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The last few years have seen momentum build towards decolonising Literary Studies. Activist and student-led protest movements such as #RhodesMustFall, Black Lives Matter, and Why Is My Curriculum White? have brought the issue of decolonising to the forefront of the academic agenda and accelerated already ongoing work.  The shift towards ‘decolonised learning’ has also since been identified by the Open University as the third most important innovation in educational practice that will shape university teaching over the next ten years (Ferguson et al. 2019).

This one-day event emerges from our AHRC-funded project South African Modernism 1880-2020, which explores the relationships between South African literature, modernism, the postcolonial and the global. This project is positioned to progress debates around the biases in literary studies - including race, gender, class and nation - and support the development of decolonised curricula in literary studies as it brings attention to the relationships between literary form, networks, empire, capital, and aesthetics.

Late-stage PhD students and job-seeking Early Career Researchers are invited to our free, one-day event to explore decolonial practices in teaching and research in Literary Studies. We will discuss the theoretical interventions that have been vital in outlining what decolonisation can mean for literary studies, and also ask: how can a decolonising approach be adopted in practice, in classrooms and in research?


Brian Blatchford Building, University of Salford

11.00:               Welcome


11.15-12:15:     Panel: Teaching and Careers

Panel discussion about decolonising teaching and curricula. Topics covered will include: preparing for the teaching component of academic job interviews, decolonial teaching praxes, decolonial module design.

Chair: Dr Jade Munslow Ong

Discussants: Professor Ursula Hurley (Salford), Dr Emma Barnes (Salford), Dr Kai Syng Tan (MMU)


12:15-13:00       Lunch


13:00-15:15       PGR/ECR Workshop: Module Design

Participants will take part in a career-developing workshop on how to build decolonial principles and praxes into their teaching. The aim of the workshop is to collaboratively design English Literature modules from a decolonial perspective to support preparation for job applications/interviews, and for use in the classroom. These work-in-progress module designs will be made publicly available online to further collaborative learning and research sharing.

Facilitators: Dr Emma Barnes, Dr Sanja Nivesjö, Dr Jade Munslow Ong


15:15-15:30       Break


15:30-17:00       Panel: Decolonising Research

Discussants will provide short pre-recorded talks in advance of the panel and made available online, in which they discuss decolonial practices in their own fields of teaching and research. The pre-recorded talks will serve as the basis for a live online panel, screened for conference participants. Discussions will focus on issues of coloniality, representation and power in various literary fields and the future of these fields, in both research and teaching.

Chair: Dr Sanja Nivesjö

Discussants: Dr Rick Monture (McMaster), Dr Shazia Jagot (York), Dr Rick de Villiers (University of the Free State), Dr Tasnim Qutait (Uppsala)

17:00-17:15      Minibus to MediaCityUK

17:15-18:00      Drinks Reception

18:00-19:00      Film Screening and Q&A with the Filmmakers

Participants at the workshop will be given tickets to attend a screening of the short documentary film, All That Is Buried as part of the national Being Human Festival 2022. The film, made by members of the South African Modernism 1880-2020 team in collaboration with filmmakers Simon Stanton-Sharma and Maire Tracey, shows South African artists and writers reflecting on the relationships between aesthetics and politics, the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, and influences of local traditions and historical figures in their own art. The film features work by musician Dizu Plaatjies, poet Zizipho Bam, artist/activist Haroon Gunn-Salie, and writer Sindiswa Busuku.


19:00                 Optional Dinner (at own expense)


How to take part:

Registration is free (lunch, tea/coffee, transport between venues and wine reception provided) but places are limited to 30.

In-person attendance is required for the workshop element and film screening; all other panels will be recorded and made freely available online. Participants will be asked for their consent for photographs/recordings of the event.

You can book your place via Eventbrite here

Further enquiries, dietary and access requirements can be sent to Sanja, Emma and Jade at

Decolonising Research Panel

Dr Rick de Villiers

University of the Free State, South Africa

Rick de Villiers teaches English literature at the University of the Free State, South Africa. His first book, Eliot and Beckett's Low Modernism: Humility and Humiliation (2021) is published by Edinburgh University Press. 

00:00 / 08:10

Dr Shazia Jagot

University of York, UK

Shazia Jagot’s research brings together her training in both English literature and Near and Middle Eastern Studies in order to explore the connections, both entangled and diffuse, between Western literary culture and the Islamic world during the medieval period. Shazia’s current book project, Distilling Chaucer: Arabic Learning and the Islamic World in Fourteenth-Century England (working title) aims to provide the first composite study of Chaucer’s Arabic ‘sources’.

Dr Tasnim Qutait

Uppsala University, Sweden

Tasnim Qutait's research interests are primarily in postcolonial and transnational literature and the politics of identity and displacement. Her PhD dissertation focused on memory and nostalgia in contemporary Anglo Arab literature.

00:00 / 09:07

Dr Rick Monture

McMaster University, (Turtle Island/Canada)

Rick Monture is a member of the Mohawk nation, Turtle clan, from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Rick’s areas of academic interest include Haudenosaunee history, First Nation, Métis and Inuit literatures, popular culture, and the epistemology of Indigenous language and culture. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Chiefswood National Historic Site at Six Nations, and is a Board member with the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office. He is also a member of the Steering Committee and an Associate Professor with the Indigenous Knowledge Centre located at Six Nations.

Decolonising Teaching Panel

Dr Kai Syng Tan

Manchester Metropolitan University 

Kai is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader at the Manchester School of Art, and is involved in several anti-racism projects. Kai is the EDI Lead in the Department of Art and Performance; Advisory Board Member at the Research Centre for the Study of Race and Racism; Lead of the Race Equality Activities Planning Group and University Disability Forum.


Professor Ursula Hurley

University of Salford

Ursula is a Professor in Creative Writing and is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the School of Arts and Media. Ursula is currently involved in a project entitled 'Decolonising the PhD'.

Dr Emma Barnes

University of Salford

Emma is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century and World Literatures and a Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded project 'South African Modernism 1880-2020'. Emma is also a member of the Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies at the University of Kent, and is part of the Victorian Diversities Network.

AHRC Arts Humanities