Criticism and interpretation

Critically engaging with the world and interpreting its challenges
Critical practice informs our engagement with textual, visual and digital forms. We engage with the arts and cultural sector, media, the public service and industry, bringing critical thinking to bear in shaping and refining public discourse. 

Criticism and interpretation underpin our capacity to respond to global challenges. Critical thinking is central to everything we do in our daily lives. It ensures the quality of public debate, education and cultural practice. 

Our research engages with a wide range of forms from mediaeval to contemporary representations but is united in its critical commitment to nuancing the ways in which we interpret the world. Our research understands theory as a site for interrogation and reflection rather than application. 

We work across academic disciplines and beyond to generate high-impact scholarly work that intervenes in key public debates about the arts, culture, media and public policy. We address and contribute to public discourse about such urgent global challenges as climate change, migration, indigeneity, gender politics, health communication, and racial and sexual diversity. 

Our current areas of focus include:

The ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’; autotheory; post-critique; theories of reading including descriptive and surface reading and reader response theory; psychoanalytic criticism; object relations; literary theory; political economic theory; cognitive literary studies; affect theory; ordinary language philosophy; institutional critique.

Style and ethics; the genealogy of aesthetic concepts; contemporary art practices; poetry and poetics; metaphor and metonymy; Medievalism; the eighteenth-century history of art writing and art criticism, including Diderot and Hazlitt.

The hsitory of criticism.

Theories of the gift and cultural exchange; East-West aesthetics; Pacific literature and art; Ottoman art; Jewish-Palestinian writing; comparative literature; global modernisms; cultural economics.

Mid-century French film theory and questions of interpretation; self-translation, the Bildungsroman.

Intellectual history; book history; reception studies; literary history; art history; the new historicism; historicisms.

The bildungsroman; painting; sculpture; film; the novel; drama; poetry, the aesthetics and politics of form

Film as a visual and textual form, with a focus on how such forms engage with larger aesthetic movements and traditions.

Ecocriticism; contemporary visual art; comics studies.

The closet; the ‘coupled voice’; queer identities; gender and queer performativity; interrogations of autotheory.

First, second and third wave, feminism; feminist interest in the performative nature of language; gender identity; drag.

Indigenous Art; Indigenous literature; Indigenous performance; Indigenist theory; indigenising curatorial practice; Everywhen; decolonisation practices; Indigenous art theory.

African American literature; Middle Eastern art; Black print culture; East-West aesthetics; Orientalism.

Archive studies and digital textual criticism.

Textual criticism; editorial theory and practice; print-making theory and aesthetics.

Indigenous material culture; museum studies; thing theory; visual culture; photography; the book (particularly the novel) as object of circulation; the ‘lives of texts’; collection histories; acquisition, classification and display of objects; the archive.

Media and digital texts and systems; ‘Strategic Stories’, media and cultural studies, media and digital texts and systems; film-and-literature.

Global intellectual history; world literature studies; transnational criticism; the Global South.

The relationship between literary culture and mass entertainment; the vernacular; periodicals and the popular press.

The fin de siècle; Modernist studies; twentieth-century avant gardes; nineteenth-century avant gardes; the contemporary.

The textualization of war; health communication; prevention campaigns; discourse studies; leadership theory; artistic, cultural, social and political forms of creative expression; ecocriticism; literature education; the culture industry; embedding Indigeneity into public discourse; the use of stories to link science and activism in global movements for climate justice and post-human Earth systems.

Our people

Hero image credit: Albrecht Dürer, Melencolia I, 1514. 

Related articles