Professor Carole-Anne Sweeney

Staff details

Position Professor of Modern Literature
Email c.sweeney (
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7463

My research and teaching focuses on repesentations of race, class, sexualities and gender in modern and contemporary literature and culture. My first book, From Fetish to Subject: Race, Modernism and Primitivism, examined the modernist iconography of the female black body in the interwar era and the ways in which anti-colonial and decolonising movements opposed cultural primitivism. My second book was Michel Houellebecq & The Literature of Despair which examined anti-feminism, neoliberalism and racism. My most recent book, Vagabond Fictions: Gender and Experiment in British Women's Literature 1945-1970, examines the evolution of feminism, experimental writing, and sexual identity in post-war Britain. My new book project, Home Bodies: Writing the New Feminist Domestic, includes work on feminist life-writing, ecofeminism, the domestic sublime, queer homemaking and representation of domestic life during 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland.

Academic qualifications

  • DPhil English University of Sussex 2001
  • MA English, Simon Fraser University 1992

Teaching and Supervision

I have supervised and examined Phds on Jean Rhys, Virginia Woolf, modernist children's literature, ecocriticism, queer modernisms and Michel Houellebecq.

I am interested in supervising Phds on all aspects of gender and sexuality in contemporary women's writing; gender and feminist theory; race, anti-colonialism and modernism; neoliberalism in contemporary fiction.

I would particularrly welcome PG studenst working on any of these women writers: Anna Burns; Anna Kavan; Elizabeth Bowen; Christine Brooke-Rose; Annie Ernaux; Zadie Smith; Ann Quin; Brigid Brophy;Alison Bechdel; Olga Tokarczuk, Elena Ferrante and Zadie Smith.

I am also interested in creative criticism as a feminist practice, autofiction and cultural responses to the # metoo movement as potential areas for MRes, Mphil and Phd research.

  • BA English: Writing, Culture and Society, Shakespeare's Sisters: Women's Writing: 1960s to the present
  • MA Literary Studies, Pathway Convenor, Modern & Contemporary Literature

Research interests

I teach and research on gender, feminism, sexuuality in modern and contemporary writing at both UG and PG level. My work adressses the broader political contexts of contemporary writing as well as examining anti-colonial responses to cultural modernism in the early 20th century. My MA And BA modules are cutting-edge, research-led providing an overview of the rich variety of women’s writing across a range of genres and from diverse cultural, critical and historical perspectives. Organised under a number of thematic headings covering debates around definitions of a 'woman' and women’s’ writing; the variety of feminisms; transgression; the # metoo effect, and Black Lives Matter, these module offer an engagement with the changing contexts of women writers, critics and readers in the twenty-first century where gender, race and class might be examined from new perspectives. I have recently developed a new MA module called Reading and Wrting Creative Criticism: From Montaigne to Me Too that includes writing by Zadie Smith, Lucia Berlin, Kathy Acker, Maggie Nelson, Elena Ferrante, Edwidge Danticat, Annie Ernaux, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Claudia Rankine, and Leonora Carrington. This new project will use contemporary feminist and queer theory to examine the interactions between creative writing and criticism to encourage a more creative practice of literary scholarship that brings together research and creativity. As a complement to my teaching and research in gender and writing, I also run an extra-curricular Feminist Reading Group which offers an inclusive, informal space for students to respond creatively and critically to key works in the feminist canon and to discuss the everyday experiences of gender and sexualities from a diversity of perspectives.

