Professor Siân Adiseshiah

Pronouns: She/her
  • Professor of Literature, Politics and Performance

Siân Adiseshiah joined Loughborough University as Senior Lecturer in English and Drama in June 2018 as part of its Excellence 100 campaign. She was promoted to Reader in December 2020 and Professor in June 2023. She previously worked at the University of Lincoln (2004-2018), and has taught at the Open University and the University of Birmingham. Her PhD (on the plays of Caryl Churchill) was funded by the AHRB, undertaken at the University of Birmingham, and awarded in 2003. Her research interests lie mostly in contemporary theatre and literary studies, utopianism, and age studies.

Siân is Editor-in-Chief of the Open Library of Humanities journal C21 Literature, Editor of new book series 'Playwriting and the Contemporary: Critical Collaborations' (Liverpool University Press), and sits on the Editorial Boards of Cambridge University Press’ Elements in Contemporary Performance Texts, Bloomsbury’s book series New Horizons in Contemporary Literature, and the Journal of Gender Studies. She was appointed to the AHRC Peer Review College in 2020. She also co-founded the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS) and was an elected executive committee member of BACLS from 2017-2019, and re-joined as an ex-officio member in 2023.

Siân Adiseshiah's first book – Churchill’s Socialism: Political Resistance in the Plays of Caryl Churchill (2009) – was based on her PhD. It examined Churchill’s plays in relation to histories of socialist politics, theory, and activism from 1970s-2000. Her second, third, and fourth were co-edited volumes: Twenty-First Century Fiction: What Happens Now (2013); Twenty-First Century Drama: What Happens Now (2016); and debbie tucker green: Critical Perspectives (2020), the latter described as ‘likely to remain the definitive and authoritative study of this major playwright and director for decades to come’ and shortlisted for the Theatre and Performance Research Association Edited Collection Prize in 2021.‌

Her most recent book is with Methuen Drama Bloomsbury: Utopian Drama: In Search of a Genre (2023). It stretches back to classical Greek comedy and includes chapters on early modern and early twentieth-century drama as well as utopian drama and performance from the contemporary period. The book has been reviewed internationally as a ‘fine and nuanced study’, ‘carefully theorized, productively hopeful’ (Jill Dolan), as the ‘first to offer an insightful counter-narrative’ (R. Darren Gobert), ‘epic in historical scope and engaging with an array of interdisciplinary frameworks’ (Elaine Aston), and as a ‘breakthrough intervention that cracks open the scholarly paradigms of both theatre studies and utopian studies’ (Tom Moylan).

Shortlisted for the Theatre and Performance Research Association’s David Bradby Monograph Prize, Utopian Drama was commended by the judges for its ‘rigour, clarity, dynamism, and capaciousness. It is wonderfully ambitious and bold in its historical scope and balance, and successfully rethinks and decentres the idea of utopia and a “utopian drama” as a genre. It will be essential reading for many students and scholars of theatre and performance.

In recent years Siân has been working within the multidisciplinary field of age studies, and has particular interests in old age and performance. Her current book project has the working title ‘Performing Old Age in the Contemporary’. It theorises the contemporary as a discursive formation with ageist exclusions, and analyses the performance of old age in contemporary culture, with particular attention to contemporary theatre.

With colleagues from the Universities of Lincoln and Keele, Siân was co-exhibitor of 'What does growing older mean to us?' at the British Academy’s Summer Showcase in June 2022, and Principal Convenor of the British Academy conference 'Narratives of Old Age and Gender' (London, September 2019). The conference brought together scholars from multiple disciplines, creative practitioners, and experts on ageing from third sector organisations to consider narratives of old age and gender, their limitations, and the potential for alternatives. Siân co-edited a supplementary issue – ‘Narratives of Old Age and Gender: Multi-disciplinary Perspectives’ – of the Journal of the British Academy 11.S2 (2023) based on research presented at the conference, which includes her article ‘Old Age, Gender and Constructions of the Contemporary’.

Siân has held two Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grants as co-investigator (PI: Leslie Hicks): (1) ‘Telling Our Stories’. Support for Heritage Lottery Funded Community Groups £37,601 2013-14; (2) Connected Communities Research Development Award ‘Looking Back for the Future: The Value of the Past in Developing the Lives of Young People’ £19,543 2012.

Since joining Loughborough, Siân has taught on a range of undergraduate modules, and leads an optional third-year module, ‘Better Worlds? Utopian and Dystopian Texts and Contexts'. She has also overseen the validation of a new first-year core module, Introduction to Drama, for which she also delivers teaching.

Siân led the validation of the MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture, which was delivered for the first time in October 2022, and contributes to the teaching of several modules on the MA.

She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Association.

Siân has supervised the following PhD projects to completion:

  • Jennifer Hankin, 'Possible Worlds: Utopian Topographies in Contemporary Installation Art' (2023)
  • Thomas O’Brien, ‘Social class in the novels of Patricia Highsmith’ (2020)
  • Jessica Day ‘Sexual Pleasure and Utopian Desire in Twenty-First Century Fictional Forms and Cultural Practice’ (2019)
  • Andrew Rowcroft, ‘After Post-Marxism: The Recuperation and Regeneration of Marxism in Contemporary British and American Fiction’ (2018)
  • Catherine Parry, ‘The Animal/Human Divide in Contemporary Fiction’ (2016)
  • Emma Young, ‘Contemporary Women’s Short Stories and Feminism’ (2015)

She is currently supervising the following doctoral researchers:

  • Ahlam Maodah, ‘Staging Black Female Voices: Transatlantic dramatisations of Silence, Anger, and Desire in Contemporary Black Theatre’
  • Katie Mulhern, ‘An ever-expanding community of struggle’: Political Agency and Collective Subjectivity in Twenty-first Century Feminist Fiction’
  • Liam Young, ‘Crash Culture and the Speculative Imagination: Economic Alternatives in Post-2008 Speculative Fiction’

She has examined twelve PhDs, three as Internal Examiner and nine as External Examiner (Chichester, Derby, Durham (twice), King’s College London, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Queen Mary University of London (twice)).

Siân is keen to hear from prospective PhD students interested in working on contemporary theatre/literary studies, ageing/old age/generations, utopian and dystopian literature, women’s writing/feminism, and class studies.