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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

I graduated with a BA in English Language and English Literature and then went on to undertake my postgraduate studies at London Metropolitan University, receiving an MA with Distinction in Literature and Modernity. I completed my PhD in 2010 at Kingston University (fully-funded by the ORSAS scholarship). I taught at Kingston University (2007-2011) before joining the Literature team at Brighton in 2012. I was a Course Leader for the BA in English Language and Literature (2016-2020), the Academic Programme Leader for English Literature, Media and Creative Writing UG and PG courses (2017-2020), the University's Academic Lead for Decolonising the Curriculum, and co-chair of the School of Humanities Equalities Committee (2020-2021). I am a co-founder, with Dr Vy Rajapillai, of the student-staff DeCol Collective, where we continue our grassroots and ongoing decolonisation activities and events https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/decolonisingatfalmer/. I am currently a Principal Lecturer in Literature and Inclusive Practice co-Lead (with Dr Heba Youssef).

I teach on all levels of the BA (Hons) English Literature and the joint honours undergraduate programmes in Literature, Creative Writing and Media, and on the MA Contemporary Literatures. My specialist modules include Writing Black Britain (M level), Queer Writings, Writing the Contemporary and European Literatures and Film.

Research interests

My reseach interests are in contemporary literature and culture, most specifically in Black British and post-communist/'Eastern European' writing. Recent publications in these areas include 'Eastern Europeans and BrexLit' (JPW Special Issue Writing Brexit: Colonial Remains), 'Redressing Racist Legacies in the Melancholic Nation: Anger and Silences in Andrea Levy’s Fruit of the Lemon' (Special In Memoriam Issue of Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, ed. by Henghameh Saroukhani, Sarah Lawson-Welsh and Michael Perfect). 

My 2019 monograph - the first book about the representations of 'Eastern European' migrants in contemporary British literature and culture - provides a comprehensive study of this 'wave' of migration to the UK and Western Europe following the enlargement of the EU in the 21st century, the social and political changes after the fall of communism, and the Brexit vote. It explores the recurring figures of 'Eastern Europeans' as a new reservoir of cheap labour in multiple contemporary cultural texts:

https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137537911#aboutBook

My recent activities have been focused on building long-lasting community partnerships, most notably with New Writing South (acting as one of their Trustees), Marlborough Productions and The Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence (Sussex University) through our co-organisation and co-curation of the The Coast is Queer, UK's biggest LGBTQIA+ literature festival https://coastisqueer.com/, Afrori Books (through book clubs and AHRC Ignite projects) https://afroribooks.co.uk/, and the Brighton Book Festival (as core team member) /https://www.brightonbookfestival.co.uk/.

Recent Funded Projects

'Reading to Resist, Reading to Belong: A Space for Black Writing'- community partnership project with Afrori and Diversity Lewes (funded by AHRC Ignite) explores how the bookshop acts as a space of community and belonging and what the act of reading Black Literature in Brighton means in terms of anti-racist practice, resistance, and representation, as well as how it can promote wellbeing, pleasure and joy in an increasingly hostile environment for racialised communities. Details of the project can be found here: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/decolonisingatfalmer/reading-to-resist-reading-to-belong-community-university-partnership/. The title of the project was inspired by Prof Suzanne Scafe's talk for the DeCol Collective: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/decolonisingatfalmer/reading-to-resist-the-disruptive-potential-of-black-british-literature/

Cartography of the Political Novel in Europe (CAPONEU) (EU Horizon, co-I) - aims to assess the political novel as an important element of European political, social and cultural heritage. It sets out to examine how people in different national and cultural contexts engage with contemporary political issues and thereby have their share in shaping European societies and politics. More about the project: https://www.caponeu.eu/

Recent events/projects/conferences

An interview with Monique Roffey for the Big Read Event: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/bigread/2021/03/31/2021-monique-roffey/

Queer Writers from the Post-Yugoslav region, The Coast is Queer Festival, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gilVnrAl-pU&t=79s

Within the Four Walls: Queer Lockdown Stories Project, 1-4:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwaC7xY_pro&t=77s (with Juno Roche, Nehaal Bajwa, Mikey Birtwistle and Zia X)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqfyzLnKDq4&t=59s (with Annie Whilby – AFLO. the poet, Nat Raha, Razan Ghazzawi and Savannah Sevenzo)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIcC59HnC7E&t=116s (with Tanaka Mhishi, Daniel Spelman, Jane Traies and Subira Wahogo)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8V0E0RXD9s&t=4s

(with: Sea Sharp, John McCullough, Ray Filar and Roxana Xamán).

Common Threads: Black and Asian British Women's Writing International  Conference, Keynote Speakers: Bernardine Evaristo, Sharon Duggal, Louisa Uchum Egbunike, University of Brighton, 21-23 July 2022 (co-organised with Prof Suzanne Scafe, Dr Kadija George and Dr Sarah Lawson-Welsh) https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/decolonisingatfalmer/common-threads-black-and-asian-british-womens-writing-international-conference/. 

See The Amplify Project podcast about the 2022 conference here: https://theamplifyproject.co.uk/writers/common-threads-black-and-asian-british-womens-writing-international-conference-2022/

Black British Women's Writing: Tracing the Tradition and New Directions, First International Conference of the Black British Women's Writers Network (BBWWN, https://www.facebook.com/groups/Black-British-Women%27s-Writing-Network-378188258946761/), Keynote Speaker: Bernardine Evaristo, University of Brighton July 2014

Videos from the conference:

Valerie Mason-John: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZYzQOJSbXk

Dorothea Smartt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZDN5f4u8x4

Supervisory Interests

I would be happy to talk to students about PhD projects in contemporary literature, cultural and queer studies.

Specific areas might include:

  • Black British Literature and Culture
  • BrexLit
  • European Literature
  • Postcolonialism
  • Postcommunism
  • Literary and media representations of migration and specifically 'Eastern European' migration
  • LGBTQIA+ Literature

My current supervision includes the following PhD projects:

(COMPLETED) Kadija George, Raising the voice and visibility of independent Black publishers (TECHNE-funded) http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/techne/for-students/techne-students/techne-students/techne-students-2016/george

Najma Yusufi, "Leave To Remain” (novel) and Hybridity in British Asian writing post-Brexit, https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/persons/najma-yusufi

Amanda Holiday, 'Poetry, Race and Art' (TECHNE-funded), https://research.brighton.ac.uk/en/persons/amanda-holiday

Veneta Neale, 'This is our History: Diasporic Feminist Black British History'.

Hanna Komar (TECHNE-funded), 'Supporting Belarusian women to share experiences of gender-based violence and patriarchy using poetry: an autoethnographic approach' 

 

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