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English literature research

The research unit is one of the most successful research groups in the University. Staff conduct research in a number of areas, including 19th- and 20th-century British and American fiction; modernism; critical theory; Gothic writing; travel writing; gender and writing; sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature;  literary representations of the Balkans; narratives of slavery; women's writing; writing, memory and trauma; life writing and human rights, constructions of identity and nationality in 19th and 20th century fiction; Eighteenth-century British home, domestic space, material culture and art; writing and sexuality; Black British fiction; Shakespeare, including Shakespeare and Islam; and early modern women's writing.

In addition, Writers' Centre Kingston provides opportunities for research across a range of areas as part of our taught masters and Doctor of Philosophy or Masters by Research.

The department also has links to Cultural Histories @Kingston, an interdisciplinary research group centred around the concept of the 'cultural text'. The group includes researchers from the fields of literature, film, media, history, music, dance, performance, and journalism, brought together by their shared interest in the way in which narratives - written, visual, and performative - shape and have shaped individual and communal experience, material culture, and everyday life.

Research areas

  • British and American fiction from the eighteenth-century to the present day
  • Modernism
  • Critical theory
  • Gothic writing
  • Travel writing
  • Gender and writing
  • Literary representations of the Balkans
  • Narratives of slavery
  • Ecocriticism and environmental literature
  • Early American literature and the eighteenth century Atlantic world
  • Women's writing from the eighteenth century to the present
  • New woman and fin de siecle fictions
  • Shakespeare, including Shakespeare and Islam
  • English women's religious poetry during the seventeenth century
  • Postcolonial/diasporic studies
  • Writing fiction
  • Writing poetry
  • Writing for children
  • Writing biography
  • Writing memoir
  • Writing crime fiction
  • Writing for the stage

Current PhD topics

  • Individuality, Identity and the Uncanny in the Plays of Phyllis Nagy
  • Boat of Letters: Exploring the Poetics of Reticence
  • Psychopathy in the novels of Iris Murdoch
  • The Idea of (Un)belonging in Post-1989 Black British and Post- Yugoslav Women's Writing
  • Lucian Freud's Portraits: Curatorial Ekphrasis in Contemporary British Poetic Practice

Enquiries are welcome from students wishing to undertake research in any of the areas listed above. It is possible to undertake postgraduate research full-time or part-time. You are encouraged to contact any member of staff, by email, telephone or letter, for an informal conversation prior to application.

We encourage students to present conference papers and to publish work during the second and third years of their PhD registration.

Works recently accepted for publication include:


  • Vedrana Velickovic: Eastern Europeans in Contemporary Literature and Culture: Imagining New Europe (Palgrave 2016)
  • Claire Crowther: Stretch of Closures (volume of poetry), Shearsman Press, February 2007
  • Kathy McKean: 'Impermanence and Displacement in Weldon Rising, The Strip
    and Never Land
    by Phyllis Nagy' in Dimple Godiwala (editor), Alternatives in the Main Stream: British Queer Theatre (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007/8)
  • Sarah Whitehead: 'Breaking the Frame: How Edith Wharton's Short Stories Subvert their Magazine Context' in The European Journal of American Culture (2007/8)

How to apply

If you are interested in studying for a research degree, the first step is to submit your research proposal to the Research Student Co-ordinator (tel: +44 (0)20 8417 2304). Please produce your proposal using the following research proposal guidelines.

Research groups and centres

Life Narratives Research Group (LNR)

Life Narratives Research Group (LNR)

The Life Narratives Research Group is a physical and virtual base for research projects conducted by existing Kingston staff, externally funded research fellows, visiting fellows and professors, writers, filmmakers, and artists in residence and research students from a variety of disciplines.

Iris Murdoch Archive

Iris Murdoch Archive

Kingston University is now a world-class centre of excellence for expertise and primary resource material on the life and work of the renowned twentieth-century novelist and philosopher Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999). The University has a long-term research interest in Iris Murdoch and holds extensive archives of her private libraries, her books, letters, publications and other smaller related archives and materials.

Cultural Histories @ Kingston

Cultural Histories @ Kingston

Cultural Histories @ Kingston (CHK) is an interdisciplinary research group at Kingston University. Centred around the concept of the 'cultural text', the group includes scholars from the fields of literature, film, media, history, music, dance, performance, journalism and publishing, who are brought together by a shared interest in the way in which narratives - written, visual, and performative - shape and have shaped individual and communal experience, material culture, and everyday life.

Writers' Centre Kingston

Writers' Centre Kingston

A thriving, lively and open community, Writers' Centre Kingston offers an inspirational environment for writers that transcends the University, including opportunities to showcase work.

Race/Gender Matters research cluster

Race/Gender Matters research cluster

Race/Gender Matters is a research cluster at Kingston University that captures and concentrates research on theoretical, critical and creative engagements with the materiality of race, gender and language.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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