Biography

I am an associate professor of English literature at Ghent University, where I direct the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative.

I am the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013; paperback 2015) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (Sussex Academic Press, 2005). I have also guest-edited special issues of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts (with Michael Rothberg) and Studies in the Novel (with Gert Buelens) on the topics of, respectively, transcultural negotiations of Holocaust memory and postcolonial trauma novels. I am currently guest-editing another special issue of Studies in the Novel (with Rick Crownshaw), on climate change fiction.

My next book projects are an introductory guide to the concept of trauma for Routledge’s New Critical Idiom series (with Lucy Bond) and an edited collection titled Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (with Lucy Bond and Pieter Vermeulen), which is forthcoming with Berghahn.

Before taking up my current post, I served as a postdoctoral research fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen) and an assistant professor at Ghent University. My degrees are from the University of Leuven (PhD, MA), the University of Hull (MA), and the Catholic University of Brussels (BA). I have held visiting fellowships at the School of Advanced Study, University of London; Birkbeck, University of London; Columbia University; and the Flemish Academic Centre for Science and the Arts (VLAC).

Much of my research focuses on the ways in which postcolonial literature in English bears witness to the suffering engendered by colonial oppression. Through a number of case studies I investigate the specificity of colonial traumas in relation to the hegemonic trauma discourse, analyse the textual strategies deployed to give them literary form, and explore the ethico-political stakes involved in the postcolonial memory work this literature undertakes. I also examine how, why, and to what effect the memory of the Holocaust is evoked in literary texts that connect the Nazi genocide of the European Jews with other exceptionally destructive, criminal, and catastrophic histories, such as slavery, colonialism, and other genocides. My most recent research interest is the role of memory in literary responses to climate change.

I serve on the management committee of the COST Action “In Search of Transcultural Memory in Europe” and the executive committee of the MLA Memory Studies forum. I am also a founding member of Mnemonics: Network for Memory Studies, an international collaborative initiative for graduate education in the field of memory studies. Moreover, I sit on the editorial boards of Atlantis, Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, and Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies.

later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere.

Warsan Shire

Education

  • PhD 2003

    PhD in English Literature

    University of Leuven, Belgium

  • MA 2000

    MA in Women and Literature in English

    University of Hull, UK

  • MA 1998

    Licentiate (MA) in English and Dutch Literature and Linguistics

    University of Leuven, Belgium

  • BA 1996

    Candidate (BA) in English and Dutch Literature and Linguistics

    Catholic University of Brussels, Belgium

Positions

  • Present2015

    Associate Professor (Hoofddocent BOF-ZAP)

    Ghent University, Department of Literary Studies

  • Present2010

    Director, Cultural Memory Studies Initiative

    Ghent University

  • 20152010

    Assistant Professor (Docent BOF-ZAP)

    Ghent University, Department of Literary Studies

  • 20122006

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen) / Ghent University, English Department

  • 20062003

    Assistant Professor (Doctor-Assistent)

    Ghent University, English Department

Honours and Awards

  • 2015
    Associate Member of Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences
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    I was elected Associate Member of the Belgian Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, Section of Human Sciences.

  • 2014
    Shortlisted for 2014 ESSE Book Award
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    My book Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds was shortlisted for the 2014 ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) Book Award in the field of “Cultural Studies in English,” category A (senior scholars).

  • 2013
    Times Higher Education’s Books of 2013
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    My book Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds was selected as one of Times Higher Education’s Books of 2013.

  • 2013
    Honorary Research Associate, Birkbeck, University of London
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    I served as an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of English and Humanities of the School of Arts at Birkbeck, University of London during the spring of 2013.

  • 2013
    Visiting Fellow, School of Advanced Study, University of London
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    I served as a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory in the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies of the School of Advanced Study, University of London during the spring of 2013.

  • 2009
    Visiting Scholar, Columbia University
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    I was a Visiting Scholar in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University during the 2009-2010 academic year.

  • 2009
    Fulbright Postdoctoral Award
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    Fulbright postdoctoral award ($9,000) for one-year stay as Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.

  • 2009
    Honorary BAEF Fellowship
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    Honorary fellowship awarded by the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) for one-year stay as Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.

  • 2009
    Fellow, Flemish Academic Centre for Science and the Arts
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    I was a Fellow of the Flemish Academic Centre for Science and the Arts (VLAC), a Brussels-based institute of advanced study, during the spring of 2009.

  • 2008
    Dan David Prize Scholarship
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    Dan David Prize Scholarship ($15,000) in the field of “Creative Rendering of the Past: Literature, Theater, Film,” awarded by the Dan David Foundation (Tel Aviv University).

  • 2006
    Shortlisted for 2006 ESSE Book Award
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    My book Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation was shortlisted for the 2006 ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) Book Award in the field of “Literatures in the English language.” It was the only book by a first-time author to be thus honoured.

  • 1999
    FWO PhD Scholarship
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    Four-year full-time PhD scholarship awarded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen).

  • 1999
    AHRB Postgraduate Studentship (declined)
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    Fees-only scholarship awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) for a three-year full-time PhD programme at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, University of Wales, Cardiff, UK.