

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


My research focuses on English literature from 1880-1940, with a specific focus on gender and modernism and the modernist novel. The monograph developed from my doctoral thesis, Streetwalking the Metropolis, was published by Oxford University Press in 2000 and is frequently included in the reading lists for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses on modernism, women’s writing and urban literature in both the UK and the United States. I have also produced studies of the American writer Djuna Barnes (Writers and their Works Series: Northcote House) and a study guide targeted at final-year and taught postgraduate students, Theorists of the Modernist Novel: James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf (Routledge). Recent articles include a discussion of metaphysics and the influence of Ralph Waldo Emerson in Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage, and a study of the New York modernist magazine Rogue.

My recent research and current monograph focuses on the work of Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell. In 2008 I received a Harry Ransom Mellon Fellowship and AHRC research leave grant for study on the Sitwells. During the past year I have presented research papers on the Sitwells to the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, the Northern Modernisms Seminar, and to the 2010 Modernist Studies Association conference in the United States.

I am one of the founding members of the British Association of Modernist Studies, an organization designed to provide a research network for individuals and groups working in modernist studies in all relevant disciplines across Britain. BAMS aims to facilitate connections with modernists abroad, and to support and develop education and training in modernist studies, particularly for postgraduates.

I am also co-founder and editor, along with Andrzej Gasiorek (Birmingham) and Michael Moses (Duke University), of the journal Modernist Cultures, the only British journal specifically dedicated to the study of modernism.

Other activities

Conference organisation

I have organized several international conferences and symposia in the field of modernist studies.

  • ‘Façade & The Sitwells’, Barber Art Gallery, University of Birmingham, 30th September 2011 (including evening performance of Pierrot Lunaire and Façade by The Orchestra of St Pauls and William Sitwell)
  • ‘Research Skills in Modernist Studies’, University of Birmingham, 31st March 2010 (One-day seminar for 35 doctoral students, on behalf of the British Association of Modernist Studies)
  • ‘Woolfian Boundaries’, 16th Annual International Virginia Woolf Conference, University of Birmingham, June 22nd-25th 2006 (Four-day conference, 300 delegates - co-host with Steve Ellis and Kathryn Simpson)
  • Northern Modernisms Seminar, University of Birmingham, November 2005 (One-day symposium, 40 delegates – co-host with Andrzej Gasiorek).
  • Fifth Modernist Studies Association Conference, University of Birmingham, 25th-28th September 2003 (Four-day conference, 250 delegates – co-host with Andrzej Gasiorek, Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls)
  • Modernist Transactions 1880-1930, University of Birmingham, 30th June - 1st July 2000 (Two-day symposium, 40 delegates – co-host with Andrzej Gasiorek)
  • Literature, Film and Modernity 1880-1940, University of London, 13th – 15th January 2000 (co-host with Laura Marcus)




  • Theorists of the Modernist Novel: James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf (London: Routledge, 2007) ISBN 041528542 9/7
  • Djuna Barnes (Plymouth: Northcote House Press, 2003) ISBN 0746309449
  • A Cultural History of Madrid: Modernism and the Urban Spectacle (Oxford: Berg, 2003) ISBN 1859736513
  • Streetwalking the Metropolis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) ISBN: 0198186835

Book in progress

  • The Sitwells: Ornamental Modernism (Oxford University Press)

Edited books

  • The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms (eds), Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Longworth, Andrew Thacker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) in press

