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Dr Madhu KrishnanMA (Stanford), MA (Nott.), PhD (Nott.)

Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Writing

Madhu Krishnan

Dr Madhu KrishnanMA (Stanford), MA (Nott.), PhD (Nott.)

Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Writing

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Research interests

My research considers contemporary African writing in the context of transnational, world and global literary production. I am particularly interested in the ways in which literary writing contributes to, subverts and is shaped by a broader, a priori image of 'Africa' circulating in a global imaginary, as well as the varied and contested registrations of this process across differing scales of expression and geography. By exploring the contours of representation, in both its aesthetic and material facets, my research considers the demarcations of the global and the local in the context of postcolonial writing. My first monograph, Contemporary African Literature in English: Global Locations, Postcolonial Identifications explores these issues, drawing on a broad range of African literary works published in Europe, North America and on the continent itself.

My second monograph, Writing Spatiality in West Africa: Colonial Legacies in the Anglophone/Francophone Novel, will be published in 2018 as part of Boydell & Brewer's African Articulations series (edited by Ranka Primorac and Stephanie Newell). Drawing widely on archival, textual and historical research, it considers the constitution of space in Anglophone and Francophone West African literature written from 1952 to the present day. This project is particularly concerned with the ways in which literature is both worlded by its articulations with wider spatial ecologies and undertakes an act of worlding in its registration of space. I am also working on a minigraph for Cambridge University Press's Gatherings series, tentatively entitled Contingent Canons: African Literature and the Politics of Location, which will be published in late 2018.

I am at present PI on a number of externally-funded grants, including the AHRC/ESRC/PaCCS GCRF Research Innovation project, Ugandan Youth and Creative Writing: New Perspectives on Conflict and Development, and the AHRC Research Network, Small Magazines, Literary Networks and Self-Fashioning in Africa and its Diasporas (with Dr Christopher Ouma of the University of Cape Town). Both of these projects are in collaboration with the Kampala-based Center for African Cultural Excellence. Along with Drs Ruth Bush and Kate Haines Wallis, I also convene the annual Arts Management and Literary Activism workshop at their annual Writivism Festival. In 2016 we received funding through the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account to launch a related mentorship scheme. From 2016-17, I also convened the British Academy-funded workshop series Ethics, Affect and Responsibility: Global Citizenship and the Act of Reading. All of these projects have contributed to the development of the intellectual agenda for my current large-scale research project, which seeks to explore the ways in which literary activism and infrastructures operate with respect to the opening of alternative and lateral public spheres on the African continent.

I have published widely in the overlapping fields of postcolonial criticism, world literatures and African literary studies, and my work has appeared in journals including Comparative Literature StudiesResearch in African LiteraturesJournal of Postcolonial Writing, Textual PracticeJournal of Commonwealth Literature and ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature. I serve as a peer reviewer for a number of journals, publishing houses and funding bodies, and I have written reviews for publications including Wasafiri and Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. While my primary focus falls under the remit of African literatures, I have additional interests in narrative theory, space and spatiality, representation, contemporary British and American writing, prize culture and cultural materiality.

From 2014 to 2016, I served as the Director for the now-defunct Centre for the Study of Colonial and Postcolonial Societies at the University of Bristol, and I am on the steering committee for the newly-established Centre for Black Humanities. I am also on the board of the Bristol Poetry Institute, Bristol Cultural Development Partnership and am a member of the Engaged University Steering Group.



I would welcome applications from students working on any area of African literary studies or world literatures. I especially welcome applications which consider the intersection of literary criticism and material cultures, as well as those which explore the relationship between late capitalism, literary production and form. I am happy to consider projects which seek to re-conceptualise world literary topographies and those which seek to expand upon the orthodoxies of postcolonial criticism.


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