Rhona Jamieson, Girton

Degree: PhD
Course: English
Supervisor: Dr Sarah Dillon
Dissertation Title:

Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary British Fiction: The Mediation of Rebellion and Trust


Biographical Information

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge, Girton College, before moving to the University of Oxford, with a Crewe Graduate Scholarship from Lincoln College, to study my MSt. I am now back at Girton College, with college funding, and in the second year of my PhD, supervised by Prof. Sarah Dillon.

I am a convener of the Faculty's Twentieth Century and Contemporary Graduate Research Seminar. I have also founded and now convene the 'Critical Practicism' reading group, started in response to Rita Felski's 2021 Clark Lectures for Trinity College. The group explores questions related to critical 'use', 'function' and 'practicality' (including but not limited to our own 'Practical Criticism'), and the relationship between the literary academy and wider society. 

I am also lead-convener of the upcoming CRASSH and Faculty-funded conference, 'The Functions of Criticism' (dates and keynotes tbc). 

Research Interests

My research examines various manifestations of conspiracy theory across a selection of post-millennium novels by British writers. I am investigating the interplay between the individual suspicion of the believer of conspiracy theories, and the communal nature of knowledge, while attending to a period increasingly pervaded by concerns regarding both trust in scientific expertise, and the impact of digital platforms on the dissemination of verifiable knowledge. I am interested in how the contemporary novel places conspiracy theories within a textual context in which they can be better understood in relation to communal structures of knowledge and behaviours that exhibit trust as a prerequisite of communication. I am exploring the use of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s later writings as a productive framework for the analysis of conspiracy theories, specifically his attention to the social nature of language, and the relationship between trust and certainty. Some novelists of particular interest are David Mitchell, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Hari Kunzru and Tom McCarthy.

Areas of Supervision

I supervise undergraduates for Part I Paper 7B, English Literature and its Contexts 1870-Present, and Part II Paper 12, Contemporary Writing. I also supervise dissertations on contemporary novelists.