Contemporary Research Group

Asking critical questions about how the contemporary is experienced, theorised, produced and contested across contemporary culture.

The group meets around five times a year, to hear new research from external speakers, staff, and postgraduates, and to participate in reading groups addressing key topics in and approaches to the contemporary.

Loughborough English is a centre of excellence for research in contemporary literature and culture. The Contemporary Research Group houses research in late twentieth- and twenty-first century literature, theatre, film, TV, popular culture, and theory. As well as contemporary British literature, we have strengths in American literature and film and African American culture, life writing, feminist theory, age studies, neo-Victorianism, literary prize culture, utopian and dystopian writing, climate fiction, and animal studies.

The Contemporary Research Group comprises academics, creative writers, doctoral researchers, and PGT students from our MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture and MA in Creative Writing and the Writing Industries programmes. We ask critical questions about how the contemporary is experienced, theorised, produced, and contested across contemporary culture. The group organises conferences and symposia, hosts visiting speakers and public lectures, and runs reading groups, workshops, and other events.

Our members are leaders in the field of contemporary literature and culture. Siân Adiseshiah is Editor-in-Chief of the Open Library of Humanities journal C21 Literature and Editor of new Liverpool University Press book series Playwriting and the Contemporary: Critical Collaborations. Jennifer Cooke is Editor of the new Elements in Feminism and Contemporary Critical Theory series for Cambridge University Press.

Our members were amongst a group that co-founded the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS), serving on its Executive Committee from 2016-2019, and that inaugurated the ‘What Happens Now’ conference series at the University of Lincoln in 2010, which was hosted at Loughborough in 2018, after the conference series was adopted by BACLS.

Within our group there are creative writing specialists, with a focus on poetry, non-fictional narrative, historical fiction, and young adult literature. Jennifer Cooke writes experimental poetry, Sara Read has published two novels informed by seventeenth-century midwifery practices, Barbara Cooke produces life-writing with an emphasis on book history and place, and Kerry Featherstone writes poetry in English and French.

We host a series of events throughout the year of author talks, readings, and industry specialists in publishing. Each year, as part of the MA, our students organise a small literary festival. Previous authors have included Anne Enright, Helen Calcutt, Lottie Hazell, and Laura Cumming.

If you would like to contact us, please email our current leads Siân Adiseshiah and Paul Jenner


Members are engaged in individual and collaborative research projects, which include:

  • Poetry 1922: Beyond The Waste Land (Sarah Parker, Oliver Tearle, English)
  • Editing the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh (Barbara Cooke, English)
  • Wrestling Resurgence project which aims to explore wrestling as an artistic practice through live wrestling shows (Claire Warden, Drama)

Recent publications on the contemporary from members of the group include:  

  • Jennifer Cooke, Contemporary Feminist Life-writing: the New Audacity (Cambridge, 2020), The New Feminist Literary Studies (Cambridge, 2020);  
  • Andrew Dix (co-editor), Violence from Slavery to #BlackLivesMatter: African American History and Representation (Routledge, 2020) 
  • Siân Adiseshiah (co-editor), Twenty-first Century Fiction: What Happens Now (Palgrave, 2013), Twenty-First Century Drama (Palgrave, 2016), debbie tucker green: Critical Perspectives (Palgrave, 2020).  
  • Claire O’Callaghan, Sarah Waters: Gender and Sexual Politics (Bloomsbury, 2017), (co-editor), Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminisms (Palgrave, 2016), (co-editor) Gender and Austerity in Contemporary Culture: Femininity, Masculinity and Recession in Film and Television (I.B. Taurus, 2016). 

Upcoming events will be posted here.