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  • Writer's pictureHannah Helm

New Article: ‘“Make Them Roll in Their Graves”: South African Writing, Decolonisation, and the English Literature A-Level’

Our newest co-authored article, entitled ‘“Make Them Roll in Their Graves”: South African Writing, Decolonisation, and the English Literature A-Level’, has been published by the English in Education journal. The article includes primary textual analysis, pedagogical reflection, and reviews of impact data to examine how new understandings of the relationship between South African and other modernisms might change how modernism is taught as part of the English Literature A-Level, as well as the educational, personal and social benefits of this for young learners.

You can read the article Open Access here.

The article was co-written by Hannah Helm, Emma Barnes, Katie Barnes and Jade Munslow Ong, and analyses the activities and early outcomes of an ongoing co-designed and co-delivered research impact project to decolonise the English Literature A-Level. This project has rapidly expanded since January 2021 and the article draws on examples from three case studies, classroom experiences, and student and teacher feedback to show how efforts to support the decolonisation of taught content and pedagogies aimed at A-Level learners can generate benefits for students relating to knowledge and understanding; skills development; personal motivation and wellbeing; academic attainment; and educational and career ambitions and prospects.


The team received internal QR funding from the University of Salford (£2557) to write our article during a five-day on-campus writing retreat, which took place at the University of Salford in June 2023. The grant provided our project team with dedicated time and space for concentrated, distraction-free, and collaborative research and writing on campus, and we managed to produce a full draft of the article by the end of the week. Following the writing retreat, the team redrafted and edited the article before submission in September 2023, and our article was accepted – pending minor revisions – in October 2023.


On the final day of the writing retreat, the team also hosted an afternoon research showcase about the South African Modernism 1880-2020 project for the colleagues in the School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. The aim of this event was to develop new contacts, networks, and associated research projects. The afternoon had a great turnout, and over three hours colleagues enjoyed listening to different talks relating to our work, including an overview of the project by Jade Munslow Ong; an account of our decolonising work in schools with A-Level English Literature students by Katie Barnes, Christopher Turner and Hannah Helm; a research paper by Emma Barnes on Olive Schreiner and the New Women of New Zealand, which was based on her chapter in the recently published co-edited collection Olive Schreiner: Writing Networks and Global Contexts; an exploration of interracial desire in early twentieth-century South Africa by Sanja Nivesjö; and a screening of the project film All That is Buried, with associated paper by directors Simon Stanton-Sharma and Maire Tracey based on their recently published article in the journal Media Practice and Education: ‘The Making of All That Is Buried: Dialog, Chronotope and Decoloniality’.

After the showcase, we all enjoyed a post-event dinner at The Alchemist restaurant to continue conversations that emerged throughout the afternoon – a great end to a great week!



We would like to thank the University of Salford, the AHRC North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership, and the AHRC for funding the activities outlined in this article. We are also hugely grateful to our other teaching team members, colleagues and students at the University of Salford, and participating sixth form colleges and groups for their warm welcomes, continuing interest, and enthusiastic involvement.

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