Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Literary Studies

Part of Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

Upwards view of curved bookcase in large library

Creating new knowledge, encouraging debate, and promoting critical thinking

Humanities research, specifically literary studies, continues to lead innovative critical thinking on contemporary problems. Our new research centre will take up this challenge, seek to lead in this area, and ensure that our researchers are linked to the latest developments in our fields and others with which we might engage in the future.

Our Centre champions interdisciplinary collaboration, and has an exciting research team including members from across the University and externally. We welcome academic colleagues from all disciplines, including postgraduate researchers, postgraduate students, and undergraduate students who share our passion for literary studies and who wish to collaborate, and be involved with our research and future initiatives.


Meet our members
Enhancing existing research in:
law and literature archival studies scholarly editing translation studies psychoanalytic approaches to literature science fiction utopian studies
law and literature

Our research

Our understanding of the object of literary studies is not restricted to national identity or language. Our research goals are to explore the extent to which interdisciplinarity is embedded in literary studies for the 21st century.

Over the next few years, we aim to:

  • foster interdisciplinary collaborations
  • spark challenging research questions
  • nurture vital new research
  • reach wider audiences and communities
  • raise the profile of our research environment locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally
  • enhance developments of longstanding projects

Our objectives for the Centre are to identify, prioritise, and pursue specific research questions, such as:

  • how can literature help test what it means to be human?
  • what role has the graphic novel had in addressing human rights issues?
  • what is the legacy of new writing for the stage in campus theatres in higher education?

Collaborating with researchers

Over the next few years, it's our mission to enhance existing research at Essex in areas such as law and literature, archival studies, scholarly editing, translation studies, psychoanalytic approaches to literature, science fiction, and utopian studies. In the coming years, we intend to enhance further consolidations of research in the literature of the US and Americas, literature and migration, literature and medical humanities, and literature and environment.

Potential research development and enhancements will be welcomed in collaboration with some of our other existing research clusters as shown below, where we aim to encourage and build upon existing related research strengths.

Research projects

  • Professor Katharine Cockin: AHRC Ellen Terry and Edith Craig Database and AHRC Searching for Theatrical Ancestors project.
  • Professor Maria Christina Fumagalli: Derek Walcott’s Painters: A Life with Pictures (EUP, 2023)
  • Painting the Caribbean (1850-1904)
  • Professor Katharine Cockin, Dr Sean Seeger, Dr Javier Andreu-Perex, and Dr Daniel O'Brien: Reading Robots

Impacting education and career development

Are you an undergraduate, postgraduate, or postgraduate research student? Our Centre is committed to enhancing your education and providing opportunities for career development to all those studying at the University of Essex.

From building clear pathways that help you transition from undergraduate study, right through to postgraduate research study, providing opportunities for research supervision, providing mentoring opportunities through our links with the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE), helping early career researchers with obtaining early feedback, and educating our students through mentorship with grant application training and much more.

We'll also be providing the opportunity for you to gain paid work experience by joining our Centre through the Frontrunner Scheme. More information will be provided soon. In the meantime, please get in touch with Professor Katharine Cockin at k.m.cockin@essex.ac.uk if you have any questions.

Our events

As members, we're excited to host a wide range of events over the coming years, both nationally, and internationally, online and in person. These events will include public engagement activities, workshops, and a regular book club amongst more. We have a strong vision for creating opportunities to provide a voice for new communities of readers and share our experiences through knowledge exchange networks.

All upcoming events can be found on our events calendar:


Browse upcoming events

Research outputs

Grants and fellowships

Please visit our team members' staff profiles to find out more about all research grants and fellowships.

As a Centre, we are committed to sustainability and will ensure that our proposed activities are responsive to and influenced by the acknowledgement of the climate and ecological emergency.