The diversity of our research encourages interdisciplinary and collaborative projects within the department and also with colleagues in the Faculty of Arts and other faculties in the university.
Our research groups, primarily period-based with cross-cutting thematic strands, are designed to align with Faculty research centres/groups and University institutes, and to support the development of innovative projects and grant applications. Seven themes and approaches work across the chronological groups to generate innovative research directions and new team projects within and beyond the Department. Combining complementary research strengths, our groups are inclusive and dynamic: each of us belongs to at least one group and many of us belong to more than one.
Convenor: Cathy Hume
Medieval literature has always been a strength at Bristol. Distinctive areas of interest include Arthurian literature and multilingual approaches: our researchers work on literature in French, Welsh and Dutch, for example, as well as English. We are active in the Faculty Centre for Medieval Studies, of which Professor Ad Putter is co-director. Our researchers are particularly interested in the departmental themes of material and digital texts, poetry and poetics, literature and the environment and spatial humanities.
Early Modern to Eighteenth Century
Convenor: Laurence Publicover
The Department of English at Bristol hosts a substantial group of scholars with expertise in the literary culture running between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries (inclusive), including several who investigate the connections between this period and those that precede and follow it. Particular strengths include Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, book history, scholarly editing, Scottish literature, maritime literature, literature and visual culture, and the ‘long eighteenth century’. This group is aligned with the Bristol Common Press and has links with other Faculty groups, especially the Early Modern Studies research group, the Centre for Environmental Humanities, and the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science.
The Long Nineteenth Century
Convenor: Jane Wright
Research in literature of the long nineteenth century typically covers a period from approximately 1789 (the start of the French Revolution) to 1914 (the beginning of World War I). These years include the rise of Romanticism, literary experiments of the 1820s and 30s (between high Romanticism and the Victorian period), Victorian literature, Decadence and the 1890s, Edwardian literature, and the early years of Modernism. The Department’s literary-critical and scholarly research in this field is rich and diverse; colleagues collectively take a range of formalist, historicist, cultural material, and theoretical approaches to poetry, fictional and non-fictional prose, across literature from Britain, Europe, India, and America. The research covers an equally wide array of topics, including but not limited to: literary form, genre, composition, the rise of the novel, classical reception, posterity and literary afterlives, literature and art (painting, sculpture, architecture), religion and religious dissent, evolutionary theory, the environment and ecology, queer writing, colonialism and empire, slavery, crime writing, literary technologies, the Gothic, and the periodical press. Several colleagues working in this field have edited or are editing major editions of literary works.
Modern and Contemporary
Convenor: Theo Savvas
The Modern and Contemporary Research Grouping includes members whose interests range widely across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We have experts on poetry and poetics, the novel form, experimental writing, American writing, postcolonial writing, ecological writing and the medical humanities. For more specific information, please see the author biographies below.
Literatures of the Global South
Convenors: Madhu Krishnan and Florian Stadtler
This substantial research group covers cultural production from the Global South and its diasporas with wide-ranging expertise in literatures of the African Continent, the Caribbean and South Asia, as well as in studies of the Indian Ocean and Black Atlantic. This cluster is particularly focused on the politics of visibility and diverse ecologies of cultural and knowledge production in the Global South and their wider circulation. With an interdisciplinary, archival, transhistorical and transnational focus, this geographically diverse research grouping is active across several Faculty Research Centres, including the Centre for Black Humanities, Centre for Environmental Humanities, and Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB).
Creative Writing and Creative Practice
Convenor: Joanna Nadin
Creative Writing is a rapidly growing area of expertise, led by internationally recognised practising authors with strong publishing networks who specialise in long and short form fiction and poetry, writing for young people, creative non-fiction and literary criticism. This group explores the theory, practice and pedagogy of creative writing and the relationships between writers, readers, and the cultural industries. Members are active in public engagement and outreach, and interdisciplinary collaboration. They work particularly with the Faculty’s Centre for Environmental Humanities and Centre for Creative Technologies and members contribute to leading the Bristol Poetry Institute.
Themes and approaches
Material and Digital Texts
Convenor: Jenny Batt
The department is home to much significant work in the study of Material and Digital Texts, spanning from medieval studies to twenty-first century global cultures of the book. We have particular strengths in textual editing; the history of the book; reception history; and digital humanities. Several members of the department play a leading role in running Bristol Common Press.
Poetry and poetics
Convenor: William Wootten
Poetry and Poetics is a traditional strength of the English Department at Bristol (past members of the Department have included celebrated poets and critics such as Charles Tomlinson and Sir Christopher Ricks). Members of the Poetry and Poetics Research Group include critics, scholars and theorists of poetry from the Renaissance to the present as well as practising poets. The group is interested in historical and contemporary poetic theory and practice, in poetry criticism, and in the issues, intellectual debates and social and environmental forces that situate and influence poetry and its study. Individual members take part in poetry readings and in public talks and discussions about poetry, and are actively involved in the work of the Bristol Poetry Institute.
Literature, Science and Medical Humanities
Convenor: Ulrika Maude
This group has a wide range of interests that reflect the intellectual inventiveness and vibrancy of literature, science and the medical humanities. Approaches range from epigenetics, suicide, trauma, and grief to affect, non-normative vision, disability studies and ageing. The group’s interests cover a range of different periods, genres and theoretical approaches, from Renaissance Drama, Romantic Poetry and Modernist prose to history of the novel, black British and Caribbean writing, AIDS writing, graphic medicine, and philosophies of embodiment.
Literature and the Environment
Convenor: Michael Malay
We are interested in a range of themes and subjects, including animal studies, ecocriticism, ecofeminism, poetic representations of the natural world, the intersections between race and the environment, science and literature, and the blue humanities. Our group comprises both scholars and creative practitioners, and we are aligned with various research centres, including the Centre for Environmental Humanities, the Centre for Health, Humanities and Science, and Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB).
Convenor: Helen Fulton
Spatial Humanities is a Humanities-led approach to issues of space, place and identity. Topographical, geographical, and cartographical concepts are used to inform explorations of human interactions with space and place, represented through literary, historical, scientific, and visual texts. The ‘spatial turn’ defamiliarises space and place, documenting different types of spatial experience, the relationships between place, power, and identity, territoriality and its conflicts, and the social construction of space. Methodologies in the Spatial Humanities include literary criticism, sociolinguistic and semiotic analysis, cultural geography, historical and archival research, the study of maps, and digital technologies such as GIS. For literary critics and literary historians, the Spatial Humanities offer a rich field of theorised and technical approaches to texts, enabling us to consider literary production in the context of spatial experience.
Research areas belonging to the theme of Spatial Humanities include, but are not limited to:
• Landscape and topography
• Seascapes and oceans
• Borders, regions, nations
• Cities and neighbourhoods
• Maps and visualisations of space
• Tourism and heritage
• Sociability and displacement
Gender and Sexuality
Convenor: Rowena Kennedy-Epstein
The department is home to significant interdisciplinary research in the study of Gender and Sexuality, particularly in transhistorical and transnational contexts. We have strengths in feminist theory and women’s writing, queer studies, LGBQT history and activism, as well as work in gender as it intersects with medical humanities, affect theory, multimodality, archives and editing, poetry and poetics, print culture and magazines, life writing, biography, race and nation.
Race and Ethnicity
Convenor: Tara Puri
Research on race and ethnicity is one of the strengths of the department, and spans literature from the 18th century to the contemporary moment. Colleagues specialize in literatures of the African continent, the Caribbean, and South Asia, as well African American and Black and South Asian writing in Britain. Several members play a significant role in the Centre for Black Humanities and are also part of the Literatures of the Global South Research Group.