20th Century and Contemporary Literature and Culture

We're researching how culture and transnational identity is portrayed in twentieth-century and contemporary literature

With expertise in British, American, and global twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature and culture, members of this research area are involved in projects ranging from Brexit literature, contemporary reading and readers, forms of academic reading, the Holocaust in literature and culture, magic(al) realism, comparative indigenous writing, the methods of criticism, and PG Wodehouse.

Our researchers have published monographs on the English gentleman, magic(al) realism, reading during lockdown, and contemporary representations of time and space. Members have also published several edited collections on subjects including Brexit Literature, the Holocaust, John Burnside, Indigenous Literary Activism, and Polish culture in Britain. 

Members of this research area are active in a variety of forms of public engagement. They have worked with the Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room Instagram project, Portsmouth’s D-Day Story Museum, Portsmouth Literature Map Project with local schools, communities, and writers groups. Our wide-ranging research has fostered a nurturing environment for graduate research at MRes and PhD level. 

Our research

Our members focus on research areas including:

  • National identity
  • Trauma theory
  • War commemoration
  • Holocaust studies
  • Multi-ethnic writing
  • Postcolonialism
  • Magical realism
  • Narrative theory
  • Reading, readers, book culture
  • Sociology of literature
  • Time / temporality
  • Indigenous studies

Recent publications

Recent projects

  • PG Wodehouse and the Men of Tost

    This two-year project investigates the time British author PG Wodehouse spent at the Nazi Internment Camp at Tost (now Toszek) in Silesia; it evaluates his own writing on the topic alongside the memoirs, letters and reminiscences of other former inmates in order to compile a compelling story of this civilian internment camp in order to fill a gap in existing research.

  • Supernatural Cities

    Supernatural Cities is an interdisciplinary network of humanities and creative industries scholars based at the University of Portsmouth. It explores the relationship between the imagination and urban environments, especially aspects of the supernatural, the Gothic, folklore, and storytelling.

  • Portsmouth Cathedral Storytelling Festival

    KEF Faculty-funded Collaborative Project, 2023.

  • When and Why Do We Read? The Time and Value of Reading in the Twenty-First-Century University

    Building upon previous studies on time-use in the university, this project specifically investigates the interconnected issues of when and why reading happens in the humanities today. Funded by the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU).

Lockdown reading

This project researches reading habits during the COVID-19 pandemic through surveys, publisher data and interviews.

Man in mask reading under COVID-19 lockdown
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Portsmouth Literary Map

Explore Portsmouth's rich literary heritage and contemporary literature scene through an interactive map and blog

Status of Charles Dickens in Guildhall square
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Our members

Christine Berberich Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Christine Berberich

Associate Head (Global Engagement)

School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Margaret Ann Bowers-Bridge Portrait

Dr Maggie Bowers

Senior Lecturer

School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Ben Davies Portrait

Media ready expert

Dr Ben Davies

Associate Professor in Literature and Culture

UoA Coordinator (English Language and Literature)

School of Area Studies, Sociology, History, Politics, and Literature

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Related PhD projects

  • Hannah Coombs: ‘A Place of your own: Understanding children’s experiences of refugeedom’
  • Sally Emms: ‘British National Identity and the Migrant Experience in BrexLit’
  • Ashleigh Hannay: ’Going Back to Move Forward: The Role of the African American Woman in Black Women’s Literature’
  • Marjorie Huet-Martin: ‘Translating Crime: Constructing National Culture’
  • Gemma Lake: ‘Solo Women Travelers and Affect’
  • Lauren Macpherson: ‘Turbulent Mobility: Transitions of Englishness in Interwar Feminine Middlebrow Novels’
  • Jack Fox-Williams: ‘Representations of Opium Addiction in nineteenth and twentieth century literature’