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Research and Impact

The department of English Studies is one of Europe’s leading centres for research in literary studies. It fosters important and influential research by staff, post-doctoral fellows and postgraduates across historical, cultural, generic and thematic ranges.
Research groups and centres
Photograph of a castle with words in white projected onto it. The words read: 'Autumnal evenings are a second spring'

Research Culture 

We work collaboratively along particular themes and periods, while we are also involved in a number of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research centres and institutes. A number of visiting academics and other external partners contribute to the research environment of the Department, sometimes as Fellows of the Institute of Advanced Study. 

Our department regularly hosts international conferences, workshops, and public lecture series. Typically, in any one year we organise or co-organise around 80 different events. 

Recent conferences have ranged from Humour and Satire in British Romanticism to Consent: Histories, Representations, and Frameworks for the Future to Thatcher and Thatcherism. We organise research seminars for all staff and postgraduates to engage with visiting speakers, as well as a variety of regular reading groups. Our Late Summer Lectures Series brings the best of postgraduate research to a public audience each year. 

Our department hosts one of the longest-running online postgraduate journals in literary studies, Postgraduate English, which is edited by two PhD students each year. 


Upcoming events

Prayer and Pragmatism: Lancelot Andrewes, William James, Charles Sanders Peirce

Thursday 8 June 2023 - Thursday 8 June 2023
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM

Postgraduate Works in Progress

Wednesday 14 June 2023 - Wednesday 14 June 2023
5:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Elvet Riverside and online
Inventions of the Text

Staff Postgraduate Research Seminar

Thursday 22 June 2023 - Thursday 22 June 2023
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Hand writing in notepad

What's new?


Strengthened connections with the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

We are delighted to announce the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras).
A group of people standing in front of a sign that says Indian Institute of Technology Madras

‘Something that speaks to you in the quiet of the night’: Horror writing with Naomi Booth

This Halloween, Dr Naomi Booth, Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies and award-winning fiction writer tells us about horror writing and the Boggart, a forgotten folklore monster.
Farmhouse on open moorland

Recognition for the Department’s Research Excellence

Our outstanding research environment and our impact on public life, community, and culture have been recognised in the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
Photograph of a castle standing above a river. The text REF20201 Research Excellence Framework is on the front of the image.

Lumiere 2021 – In conversation with Kayo Chingonyi

For this year’s biennial Lumiere light festival Durham University have brought together the producers, Artichoke, and regional writing development agency New Writing North, on an exciting collaboration that will see new works from some of the UK’s leading poets light up Durham Castle. Among them is prize winning writer Kayo Chingonyi, an Assistant Professor in our Department. Here Kayo talks about his involvement and how poetry has been a central part of his life.
Image of Kayo Chingonyi

How Shakespeare was inspired by controversial student theatre

Student theatre may be a staple of undergraduate life today, but in Shakespeare’s time it was controversial and provocative, and may have inspired some of ‘The Bard’s’ most important pieces.
Image showing book of Shakespeare plays open with image of Shakespeare

Remembering Christmas Past

Simon J. James is Professor of Victorian Literature in the Department of English Studies. This festive season he discusses memory in Dickens’ work, and the importance of remembering past versions of ourselves at Christmas.
A Christmas Carol