Dr Rebecca Roach BA, MSc, DPhil

Dr Rebecca Roach

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature

Contact details

Room 227 Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My 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.


  • BA English Language & Literature (University of Oxford)
  • MSc Literature & Modernity: 1900-Present  (University of Edinburgh)
  • DPhil English Literature (University of Oxford)


My teaching and research at the University of Birmingham focuses on contemporary literature. Prior to joining Birmingham I was a postdoctoral research associate at King’s College London, working on the European Research Council-funded project, “Ego-Media: The Impact of New Media on Forms and Practices of Self-Presentation” (2014-2019). Before this I completed a doctorate at the University of Oxford, a Masters at the University of Edinburgh and my undergraduate at the University of Oxford. Despite a very English accent, I was born in the USA and schooled there, Germany and in the British state school system. 


I teach on a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate modules concerning contemporary literature and culture.

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in supervising projects on any aspect of 20th and 21st century literature related to my specific research interests.

Projects I would love to supervise:
How to Do Things with books in Contemporary Britain (or Iceland, or India, or Pitcairn!); publisher’s reject piles; Amazon’s algorithms; Book Tok; computer poetry; literature and the British Council/AHRC/UNESCO; Conservative government policy effects on the arts; Brum literary culture; tech memoirs; modernism’s contemporary afterlives; nonreading; mass writing; the art of editing; methods of World Literature; advice literature; big data approaches to literary culture; Women’s big books; audio books; literary imprints; reader data; born digital literary archives; live literature

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


My research straddles twentieth and twenty-first century Anglophone literatures. I am particularly interested in the relation of literature and literary studies to wider culture. Research interests include digital cultures, life writing, book and media history (including reading communities), transnational modernism and its legacies, the institutionalisation of literary studies, literary and interdisciplinary methodologies, cultural studies.

My first book, Literature and the Rise of the Interview examines the rise of the interview in literary culture and was published by OUP in 2018.

My second research project examines the intersection between literature and computing since WW2 and is organised into two books. The first "Programming Literature", traces the ways in which writers have used and thought with computing historically. The second "Machine Talk" is an intellectual history of how conversation became a key metaphor and model for understanding world literature and computing (a back history of ChatGPT if I am being glib).

This cultural and technological background has led to my role as a PI on the Stuart Hall Archive Project (2023-26) where I will be leading the "Dialogues" strand - designing digital infrastructures to make Stuart Hall's archival papers accessible which respond to his intellectual legacies.

I also write about contemporary literary cultures: I am working on a book entitled The Social Life of Literature and the co-written digital publication, Ego Media, was published with Stanford UP Digital in 2023.

Internally, I am a member of the Humanities & Social Sciences Ethical Review Board, with a particular interest in digital research ethics. Externally, I am on the editorial board of the European Journal of Life Writing and also edit the Modern Section of the Year's Work in English Studies.

Other activities

In addition to academic talks, I have given lectures at the Science Museum, the Library of Congress and been interviewed for the IEEE Spectrum magazine. I have co-curated exhibitions at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House London and, for Emory University Library, Atlanta.

I have a long-standing commitment to widening participation and public engagement and welcome enquires on these fronts.

I am also a member of the HASS Research Ethics Committee.


Highlight publications

Roach, RC 2018, Literature and the rise of the interview. Oxford University Press. <https://global.oup.com/academic/product/literature-and-the-rise-of-the-interview-9780198825418?sortField=8&resultsPerPage=60&view=Grid&facet_narrowbytype_facet=Academic%20Research&lang=en&cc=sa>

Roach, RC 2019, 'J. M. Coetzee’s aesthetic automatism', MFS - Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 65, no. 2, pp. 308-337. https://doi.org/10.1353/mfs.2019.0015

Roach, R 2018, 'Epilepsy, digital technology and the black-boxed self', New Media and Society, vol. 20, no. 8, pp. 2880-2897. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817736926

Bradshaw, D, Marcus, L & Roach, RC (eds) 2016, Moving modernisms: motion, technology, and modernity. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Recent publications


Saunders, M (ed.), Gee, L (ed.), Georgakopoulou, A, Miller, A, Brant, C, Gee, L, Saunders, M, Pers, ML, Kent, R, Roach, R, Gallagher, R & Peeters, S 2023, Ego Media. Stanford University Press. <https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=30954>


Roach, R 2024, 'Generative Transcription: the Interview in post-WW2 Anglophone African Literary Culture', Journal of Postcolonial Writing. <https://www.tandfonline.com/journals/rjpw20>

Roach, R 2023, 'Interview mediations in the classroom', a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 453-458. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989575.2022.2154445

Roach, R 2022, 'Expanding the history of humanities computing: Hugh Kenner’s conversational criticism', Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqac066

Roach, R 2020, 'The role and function of author interviews in the contemporary Anglophone literary field', Book History, vol. 23, pp. 335-364. https://doi.org/10.1353/bh.2020.0009

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Roach, R 2024, Interview mediations in the classroom. in OL Netzer & A Spallacci (eds), Teaching Life Writing: Theory, Methodology, and Practice. 1 edn, Routledge.

Roach, R 2023, Coetzee, Computers and Binary Thinking. in A van der Vlies & L Graham (eds), The Bloomsbury Handbook to J. M. Coetzee. 1 edn, Bloomsbury Academic. <https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/bloomsbury-handbook-to-j-m-coetzee-9781350152052/>

Roach, R 2023, Little Questions: the Interview and Literary Studies. in C Junker (ed.), The Interview: Form, Praxis, Epistemology . De Gruyter.

Roach, R 2020, “Do You Use a Pencil or a Pen?”: Author Interviews as Literary Advice. in A Masschelein & D De Geest (eds), Writing Manuals for the Masses. Palgrave Macmillan.

Digital or Visual Products

Roach, R, Contemporary Literature from the Classroom Podcast Episode, 2024, Digital or Visual Products, Post45.


Roach, R 2024, 'Contemporary Literature From the Classroom: Introduction', Post45.

Review article

Roach, R 2023, 'Annual review of criticism on British fiction 2000-present', The Year's Work in English Studies.

Ross, S, Mourant, C, Fischer, TM, Phillips, J, Parsons, K, Stringfellow, S, RodrÍguez MartÍn, GA, Saunders, G, Richards, J, Quin, J & Roach, R (ed.) 2022, 'XIV Modern Literature', The Year's Work in English Studies, vol. 101, no. 1, pp. 971-1083. https://doi.org/10.1093/ywes/maac014

Ross, S, Bratton, F, Keese, A, Binnie, G, Phillips, J, West, M, Cooper, S, Stringfellow, S, RodrÍguez MartÍn, GA, Saunders, G, Masud, N, Creasy, M, Alonso, A, Quin, J & Roach, R (ed.) 2021, 'XIV Modern Literature', The Year's Work in English Studies, vol. 100, no. 1, pp. 933–1064. https://doi.org/10.1093/ywes/maab014

Special issue

Roach, R (ed.) 2024, 'Contemporaries Cluster: Contemporary Literature from the Classroom', Post45, vol. 2024.

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