Dr Fariha Shaikh

Dr Fariha Shaikh

Department of English Literature
Associate Professor in Victorian Literature

Contact details

Department of English Literature
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My research focusses on the relationship between the British Empire and Victorian Literature, with specialist interests in migration, settler colonialism, memory and textual and material culture. I have further interests in decolonisation, museums, literature and the visual arts. I teach and work on a wide range of nineteenth-century and neo-Victorian literatures, with an emphasis on decolonial and postcolonial approaches. I am a BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker.


  • BA (QMUL)
  • MA (Kings College London)
  • PhD (King’s College London)
  • AKC (King’s College London)


I came to Birmingham in 2017, following a two-year Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at University College Dublin. My postdoc gave me the time and resources I needed to publish my first monograph, Nineteenth-Century Settler Emigration in British Literature and Art with Edinburgh University Press in 2018. During the postdoctoral fellowship, I was also seconded to the Irish Research Council, where I gained valuable insight into the research landscape of Ireland. I received my PhD from King’s College London, where I also completed the Associateship of King’s College, the institution’s original award dating back to its foundation in 1829. My undergraduate years were spent at Queen Mary, University of London.  


I teach across the nineteenth century and on postcolonial courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome proposals from students around the world which focus on the long nineteenth century, world literature, migration, textual and material culture, mobilities, race and racial science, decolonisation, postcolonial Victorians/neo-Victorians.

I have supervised projects on race, affect and emotions in eighteenth-century abolition literature, on the New Woman in vernacular (Kannada) South Indian literature, and on women novelists in the Victorian and late-Ottoman eras.

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


Broadly speaking, I am a scholar of Victorian literature and culture, and its intersections with the British Empire. My first project examined the ways in which nineteenth-century settler colonialism can be understood as a textual artefact: examining the huge textual output that was necessary to promote and support settler colonial emigration to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, my book proposes the emergence of a new genre of ‘emigration literature’ in the nineteenth century.

My current work focusses on what we mean by ‘global’ Victorians and the remit of ‘world literature’. I am interested in uncovering marginal and lesser-studied voices from Britain and its in/formal colonies to demonstrate the ways in which Britain’s multifarious experiments in in/formal empires in the nineteenth century impacted the formation and development of literature, and the legacies that these tensions have left behind today. I am interested in comparative, postcolonial and decolonial approaches to the study of the period, and these approaches inform my teaching too.

I have a passion for disseminating my research and knowledge of the nineteenth century to a broader public. I have worked with the National Trust and the Migration Museum, taken part in the Being Human Festival, and appeared on television (BBC Two and Channel 4) and on radio (BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4). I am a BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker.

I have published in the Journal of Victorian Literature, and English Studies in South Africa, and have contributed to Worlding the South (Manchester University Press, 2021), and Palgrave Encyclopaedia of Victorian Women’s Writing (2020). I have work forthcoming in Intersections (forthcoming 2024), Edinburgh Companion to British Colonial Periodicals (forthcoming 2024), and Bloomsbury’s Cultural History of Violence in the Age of Empire (forthcoming 2024), amongst others. I am the co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Global Victorian Literature and Culture (forthcoming 2025), and the current co-editor of the CUP-owned journal Victorian Literature and Culture



I have appeared on a range of different cultural programmes, some of which are listed below. 


BBC Radio 3/AHRC New Generation Thinker 2021:

  • Free Thinking, ‘Introducing NGTs 2021’ (March 2021)
  • Arts and Ideas, Postcard on ‘Displacement’ (June 2021)
  • ‘The Verb: Puddings’ (October 2021)
  • Free Thinking, ‘Opium Tales’ (May 2022)

BBC Radio 4

  • ‘Teaching Novels’, episode 2 of three-part series, Pride and Prejudice: The Way We Read Now (January 2022)


  • BBC Two Centenary Series, The Making of Us, Episode Six (2022)
  • Channel 4, Britain’s Most Historic Towns: Manchester, (2021)
  • BBC Two, Novels that Shaped the World, Episodes Two and Three: Empire and Class (2019)


  • Migration Museum, ‘The Leaving of Liverpool’, Episode Five (2020)