Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge FEA, MEA

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, political theory, and history, Human Rights, and Refugee Studies, drawing on the interdisciplinary connections between literature, history, politics, law, and social policy. Her early work was concerned with the 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). Over the past ten years her research has focussed on the creative history of responses to that violence in two awarding-winning books, The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (2011), winner of the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, 2014, and Placeless People: Writing, Rights, and Refugees (2018), winner of the Modernist Studies Association Best Book Prize 2018, and in her recent collection of essays, Writing and Righting: Literature in the Age of Human Rights (2020). 

The work of the twentieth-century political theorist, Hannah Arendt, is central to Professor Stonebridge’s understanding of modern history, violence, statelessness, and judgement. She is currently writing a critical-creative account of the relevance Arendt’s thinking for today, Thinking Like Hannah Arendt, which will be published by Jonathan Cape in 2022.  

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 the collaborative Global Challenges project with refugees and their host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, Refugee Hosts, and with the University of Birmingham’s Rights4Time Global network.

She is a regular media commentator and broadcaster, and has written for The New Statesman, Prospect Magazine. 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. In 2017, she was elected as a Fellow of the English Association, and in 2019 was elected as a member of the Academia Europaea.


  • 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. She also teaches in the Law School. This innovative interdisciplinary 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. 

Postgraduate supervision

• Interdisciplinary Human Rights and Refugee Studies
• Modern, Contemporary, and Postcolonial literatures
• Hannah Arendt and Critical Theory

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 (2020).

Other activities

  • Co-editor, with Allan Hepburn and Adam Piette, Mid-Century Series, Oxford University Press.
  • Member AHRC ODA Peer Review College, MLA Memory Studies Executive.
  • Editorial Boards: Migration and SocietyHumanity: An International Journal of Human RightsHumanitarianism, and DevelopmentHistory: The Journal of the Historical AssociationPsychoanalysis and HistoryFutures of the Archive: Theory, Life and TechnologyEnglish Association Monographs: English at the Interface.


Recent publications


Stonebridge, L 2018, Placeless people: writings, rights, and refugees. Oxford University Press. <>

Stonebridge, L 2011, The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremburg. 1 edn, Edinburgh University Press.


Stonebridge, L 2017, 'Humanitarian was never enough: Dorothy Thompson, Sands of Sorrow and the Arabs of Palestine', Humanity, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 441-465.

Stonebridge, L 2015, 'Statelessness and the Poetry of the Borderline: André Green, W.H. Auden and Yousif M. Qasmiyeh', Textual Practice, vol. 29, no. 7, pp. 1331-1354.

Stonebridge, L 2014, 'The Last of the Just: An Untimely Novel for our Times', European Judaism, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 26-40.

Potter, R & Stonebridge, L 2014, 'Writing and Rights', Critical Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 1-16.

Stonebridge, L 2012, 'Bomby i róże - pismo lęku w Caught Henry 'ego Greena, trans. Mikołaj Wiśniewski', Literatura na Świecie, vol. 03-04/2012 (488-489), pp. 140-168.

Stonebridge, L 2012, 'The Perpetrator Occult: Francis Bacon paints Adolf Eichmann', Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, vol. 17, no. 2-3, pp. 101-120.

Stonebridge, L 2011, 'Refugee Style: Hannah Arendt and the Perplexities of Human Rights', Textual Practice, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 71-85.


Stonebridge, L 2018, The banality of Brexit. in R Eaglestone (ed.), Brexit and Literature. 1 edn, Routledge-Cavendish, pp. 7-14.

Stonebridge, L 2016, ‘Inner Emigration’: On the Run with Hannah Rendt and Anna Freud. in M Ffytche & D Pick (eds), Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism. 1st edn, The New Library of Psychoanalysis 'Beyond the Couch' Series, Routledge-Cavendish, pp. Chapter 4. <>

Stonebridge, L 2014, ‘Hannah Arendt’s Message of Ill-Tidings, Statelessness, Rights and Speech’. in The Future of Testimony. Routledge-Cavendish, pp. 113-128.

Stonebridge, L 2013, 'That which you are denying us': Refugees, Rights and Writing in Arendt. in G Buelens, S Durrant & R Eaglestone (eds), The Future of Trauma Theory. Routledge-Cavendish.

Stonebridge, L 2012, Writing After Nuremberg. in M Rawlinson & A Piette (eds), The Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth-Century British and American War Literature. Edinburgh University Press, pp. 101-10.


Stonebridge, L 2016, '30@30: the future of literary thinking: Education Beyond Metaphor', Textual Practice, vol. 30, no. 7, pp. 1161-1162.

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