With over fourteen members of staff working in the area of modern and contemporary writing, this group includes a wide range of research interests. We have established research strengths in modernist literature and culture, twentieth century and contemporary poetry and prose, and critical theory. Our work on twentieth century and twenty-first century literature and culture has crystallized around a number of shared interests, including work on the philosophical and cognitive life of the poem, literature and freedom of expression, transnational literary networks and the politics of fiction.
Professor Rachel Potter (research group lead) writes on modernist literature and early twentieth century culture, literature and censorship, and free expression and writers’ organisations. Her books include Obscene Modernism: Literary Censorship and Experiment 1900-1940 (OUP, 2013), The Edinburgh Introduction to Modernism (EUP, 2012), Modernism and Democracy: Literary Culture 1900-1930 (OUP, 2006), and the co-edited Salt Companion to Mina Loy (2010). She is currently completing a book on literature, the writers’ organisation, International P.E.N. and free expression 1921-1948 and leading a four-year AHRC-funded project on international writers’ organisations, literature and free expression 1921-present day.
Dr Stephen Benson works on modern and contemporary literature, with a particular interest in relations between literature and music, and between literature and the visual arts. His publications include Cycles of Influence: Fiction, Folktale, Theory (Wayne State UP, 2003) and Literary Music (Ashgate, 2006), and as co-editor, Writing the Field Recording: Sound, Word, Environment (EUP, 2018). He is also the co-editor, with UEA colleague Clare Connors, of Creative Criticism: an Anthology and Guide (EUP, 2014), a volume devoted to forms of invention in contemporary critical practice. Most recently, and prompted by the anthology, he has been working on the theory and practice of description in contemporary literature.
Dr Clare Connors is interested in literature, deconstruction and creative criticism - and in the interrelations between these. She is the author of Force from Nietzsche to Derrida (Legenda, 2010) and Literary Theory: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2010) and the co-editor, with Dr. Stephen Benson, of Creative Criticism: An Anthology and Guide (EUP, 2014). She is interested in the kinds of thinking literature performs, and permits, and in the kinds of critical writing such fictive thinking solicits. On all of these subjects she finds the work of Jacques Derrida the most extraordinary resource (along with that of Freud, Heidegger, Cixous, Ranciere and Sedgwick, amongst others). She has written essays on rhythm, on rhyme and on grace, and on Elizabeth Bowen, J. M. Coetzee and Ali Smith.
Dr Katherine Cooper is interested in how ideas about war, nation and Europe intersect in the literature of the twentieth century. She is currently working on a book about British writers helping refugees to escape Europe during World War Two. Her previous work looks at how women write war, with particular focus on the Yorkshire novelist Margaret Storm Jameson.
Professor Alison Donnell is currently leading a 4-year research project on Caribbean Literary Heritage funded by the Leverhulme Trust. She is also General Editor of Caribbean Literature in Transition, 1800-2015, a three-volume publication for Cambridge University Press (2020). Her recent publications include a special double issue of Caribbean Quarterly on ‘Caribbean Literary Archives’ and Caribbean Irish Connections: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (co-edited with Evelyn O’Callaghan and Maria McGarrity). She is completing a monograph Caribbean Queer: culturequeer belongings, sexual plurality and the literary and a collection of Caribbean women’s fiction 1920-1970.
Dr Thomas Karshan writes about modernist and post-1945 writers in Britain, Europe and America, with a focus on nonsense, play, ambiguity, and theoretical questions arising from modernism. His recent publications include Vladimir Nabokov and the Art of Play (2011), as well as his edition of Nabokov's Collected Poems and his co-translation of Nabokov's Tragedy of Mister Morn (both 2012). He is currently working on two books entitled Undelivered Letters and A Dictionary of Modern Life, and is co-editing a history of the literary essay from Montaigne to the present.
Professor Anshuman Mondal’s current research interests focus on liberal free speech theory, the ethics of responsiveness and modes of intercultural communication, and literary controversy. He is also working on a project on the links between liberal conceptions of freedom and colonial governmentality, as mediated through the work of liberal critics of Empire, in particular George Orwell, E.M Forster Leonard Woolf and Edward Thompson. Finally, he is also working on a series of essays on contemporary discourses of liberty and tolerance.
