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English Literature, Language and Creative Practice

The group takes an innovative approach to research, combined with an engagement with communities beyond academia. We explore hybrid and inter-disciplinary ways of working and in our examination of marginal, experimental and emergent practices. We are concerned with looking at the overlooked and teasing out readings of neglected and/or transgressive authors and cultural practices. From looking at writing conflict in Northern Ireland to Victorian Sensation fiction, from discontented minds in Early Modern Drama to the representation of serial killers in film and fiction, from African modernism to experimental poetry, from the hidden meanings of place names to discourse analysis – our work is searching, critically-engaged and culturally relevant.

We also recognise the importance of linking our research with cultural life outside of the university as demonstrated by our Writing Lives projects and other links to local literature initiatives and institutions, such as experimental poetry reading series The Other Room.

English staff were returned to the last Research Excellence Framework (RAE 2014) with the University’s English Language and Literature submission (UoA 29). The results showed that nearly 50% of the work of researchers in the Centre was deemed to be internationally recognised or world leading, with 13% being graded at the highest possible level of 4*.

Literature research covers major periods and genres including Mediaeval, Renaissance, Shakespeare, 18th-century Literature, Gothic, and 20th and 21st-century poetry and fiction. English Language and Linguistics research is concerned with Pragmatics, Cognitive linguistics, Computer assisted language learning (for ESOL), Sociolinguistics and the study of the Scots language. Creative Practice research is conducted in poetry, fiction, autobiography, biography, scriptwriting and performance. Areas of concentrated research activity include: experimental fiction, contemporary and 20th century poetry, performance and Shakespeare.

  • Ursula Hurley is taking part in an AHRC funded collaborative project called 'In The Making': a co-constructed mapping and feasibility study of digital fabrication labs and their potential to catalyse cultural change. This is funded by the AHRC’s Connected Communities Scheme.
  • Jennifer Campbell (Masters and PhD candidate) is conducting research into using experimental writing for people with a dementia diagnosis building on our links with CIC 'arthur+martha' and in conjunction with the Salford Institute for Dementia.
  • Jade Munslow Ong co-founded and launched the Northern Postcolonial Network in November 2014, and is currently co-ordinator. This initiative supports cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange amongst scholars working on postcolonial topics in the north of the UK and facilitates conversations on postcolonial cultures between academics, students, external organisations, non-academic partners and the wider public.
  • Lucia Nigri is working a collaborative project called SEMES: Shakespeare’s Early Modern European Sources: Drama, Narrative, Music. This is a cross-institutional semantic computational project devoted to the elaboration of a VRE dedicated to the creation of relational collections of Shakespeare’s European sources and their propagation through an open-access system. This digital project takes into account the European circulation, translation, and adaptation of the sources' early modern editions, which often present significant textual and paratextual variants, additions, and omissions. In August Lucia will also start working on the VCECS project (Shakespeare in Manchester: Reproducing Early Modern Plays in the Northwest).
  • Maggie Scott is investigating the manuscript dictionary of 'Arms, Armour and Costume' compiled by Charles Relly Beard (1891-1958), and held by the Society of Antiquaries of London. Beard was an expert in these subjects, and advisor for Hollywood films including Treasure Island (1950).

We welcome PhD applications corresponding to the themes and topics listed above, but in addition we have specific research interests in the following areas:

Creative Practice

Creative Writing in poetry and prose including experimental forms
Performance practice


18th-century poetry and prose
Renaissance literature
19th century literature
Modern and contemporary British and Irish fiction
Contemporary innovative and experimental poetry and fiction
Women’s writing
Visual text
Auto/biography, memory and trauma studies
Colonial  and postcolonial texts
Popular fiction and culture

Linguistics and English Language

First and Second Language Acquisition
Linguistic Interfaces
Onomastics (Names Studies)

North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership

Currently available funded PhD studentships for 2019-20

Dr Scott Thurston
Reader in English and Creative Writing
0161 295 3597