Mr Peter Ely

Research project: The Politics of Community in Contemporary British Fiction


My thesis draws on the work of philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy to propose ‘community' as a conceptual and hermeneutical figure that opens up productive possibilities in the study of contemporary British literature. Community is advanced as a form of political ontology, which moves beyond contingent appearance toward radical possibilities for transformation in the current political landscape. Community is demonstrated as offering ways of rethinking the figure of ‘politics' itself, opening avenues for developing its meaning through emergent theories of ‘gender', the ‘queer' and ‘trans'.  

By focusing on works by Jackie Kay, Jon McGregor and Ali Smith, literature is presented as a singular space through which communitarian possibility can be glimpsed. The conceptual figures of ‘death', ‘gender transformation' and ‘magic' are proposed as offering new possibilities in our understanding of community, demonstrating how literature can offer productive and innovative ways of re-imagining our understanding of community in the contemporary moment. 

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: The Politics of Community in Contemporary British Fiction
  • Research supervisor: Professor Sara Upstone


I started my undergraduate degree in 2008 at Nottingham University where I completed a BA in Classical Civilisations and English studies. I then stayed on at Nottingham to complete a MA in 20th and 21st Century British Literature where I focused on philosophical and theoretical readings of Modernist and Postmodernist texts

After lecturing at a university in China for a year I returned to the UK to begin my PhD at Kingston University, where I have nearly completed my thesis entitled "The Politics of Community in Contemporary British Fiction".  

I have taught on several modules at Kingston including "Global Literatures" and "Twentieth and Twenty-First-Century Literature"

I am currently preparing several articles for publication and am in talks to turn my thesis into a book. 

Areas of research interest

  • Contemporary British Literature
  • Continental Philosophy
  • Critical Theory
  • Queer Theory
  • Relational Ontology
  • Jean-Luc Nancy
  • Marxism


  • BA in Classical Civilisations and English Studies, Nottingham University
  • MA in 20th and 21st Century British Literature, Nottingham University

Funding or awards received

  • Kingston PhD Studentship

Conference papers

"Universality And/Or Community" delivered at MeCCSA Conference at Canterbury University, January 2016 

"The Ethics of the Secret in Jackie Kay's Trumpet" delivered at 21st Century Theories of Literature: Ethics, Tropes, Attunement Conference at Warwick University, April 2017