Dr Jeremy Noel-Tod's research is interested in the history and form of modernist and contemporary poetry. His poetry criticism has been widely published, and includes The Whitsun Wedding Video: A Journey into British Poetry (2015). He has also edited The Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry (2013), R.F. Langley's Complete Poems (2015) and The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem (forthcoming, 2018). His current project is a history of the prose poem in Britain and Ireland.
Dr David Nowell-Smith’s work is focused on philosophical poetics, and he has written two monographs in that field: Sounding/Silence: Martin Heidegger at the Limits of Poetics (Fordham UP, 2013) and On Voice in Poetry: The Work of Animation (Palgrave, 2015). In addition to this, he co-edited the volume Modernist Legacies: Trends and Faultlines in British Poetry Today (Palgrave, 2015), and is currently working on a study of the Scottish poet WS Graham.
Dr Petra Rau writes about the cultural ramifications of military conflict, Anglo-German relations, and the history of travel and migration. Her most recent books are Our Nazis: Representations of Fascism in Contemporary Literature and Film (2013) and Lond Shadows: The Second World War in British Fiction and Film (2016). She is currently working on a family memoir entitled A Journey of Giraffes, and on a British Academy funded monograph about flight and expulsion in postwar German literature and film.
Professor Denise Riley’s research interests include the philosophy of language [broadly speaking] and historical conceptions of interior being, including the work of the German Idealist philosophers. Her books are War in the Nursery: Theories of the Child and Mother , ‘Am I That Name?’ Feminism and the Category of 'Women' in History , The Words of Selves: Identification, Solidarity, Irony (2000), The Force of Language (with Jean- Jacques Lecercle; 2004), Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect (2005) and Time Lived, Without Its Flow . Her poetry collections include Marxism for Infants (1977), Dry Air (1985), Mop Mop Georgette (1993), Penguin Modern Poets series 2, vol 10 (with Douglas Oliver and Iain Sinclair; 1996), Selected Poems (2000), Say Something Back (2016) and Penguin Modern Poets series 3, vol 6 [with Maggie Nelson and Claudia Rankine; 2017].
Dr Jos Smith works on contemporary literature, ecocriticism, literary geographies and archives. He is the author of The New Nature Writing: Rethinking the Literature of Place and is a co-editor of the volume of essays Coastal Works: Cultures of the Atlantic Edge. More recently, he has been working on a cultural history of the arts and environmental charity Common Ground whose championing of diverse cultures of local distinctiveness across the UK, and further afield, has had a far reaching influence on the way we understand regional cultures today. He has a longstanding interest in archipelagic criticism and is on the advisory board of the Atlantic Archipelagos Research Consortium. He also published a first collection of poetry, Subterranea, in 2016 with Arc.
Dr Kirstin Smith researched the emergence of stunts in the public life of New York at the turn of twentieth century for her doctoral dissertation. Her essay on a durational walking contest won The Drama Review student essay contest, and her article about bridge-jumpers was shortlisted for the British Association for Modernist Studies essay prize for early career scholars. She has also published on cycling, electricity and high-wire stunts in Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film. Kirstin is now working on a history of the practice and ethics of casting, with a particular focus on women in casting. Alongside scholarly research, Kirstin writes fiction and her philosophical novel, Confidence, co-written with Rowland Manthorpe, was published by Bloomsbury in 2016.
Dr Matthew Taunton works on twentieth-century literature, culture and politics. He is currently co-editing A History of 1930s British Literature (CUP) with Benjamin Kohlmann, and finishing a book called Red Britain: Writing the Russian Revolution in Mid-Century Culture (OUP), which explores the cultural resonances of the Russian Revolution in Britain. He is also interested in cities: his first book, Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in London and Paris (Palgrave, 2009) investigates literary and cinematic responses to the development of mass housing in London and Paris.
Dr Nonia Williams researches intersections between twentieth century experimental aesthetics, gender and critical theory. Her forthcoming edited collection, British Avant-Garde Fiction of the 1960s (EUP, 2018), seeks to intervene in the resurgence of interest in this literary period. She is currently writing on playfulness and cliché in Ann Quin and the gendering of experimental writing in the post-WWII era.