Dr Asha Rogers BA, MA (Sheffield), DPhil (Oxon)

Photograph of Dr Asha Rogers

Department of English Literature
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Postcolonial Literature

Contact details

Arts Building, Room 111
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a scholar of twentieth and twenty-first century literature. I research the culture-forming work of institutions as forces in literary history, and how writers have responded to their frequently peculiar demands. 


  • BA English Literature (University of Sheffield)
  • MA English Literature (University of Sheffield)
  • DPhil English Literature (University of Oxford)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


I am a South Londoner of dual heritage, educated in the comprehensive system. I studied English Literature at the University of Sheffield and went on to write a doctoral thesis on the global phenomenon of post-1945 state literary sponsorship at St Anne's College at Oxford, supervised by Peter D. McDonald, where I spent three happy years in archives. I arrived at Birmingham in 2016, after a year teaching postcolonial and global literatures at Queen Mary University of London.

At Birmingham I have expanded the teaching of postcolonial, global and Black British texts and contexts, including teaching with the BBC Caribbean Voices and Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies archives held at the Cadbury Research Library. With students and colleagues I have co-curated the Uncovering Hidden Histories project at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts with the poet Dzifa Benson - read the project’s ‘alternative labels’ here - and Stuart Hall's Archive: A Symposium to mark the arrival of Hall's archive at the University. 



I teach anglophone writing across the twenty and twenty-first centuries, including modules in postcolonial and global literatures. I was nominated for a College of Arts and Law Outstanding Teaching Award in 2019.

Postgraduate supervision

I would be interested to supervise research projects on literature and the modern state, literature and cultural institutions, state sponsorship and protection, and the history of education.


I research the culture-forming work of institutions and how writers in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have responded to their often strange demands. I am particularly interested in nuancing how we think about the state as a cultural actor by centring the inner conflicts and unexpected consequences of state action. I centre archival methodologies in my research. 

State Sponsored Literature

My AHRC-funded PhD thesis, Officially Autonomous: Anglophone Literary Cultures and the State since 1945 examined how the modern state sought to protect literary culture from the economic demands of the market after WWII by entering the literary field through organisations the Arts Council and Cold War-era Congress for Cultural Freedom. 

My book State Sponsored Literature: Britain and Cultural Diversity after 1945 (OUP, 2020) is an in depth study of the British state’s involvement in the literary world. Addressing over 100 primary sources from 10 major public archives, State Sponsored Literature not only shows the extent of state-literary activity in foreign policy, education, and free expression. It also suggests this intervention was determined by the changing publics for literature after empire. It won the 2021 University English Book Prize, the judges noting that ‘the subject needs an approach which can encompass its labyrinthine, complex and contradictory impulses and expressions, and receives it here’. You can listen to me discuss it on the New Books Network podcast.

statesponsoredliterature.com makes publicly accessible some of the materials I used, including: databases of state literary gatekeepers, writer profiles, multimedia resources including a discussion of the book. Please feel free to contact me if you require assistance with accessing it.

Linguistic imperialism, or diversity in a colonial context?

This project explores official literary protection from a different direction: by examining how and why colonial-era state, missionary and publishing institutions acted as guardians of indigenous languages against European domination. This project initiaties a deeper historical understanding of contemporary international debates about linguistic diversity, imperialism and language rights, showing how these ideas unfolded, often dubiously, in the early twentieth century. My research focuses on Britain and former colonies in West and East Africa, with a pilot funded by the Willison Foundation Charitable Trust.

Literary education after empire

I am also working on a comparative history of syllabus reform in national education in Britain and Kenya, focusing on the introduction of African and Caribbean literature in external examinations in the 1970s and 1980s. Amid current debates about decolonizing curricula, positionality, the place literary education in a multi-ethnic state, and increasing centralization in education, these histories remind us that the political stakes of literary study after empire have always been high because school education is a matter of state.

I also have published on the Africa-based activities and magazines of the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom in the 1960s, and was an advisor for ‘Black Orpheus: Jacob Lawrence and the Mbari Club’ at the Chrysler Museum of Modern Arts.  


Highlight publications

Rogers, A 2020, State Sponsored Literature: Britain and Cultural Diversity after 1945. Oxford English Monographs, Oxford University Press, Oxford. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198857761.001.0001

Recent publications


Rogers, A, Boehmer, E, Kunstmann, R & Mukhopadhyay, P (eds) 2017, The Global Histories of Books: Methods and Practices. New Directions in Book History, Palgrave Macmillan.


Rogers, A 2024, 'Eng. Lit after empire: the political stakes of public goods', The Journal of Commonwealth Literature.

Rogers, A 2020, 'The literary archives of experience: Richard Rive’s Oxford Library', The Cambridge Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 3, pp. 252–270. https://doi.org/10.1093/camqtly/bfaa015

Rogers, A 2015, 'Crossing 'other cultures'? Reading Tatamkhulu Afrika's 'Nothing's Changed' in the NEAB Anthology', English in Education, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 80-93. https://doi.org/10.1111/eie.12060

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Rogers, A 2022, The Transcription Centre and the Coproduction of African Literary Culture in the 1960s. in G Barnhisel (ed.), The Bloomsbury Handbook to Cold War Literary Cultures. Bloomsbury Handbooks, Bloomsbury Academic.

Rogers, A 2017, Black Orpheus and the African magazines of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. in G Scott-Smith & CA Lerg (eds), Campaigning Culture and the Global Cold War: : The Journals of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 243-259. <http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137598660>

Rogers, A 2017, Culture in transition: Rajat Neogy’s transition (1961–1968) and the decolonization of African literature. in D Davies, E Lombard & B Mountford (eds), Fighting Words: Fifteen Books that Shaped the Postcolonial World. 1st edn, Race and Resistance Across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century, vol. 1, Peter Lang, pp. 183-199. https://doi.org/10.3726/b13185

Rogers, A, Boehmer, E, Mukhopadhay, P & Kunstmann, R 2017, Introduction. in E Boehmer, R Kunstmann, P Mukhopadhyay & A Rogers (eds), The Global Histories of Books: Methods and Practices. New Directions in Book History, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-20.

Review article

Rogers, A 2020, 'The Dead Ends of Decolonization, or Faith in the Literary?', Contemporary Literature, pp. 118-126.

View all publications in research portal