There is a thriving community of academics and graduate students based at the University of Cambridge who work on contemporary texts:
Jenny Bavidge is academic director for part-time and extramural courses in English at the University’s Institute for Continuing Education and is a Fellow of Murray Edwards College. Her teaching and research interests lie particularly in contemporary urban writing, ecocriticism, and childhood. She is involved in the Mst in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge Institute for Continuing Education
Kasia Boddy is a lecturer in American literature and a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College. She is the author of Boxing: A Cultural History (2008), The American Short Story Since 1950 (2011) and Geranium (2013). She works mainly on American fiction and cultural history from the nineteenth century to the present. Although she sometimes write on film and other art forms, much of her work focuses on fiction. She is particularly interested in the relationship between long and short forms, as well as forms (such the anthology) that mediate between them.
Steve Connor is Grace 2 Professor of English Literature. He works on the literature and culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though many of his projects have a longer historical contour. His areas of interest include magical thinking; the history of medicine; the cultural life of objects and the material imagination; the relations between culture and science; the philosophy of animals; literature and mathematics; and the history of sound, voice and auditory media. He has also written extensively on contemporary art for Cabinet, Tate Etc, Modern Painters and others, and broadcasts regularly for radio.
Sarah Dillon is University Lecturer in Literature and Film. She works in the interstices between literature, film and philosophy, specialising in late-twentieth and twenty-first century British and North American fiction and film, and modern continental philosophy. She is the author of The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory (2007) and has published edited collections on contemporary authors David Mitchell and Maggie Gee. Thematically, her work ranges across queer, feminist and ecocritical fields of concern, including questions of intimacy, love, gender, sexuality, and our relationship to the other (be it the human, animal, object or environmental other). Sarah was a 2013 BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker and now broadcasts regularly on the BBC.
Mina Gorji teaches poetry at the English Faculty. Her current research focuses on listening to the natural world in poetry from the Romantics to the present day, including contemporary poets such as Alice Oswald, Kathleen Jamie, Ishion Hutchinson and Seán Hewitt. Her book explores how and why poets listen to the natural world and opens up new ways of thinking about how we experience poetry and about the environment, and our aural relationship with the natural world. She co-convenes a research group on Auralities at CRASSH which explores listening in art, music, film, anthropology and poetry.
Alex Houen is University Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature and a Fellow of Pembroke College. His books include Terrorism and Modern Literature, from Joseph Conrad to Ciaran Carson (2002), and Powers of Possibility: Experimental American Writing since the 1960s (2011). He is co-editor of Blackbox Manifold, an online poetry journal.
Sarah Kennedy is a Fellow of Downing College. She works on modernist and contemporary Anglophone poetry. Her research interests include metaphor, landscape, and literary selves. She is currently writing a comparative study of Seamus Heaney, Elizabeth Bishop and Judith Wright.
John Kerrigan is Professor of English 2000 and a Fellow of St John’s College. He has published quite a few essays on recent British and Irish poetry, and reviewed contemporary poetry in the TLS and LRB.
Angela Leighton is Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College. She has published books on nineteenth and twentieth-century literature – most of it on poetry. Her essays on the contemporary include work on Les Murray, Anne Stevenson, Roy Fisher, Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, Heather McHugh and Jorie Graham. In addition she has published three volumes of poetry: A Cold Spell, Sea Level and The Messages. Her fourth, including memoir and translations from the Italian, titled Spills, will be published in spring 2016.
Robert Macfarlane is Senior Lecturer in Post-WW2 Writing in English and a Fellow of Emmanuel College, and the author of Mountains of the Mind (2003), Original Copy (2007), The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012) and Landmarks (2015). His research interests include landscape and literature, cultural environmentalism, modern anglophone fiction, travel writing, and authenticity/the counterfeit.
Rod Mengham is Reader in Modern English Literature at Cambridge University and Curator of Works of Art at Jesus College, Cambridge. He has published monographs and edited collections of essays on nineteenth and twentieth century fiction, violence and avant-garde art, the 1940s, contemporary poetry; anthologies Altered State: the New Polish Poetry ed. Mengham, Pioro, Szymor (2003), Vanishing Points: New Modernist Poems, ed. Kinsella, Mengham(2005); poetry, including Unsung: New and Selected Poems, (2001), Diving Tower (2006), Parleys and Skirmishes(2007), Bell Book (2012) and The Understory (2014). He has also curated numerous exhibitions, most recently ‘Sculpture in the Close 2013’ [Miroslaw Balka, Theaster Gates,Harland Miller, Damian Ortega, Doris Salcedo.
Lisa Mullen works on the period from modernism to the present day. Her current work on the contemporary includes writing journal articles on the embodiment of silence in the plays of Debbie Tucker Green, and on metatextual immortality in contemporary cancer memoir. She is also working towards her third book, which will examine ecologies of reading – uncanny nature, subterranean eruptions, strange fruit – and focuses on forms (poetic and vegetal) which sprout on the borderline between the orderly taxonomic procedures of the botanical, and the recalcitrant, untidy, and invasive energies of wild growth. Her approach is via ecopoetics and radical landscape in modern and in contemporary literature of the Anthropocene.
