English and creative writing at UNSW School of the Arts & Media houses a passionate group of writers and scholars working in diverse fields. Our research consistently achieves high rankings. In the latest (2018) Excellence for Research in Australia (ERA) assessment, we scored 5 for creative writing (well above world standard) and 4 for literary studies (above world standard). 

Our internationally renowned researchers produce monographs, novels, poetry collections, edited collections and essays in major international journals. We attract significant external funding from the Australia Council and Australian Research Council (ARC). We also receive support from international funding bodies such as the Research England Development Fund, the Canadian Humanities and Social Sciences Research Council, the Swedish Research Council and the Flemish Research Foundation (FWO). 

Our academics include the presidents of the Australasian Association for Literature and the Association for the Study of the Australian Literature (ASAL), the incoming president of the International Society for the Study of Narrative, as well as past and present executive members of the Australian University Heads of English.

English and creative writing at UNSW Sydney is home to a thriving postgraduate research culture, with a strong record of successful completions in a broad range of areas. We particularly welcome research proposals in any of the fields below. 

Research strengths

  • UNSW School of the Arts & Media is the largest hub globally for research in Australian literature. We address the global dimensions of Australian writing, including diasporic and expatriate writing, writing by refugees and asylum seekers, Indigenous writers alongside continuing engagement with more foundational works. 

    Among our many recent publications are monographs on Christina Stead and America, and on literary islands and colonialism, as well as edited collections on the works of Elizabeth Harrower, Antigone Kefala and Shirley Hazzard. Our academics include the president and two former presidents of the peak scholarly body ASAL. We also host Southerly, Australia’s oldest literary journal. 

    The large and constant flow of local and international postgraduate students expand and invigorate our research strength in contemporary studies in Australian literature. Our many institutional and publishing activities create a wealth of opportunities for our students’ academic and professional development. 

    We welcome enquiries about higher degree research (HDR) supervision across all areas of Australian literature. Recent projects include: queer Australian masculinities; the Australian girl; contemporary Indigenous women’s writing; sound and Australian literature; Brian Castro and weird English; Indigenous speculative writing and ecopoetics; Australia and utopia; studies of Antigone Kefala and Eleanor Dark; and a biography of Marjorie Barnard. 

  • UNSW School of the Arts & Media has a long history of excellence in modernist studies. Our research spans a wide variety of topics within the broad field of modernist studies, including modernist poetics, the modernist novel, modernist periodical studies, and modernism and media. 

    Our research addresses the formal experiments and political meanings of modernism’s responses to and critiques of global modernity. Recent publications include edited collections on modernism and sound, modernism and technology, and modernism and work. Our academics also regularly publish articles on modernist and modernism-adjacent subjects in leading journals. Among our academics are the treasurer of the Australasian Modernist Studies Network and two editors of the network’s journal Affirmations: of the modern.

    Our school welcomes research proposals on all aspects of modernist literature and culture. Recent projects include: studies of rhythm in modernist short fiction; philosophical poetry in a time of crisis; bodily experience in the writing of Virginia Woolf; architectural subjectivity in the fiction of Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys and Christina Stead; and ‘textual becoming’ in Proust.

  • UNSW School of the Arts & Media’s renowned literary historical research fosters interdisciplinary dialogues between literature and artificial intelligence, literature and visual culture, literature and sound, literature and the history of political struggle, book history and literary biography.  

    Our research includes work on historical poetics and the historical development of the novel, with a strong focus on archival research. Work includes an editorial project on Charlotte Bronte and a large collaborative project on ‘Rioting and the literary archive’, which traces literature’s enduring engagement with forms of popular resistance and riotous assembly. 

    Recent publications include a range of monographs and edited collections, as well as pieces in major international journals, such as ELH, NLH, Textual Practice, Victorian Studies, Modernism/Modernity, Studies in the Novel, and NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction. Our academics have edited special issues of Poetics Today, on narrative theory and the history of the novel, and of Critical Quarterly, on historical poetics and the problem of exemplarity. Forthcoming publications include an edited collection on ‘Writing the global riot: literature in a time of crisis’, the ‘Edinburgh companion to literary sound studies’ and the authorised biography of Australian-US author Shirley Hazzard. UNSW is also home to the Juvenilia Press.  

    Postgraduate supervision encompasses diverse areas of literary history, ranging from single-author studies to more expansive thematic and historical approaches. Projects include: studies of voice in the 19th-century novel; literary precarity; reading domestic spaces; Thomas Chatterton and the performance of literary professionalism; writer characters in fiction from the 1890s to the present; the Anthropocene in science fiction; time and empathy in cognitive literary criticism; and the sonic animal in 19th-century fiction. 

