Our Postgraduate Community

Doctoral Students at the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Writing are working on a range of fascinating and innovative topics. Current postgraduate researchers include: 

Alex Hammond

The figure of the returning veteran and the influence of trauma and memory on narrative, from Vietnam to the War on Terror. My creative component explores the literary and social legacies of Vietnam, on soldiers’ narratives and public responses respectively. The critical examines the role of creative writing in veterans’ rehabilitation, and how creative writing teaching practices shape the way war stories and veterans’ narratives are presented.

Kostas Kaltas

I am writing a three-generation saga, tracing the lives of a Greek family from the 1944-49 civil war till the infamous 2015 referendum, which will also (hopefully) function as an investigation of three modes of historical fiction (the lyrical ‘realist’ World War II novel, the contemporary culture-fetishizing bildungsroman, and the self-conscious mode often referred to as historiographic metafiction). In case this wasn’t complicated enough, the novel should also function as a ghost story. My accompanying exegesis aims to prove I had not completely lost my mind when I submitted my proposal.

Alison Marmont

My project focuses on intersectional discrimination in France and in the novels of Linda Lê and Marie NDiaye, two contemporary French authors. With reference to Ahmed’s concept of ‘being-at-home’, I analyse how various spaces of belonging are constructed in France and in the texts and the impact of this on the embodied experiences of those deemed out-of-place because of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class, age etc. 

Joan McGavin

My research involves the writing of a book-length collection of poems, on themes of identity, memorialisation and technological change. I use as a starting point a mid-nineteenth century collection of plaster death masks owned by Hampshire Cultural Trust and collected by the prison surgeon at Winchester Prison. The critical component addresses the genesis of the poems in terms of genre and form, as well as the question of how to incorporate researched historical material into contemporary poems. It also explores the different kinds of language (scientific or not) that are used to convey notions of identity.

Joseph Owen

My thesis focuses on the aesthetic in the work of German political and legal theorist Carl Schmitt. I argue that sovereignty is a central concern of literary modernism and aim to bring modernist understandings of sovereignty into discussions of Schmitt’s thought. I am the postgraduate representative for the Centre of Modern and Contemporary Writing (CMCW).

Lian Patston

My research focuses on the figure of the stranger and digitalisation in contemporary fiction. I look to understand how representations of digital culture enables an understanding of how – and if – we might ethically claim to ‘know’, and know who, the stranger ‘is’. My research examines a variety of novels by those such as Chris Kraus, Dana Spiotta, Gary Schteyngart and Cory Doctorow to theorise how forms of relation, such as Donna Haraway’s notion of affinity, can illuminate new meaning on the constitution of subjects and strangers in the 21st century.

Isabelle Mutton

Supervised by Dr David Tollerton at the University of Exeter and James Jordan at the University of Southampton, SWW DTP funded doctoral student Isabelle Mutton will be examining the new National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa (opened in September 2017) and the proposed UK Holocaust Memorial in London (expected to be completed in 2022) with regard to notions of sacred space. She will analyse their origins, planning stages and reception to uncover the sacred underpinnings of these historical and seemingly secular memorials

Jared Mustafa-Holzapfel

My project is an ongoing critical analysis of novels by Arab authors engaging with liberal LGBTQ+ rights movements and contemporary debates of Arab identity post-9/11 and the “War on Terror”. Through critical theory on queer time and space, postcolonialism, liberalism, religion, and sexuality, I am examining the framing of same-sex desire in contemporary Anglophone Arab literature to deconstruct orientalised notions of inherent queer oppression throughout the Levant. This project attempts to think beyond readings of Anglophone Arab fiction as national allegories to focus on timely reflections on the contested relationship between liberal democracy, religion, and sexuality, as well the queer racialized experience within the globalised socioeconomic Twenty-First Century world.

Helen Kent

Helen Kent joined the department in September 2018 to begin a creative non-fiction doctorate with Carole Burns, Philip Hoare, and Will May based on the poet and painter, Mary Stella Edwards; Mary’s life-long partner, the watercolour artist and diorama maker, Judith Ackland; and their studio, The Cabin, in North Devon.  

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