Jane Partner is a Fellow in English at Trinity Hall. She works on relations between academic research and creative practice and between literature and visual culture. Particular interests include: poetry, material texts and artists’ books/bookworks, text in contemporary art, representations of the body, performance art, and fashion/body modification.
Ian Patterson is a Fellow of Queens’ College. He has published Guernica and Total War (Profile/ Harvard UP 2007) and numerous articles and reviews on twentieth-century and contemporary writing. He translates from French, eg Marcel Proust, Finding Time Again (Penguin, 2003) and has published a number of books and pamphlets of poems including Time to Get Here: Selected Poems 1969-2002 (Salt, 2003). His most recent books of poetry are Time Dust (Equipage, 2015) and Still Life (Oystercatcher Press, 2015). He is currently writing What’s the Point of Ian McEwan?, a book about the failure of imagination in recent British culture. Follow him on Twitter @paftersnu.
James Riley is currently Lecturer in English and is Fellow of English at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His research interests include 20th and 21st century Anglophone writing; literature and technology; recording, noise, cybernetics; counterculture and the 1960s and areas of ‘occulture’ such as parapsychology, catastrophism and ufology. See his blog Residual Noise.
Trudi Tate is a Fellow of Clare Hall and teaches literature from the 1850s to the present for colleges and the Faculty of English. She is particularly interested in literature that bears witness, in various ways, to the history of its own time, and has published on writings of the First World War, the Crimean War, and the American/Viet Nam War. She also works on contemporary Vietnamese diaspora writers in the US, Canada, and Australia. She has an interest in engagements with psychoanalysis in contemporary literature, and in contemporary historical novels.
Chris Warnes works on African literature, postcolonial studies, the novel and digital culture. He is the author of Magical Realism and the Postcolonial Novel: Between Faith and Irreverence (2009).
Clair Wills is King Edward VII Professor of English Literature. Her research focuses on the cultural and literary history of Britain and Ireland in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and she has a particular interest in feminism, gender and sexuality. She reviews contemporary fiction and poetry for the NYRB and LRB.
Mark Wormald is College Lecturer and a Fellow in English at Pembroke College. He is the co-editor of two recent books of essays on Ted Hughes, has just finished writing a book The Catch: fishing for Ted Hughes, and is now working on Casting and Gathering: a painter and two poets, about the triangular friendship between Barrie Cooke, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes revealed in the Barrie Cooke archive and collection, acquired by Pembroke College in 2020.
Alex J. Calder is a PhD student whose research project is a sustained analysis of Ali Smith’s complete body of work and the significance of her literary innovations. His research interests include experimental fiction, creative forms of criticism, ekphrasis and intertextuality in contemporary writing, ecocriticism, gender and sexuality, narratives of grief and mourning, and the politics of social othering.
Joshua Clayton is a PhD student examining representations of friendship in the work of Saul Bellow and, more broadly, the place of friendship within 20th-century American literary culture. His research interests span 20th and 21st century British and American fiction, life-writing, criticism, and poetry, unconventional works of criticism (often with a memioristic bent) and contemporary poetry. Other less classifiable topics would include The Simpsons, the songs of Joanna Newsom, and bird imagery in contemporary writing.
Holly Corfield Carr is a PhD student working on site-specific practices in contemporary writing with research interests in contemporary sculpture and geology.
Nina Ellis is a PhD candidate in American Literature. She is British-American, and is based in Cambridge and Islamabad. Nina is fully funded by the AHRC through the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partership; her thesis is a critical biography of the American short story writer Lucia Berlin. Nina has written about Berlin for Granta, and she is a regular columnist for Review 31. Her short stories have appeared in Ambit, American Chordata, Granta, The London Magazine, 3:AM and elsewhere. She is currently writing her first novel.
Rhona Jamieson is a PhD student examining contemporary British novels in relation to twenty-first century paranoia and conspiracy theories. She is particularly interested in the relationship between conspiracy thinking, systems, and narrative, and the ways in which this interacts with the increasing significance of conspiracy theories in contemporary politics.
Srishti Krishnamoorthy is a PhD student working on the botanical poetics and sexual politics of contemporary experimental poetry by women. Her research interests include avant garde poetry, gender and sexuality, ecopoetics, Postcolonialism, boarding school narratives and the textual history of chalk.
Lily Ní Dhomhnaill is a PhD student working on contemporary and late-twentieth century US poetry, specifically the poet Susan Howe (1937) alongside work by musicians, performance artists and novelists she has collaborated with. She reads Howe’s work as a sustained reckoning with historical debt and material inheritance. Her interests include poetry that interacts with live and temporal-based artforms, such as music, film and performance art, and poetry that draws attention to its own materiality.
Jennifer Schaffer is enrolled in the MPhil in Criticism and Culture and is planning to write a dissertation on early representations of Artificial Intelligence. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, she wrote a thesis on Bruce Chatwin’s first, unpublished novel, The Nomadic Alternative, based on original archival research at the Bodleian. She then spent ayear working as a reporter and editor at VICE in New York City. She is interested in interdisciplinary research into digital narratives, epistemology, and literary representations of technology.
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