Contributions to edited works

  • ‘Gendering the Modernist Text’, in Peter Brooker, Andrzej Gasiorek, Deborah Longworth and Andrew Thacker (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Modernisms, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) [9,500 words] in press
  • ‘Beauty for the eye, satire for the mind, depravity for the senses!: Rogue, the Patagonians and the Post-Decadent Avant-Garde’, in Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (eds), A Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), [7,000 words] in press
  • ‘Remembrance and Reconstruction: Autobiography and the Men of 1914’, in Michael Walsh (ed), London, Modernism and 1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 196-213, ISBN 9780521195805 [7,000 words]
  • ‘Remember Scarborough: The Sitwells on the Sands’, in Lara Feigel and Alexandra Harris (eds), Modernism on Sea: Art and Culture at the British Seaside (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009), pp. 71-84, ISBN 978-1906165246 [5,000 words]
  • ‘Gender and Modernism’, in Philip Tew and Alex Murray (eds), The Modernism Handbook (London: Continuum, 2009), pp. 170-185, ISBN 978-0826488435
  • ‘There’s more space within than without’: Agoraphobia and the Bildungsroman in Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage’, in Gail Cunningham and Stephen Barner (eds), London Eyes: Reflections in Text and Image (Oxford: Berghahn, 2007)
  • ‘Djuna Barnes’ Baroque Modernism’, in Morag Schiach (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel (Cambridge: CUP, 2006)
  • ‘Modernism’, in Faye Hammill and Ashlie Sponenberg (eds), Encyclopaedia of British Women’s Writing 1900-1950 (London: Palgrave, 2006)
  • ‘Dorothy Richardson, in Faye Hammill and Ashlie Sponenberg (eds), Encyclopaedia of British Women’s Writing 1900-1950 (London: Palgrave, 2006)
  • ‘Whirlpools of Modernity: European Naturalism and the Urban Phantasmagoria’, in Jenny Bourne Taylor and Martin Ryle (eds), George Gissing, 1903-2003: Voices of the Unclassed (Hants: Ashgate, 2005)
  • ‘Trauma and War-Memory’, in Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls (eds), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • ‘Shopping for the Future: The Re-enchantment of Birmingham’s Urban Space’, in Liam Kennedy (ed), Remaking Birmingham (London: Routledge, 2004)
  • ‘Fiesta Culture in Madrid Posters, 1934-1955’, in Jo Labanyi (ed.), Constructing Identity in Twentieth-Century Spain: Theoretical Debates and Cultural Practice (OUP, 2001)

Journal articles

  • ‘Subject, Object and the Nature of Reality: Metaphysics in Dorothy Richardson’s Deadlock’, Pilgrimages: A Journal of Dorothy Richardson Studies (2009)
  • ‘Paris is not Rome, or Madrid: Locating the City of Modernity’, Critical Quarterly 44:2 (2002), pp. 17-29
  • ‘Flâneur or Flâneuse? Mythologies of Modernity’, New Formations: Hating Tradition Properly 38 (1999), pp. 91-100
  • ‘Women in the Circus of Modernity: Djuna Barnes and Nightwood’, Women: A Cultural Review 9.3 (1998), 266-77.


  • Faye Hammill, 'Sophistication: A Literary and Cultural History’, THES 2 September 2010
  • ‘Rebecca Beasley, Ezra Pound and the Visual Culture of Modernism / Edward Comentale and Andrzej Gasiorek (eds). 'T. E. Hulme and the Question of Modernism’, Textual Practice 23:3 (2009), pp. 513-19
  • ‘Tamar Katz, Impressionist Subjects: Gender, Interiority, and Modern Fiction in England / Clare Hanson, Hysterical Fictions: The Woman's Novel in the Twentieth Century / Lucie Armitt, Contemporary Women's Fiction and the Fantastic’, The Modern Language Review, 97:1 (2002), pp. 179-182
  • ‘Phyllis Lassner, British Women Writers of World War II: Battlegrounds of Their Own’, The Modern Language Review 95:2 (2000), pp. 488-489
  • ‘Susan Zlotnick, Women, Writing, and the Industrial Revolution’, The Yearbook of English Studies, Vol. 31, North American Short Stories and Short Fictions (2001), pp. 272-273
  • ‘Karen Schneider, Loving Arms: British Women Writing the Second World War’ , The Modern Language Review, 93:4 (1998), pp. 1098-1099
  • ‘Susan F. Beegel; Susan Shillinglaw; Wesley N. Tiffney Jr. (eds), Steinbeck and the Environment: Interdisciplinary Approaches’, The Modern Language Review, 93:4 (1998), p. 1096

Selected additional publications

  • ‘The Urban Observer’, catalogue essay for The Camden Town Group Online Research Project (Tate Gallery – forthcoming February 2011)
  • ‘Research Methodology in the Arts and Humanities’. Postgraduate online research skills course, co-authored with Helen Laville, for Epigeum Limited [Received ‘Gold Learning Impact’ award at the international IMS Learning Impact awards]. Further details at

View all publications in research portal