Our Research Interests

The Centre for Contemporary Literature was established in recognition of the amount of work going on in this field here at Birkbeck. This includes the work of creative writers who regularly publish novels and short stories and enjoy successful productions of new plays in the theatre. It also includes the work in criticism and cultural history being produced by other academic staff, and the frequent conferences, symposia and seminars held here on contemporary writing and culture.

Our approach to the definition of the Contemporary period, and what its major themes might be, is pragmatic and open-minded. We are aware that the temporal borders of the contemporary period are constantly debated and contested. Caroline Edwards researches the relationship between utopian imaginaries and contemporary literature and culture, examining speculative and science fictional futures in response to environmental catastrophe in novels, films, graphic fiction, avant-garde music and contemporary sculpture. Joseph Brooker has published on the 1980s, exploring one set of foundations for the culture of the present, and has published research on a number of contemporary British and American writers, including Jonathan Letham, Alan Hollinghurst, David Peace and David Mitchell. Martin Paul Eve works on contemporary British and American fiction, histories and mutations in publishing practice in the digital age, and scholarly communications. Anna Hartnell specializes in American culture, notably the politics of race and religion, up to and including the Obama era; meanwhile, Mpalive Msiska works on East African studies, postcolonial theory, diasporic identities and Black metropolitan writing. Roger Luckhurst has researched widely across such fields as trauma, London writing, gothic and science fiction, demonstrating how each of these optics can show us something about the present. Grace Halden writes about representations and theories of science, technology and the human, and her forthcoming monograph focuses on the depiction of nuclear power in American popular culture. Agnes Woolley has research interests in contemporary and postcolonial literature and culture, most recently with a focus on concepts of migration and diaspora in contemporary Britain. Louise Owen researches site-specific performance, post-feminism, and contemporary neoliberalism and the response to the 2007-8 financial crisis by socially-engaged community-based performance; while the work of Joanne Winning considers science and the body in the emerging field of Medical Humanities.

An indicative list of research interests involved in the Centre includes:

    ▪    Contemporary Poetry and Poetics
    ▪    Contemporary Theatre and Performance
    ▪    Contemporary British Fiction
    ▪    Contemporary US Fiction
    ▪    Science Fiction
    ▪    Gothic Revivals
    ▪    Legacies of Modernism
    ▪    Representations of Neurology
    ▪    Medicine and Medical Humanities
    ▪    Postcolonial Writing
    ▪    Black British Writing
    ▪    Representations of War
    ▪    Representations of Hurricane Katrina
    ▪    Thatcherism & Culture
    ▪    Writing London
    ▪    Culture in the Digital Era
    ▪    Film, Television
    ▪    Photography & Visual Art
    ▪    Comic Books & Graphic Novels


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