  • UNSW School of the Arts & Media has a strong focus on literary theory and literary approaches to philosophy. Our researchers are experts in queer theory, feminism, narratology, postcolonial theory, animal studies, ecocriticism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, Derridean and de Manian deconstruction and Deleuze studies. We engage with figures as diverse as Søren Kierkegaard, Alain Badiou, Maurice Blanchot, Bruno Latour, Peter Sloterdijk, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, G. W. F. Hegel, Jacques Rancière, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Lacan.  

    The work of our academics has appeared in monographs and journals such as symploke, Substance, Angelaki, Continental Philosophy Review, Filozofski vestnik and Crisis & Critique. We also engage in large international and national research projects investigating literary and critical climate change. Forthcoming publications include the ‘Routledge companion to narrative theory’ which locates the novel in the context of the larger multidisciplinary study of narrative, and a special issue of S: Journal on the work of the contemporary French philosopher Barbara Cassin. 

  • UNSW School of the Arts & Media’s research in world literatures spans the fields of postcolonial, diasporic and transnational literary studies. Australia’s settler colonial history means we engage in ways that contribute to and shape the dynamic fields of postcolonial and transnational writing. We focus on works in English, in translation and in other languages. One key question is: What do we do with texts when they circulate outside their context of origin?  

    From the deployment of big data to close textual analysis, our research examines both the aesthetics and politics of literary representation in context, as well as the modes of literary production and the circulations of literature in globalised modernity.  

    We’re interested in the networks of Australia’s diverse writing cultures and the circulation of their work in global contexts. Our publications range from colonialist histories and imaginaries to the production and circulation of contemporary Iranian literature, to questions of trans-Indigenous writing and representation.  

    Recent and forthcoming monographs by our academics include Christina Stead and America, the imaginary geographies of colonialism and Iranian literature since the revolution. Themed issues of Southerly include the writing of detained refugees, the Persian diaspora, the inter-generational legacies of migration in Australia and the mobility of textual circulation. 

    We have many local and international postgraduate students working on topics ranging from Irish-language poetics to Iranian women’s romance fiction, to contemporary African fiction. Our school is a long-standing sponsor of the Institute of World Literature (Harvard University) and UNSW academics and postgraduate students regularly participate in the institute’s summer programs. PhD projects include: post-Independence African novels; psychogeography and the novel; domestic violence in postcolonial writing; and Irish women’s writing. 

  • Creative writing at UNSW School of the Arts & Media is a dynamic program, boasting researchers who are award-winning novelists and poets. Our academics have won numerous prizes including the Literary Fiction Book of the Year in the Australian Book Industry Awards, the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and the Best Young Australian Novelist award. They have also been shortlisted for the Victorian and NSW Premier’s Awards and the Newcastle Poetry Prize. 

    We have judged major prizes such as the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the ALS Gold Medal. We publish creative work in Australia’s top literary journals such as Meanjin, Overland, Island, Westerly, Southerly, Cordite Poetry Review and Australian Poetry Journal. 

    Our researchers are committed to public and cultural engagement and frequently collaborate with the broader publishing industry and media outlets. We have longstanding relationships with the Adelaide International Festival, Tasmanian Writers’ Festival, Perth Writers’ Festival, Asialink, Varuna, The Writers’ House and the Oxford Centre for Life Writing at Wolfson College, Oxford University. 

  • Editing and publishing at the School of the Arts & Media plays a leading role in the dissemination of traditional and non-traditional research. We explore new forms of scholarly communication as editors and editorial board members of academic journals such as Affirmations, Southerly, S: Journal, Continental Thought & Theory, Journal of World Literature and Iranian Studies. 

    We promote strong international outreach through our founding role in Open Humanities Press, which publishes open-access journals and books in a variety of humanities fields. Bernard Stiegler, Timothy Morton, Claire Colebrook, Joanna Zylinska and Isabelle Stengers, among others, have been published recently. 

    Southerly magazine is Australia’s oldest literary journal and publishes scholarly work on Australian literature alongside creative fiction and prose. Southerly is particularly notable among Australia’s literary journals for publishing more fiction and poetry, and it also publishes essays, commentary and reviews. The themed component of each issue is often prompted by research interests of UNSW academics including intergenerational migrant writing; Utopian fiction; writing by refugees in Australian detention centres; and transnational writing cultures of the Persian diaspora in Australia. 

    Our academics are also working on Live Crossings, an online open-access creative practice magazine publishing work by refugees and asylum-seekers as well as Indigenous writers and artists.