Publications and research outputs


Sweeney, Carole. 2020. Vagabond Fictions: Gender and Experiment in British Women's Fiction, 1945-1970. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474426176

Sweeney, Carole. 2013. Michel Houellebecq and the Literature of Despair. London: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9780826422620

Sweeney, Carole. 2004. From Fetish to Subject: Race, Modernism and Primitivism, 1919-1935. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0275977471

Edited Journal

Boldrini, Lucia and Sweeney, Carole, eds. 2013. Fractured, Travelling, Transformed Narratives, Comparative Critical Studies, 10(3-supp). 1744-1854

Book Section

Sweeney, Carole. 2021. I’m a Woman Experimental Writer … Get Me Out of Here! In: Andrew Radford and Hannah Van Hove, eds. British Experimental Women’s Fiction, 1945—1975: Slipping Through the Labels. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 279-284. ISBN 9783030727659

Sweeney, Carole. 2020. Brigid Brophy, The Dissenting Feminist. In: Richard Canning and Gerri Kimber, eds. Brigid Brophy: Avant-Garde Writer, Critic, Activist. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9781474462662

Sweeney, Carole. 2016. 'After Beauvoir: French Feminism and The Question of Difference'. In: Stuart Sim, ed. The Edinburgh Companion to Critical Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748693399

Sweeney, Carole. 2016. After de Beauvoir: 'French' Feminism & Sexual Difference. In: Stuart Sim, ed. The Edinburgh Companion to Critical Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748693399

Sweeney, Carole. 2010. Race, Modernism and Institutions. In: Nicky Marsh and Peter Middleton, eds. Teaching Modernist Poetry. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 77-93. ISBN 9780230202320

Sweeney, Carole. 2010. 'Race, Writing and Institutions'. In: Nick Marsh and Peter Middleton, eds. Teaching Modernist Poetry. London: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-0230202337

Sweeney, Carole. 2005. ‘Josephine Baker’, ‘Haiti’, ‘Joseph Zobel’, ‘Claude McKay’. In: Bill Marshall, ed. France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History (Transatlantic Relations). ABC-CLIO Ltd. ISBN 978-1851094110

Sweeney, Carole. 1997. C.E. Gittings Imperialism and Gender and Bruce King ed. National And Postcolonial Literature. In: Jean Howard; Alan Sinfield and Lindsay Smith, eds. Textual Practice: Volume 11 Issue 2: Vol 11, Issue 2. Routledge, pp. 349-352. ISBN 978-0415161763


Sweeney, Carole. 2023. See the old ladies decently: 'Ageing and Embodiment in Christine Brooke-Rose’s Life, End Of.'. Polish Journal of English Studies, ISSN 2545-0131

Sweeney, Carole. 2020. Cadaverised girls: the writing of Anna Kavan. Textual Practice, 34(4), pp. 647-668. ISSN 0950-236X

Sweeney, Carole. 2019. ‘Le mot déclin est presque trop doux’: Michel Houellebecq’s (Euro)déclinisme. Modern and Contemporary France, 27(1), pp. 45-59. ISSN 0963-9489

Sweeney, Carole. 2018. "Why This Rather Than That?": The Delightful Perversity of Brigid Brophy. Contemporary Womens Writing, 12(2), pp. 233-247. ISSN 1754-1476

Sweeney, Carole. 2018. ‘Groping Inside Language’: Translation, Humour and Experiment in Christine Brooke-Rose’s Between and Brigid Brophy’s In Transit. Textual Practice, 32(2), pp. 301-316. ISSN 0950-236X

Sweeney, Carole. 2017. 'Keeping the Ruins Private': Anna Kavan and Heroin Addiction. Women: A Cultural Review, 28(4), pp. 312-326. ISSN 0957-4042

Sweeney, Carole. 2013. Introduction: Fractured, Travelling, and Transformed Narratives. Comparative Critical Studies, 10(Supp), pp. 1-10. ISSN 1744-1854

Sweeney, Carole. 2012. Natural Women? Anti-Feminism and Michel Houellebecq's Plateforme. Modern & Contemporary France, 20(3), pp. 323-336. ISSN 0963-9489

Sweeney, Carole. 2012. “And yet some free time remains. . . .”: Post-Fordism and Writing in Michel Houellebecq's Whatever. Journal of Modern Literature, 33(4), pp. 41-56. ISSN 0022-281X

Sweeney, Carole. 2011. Fin de millénaire French Fiction: The Aesthetics of Crisis. Modern and Contemporary France, 19(3), pp. 367-368. ISSN 0963-9489

Sweeney, Carole. 2007. The Unmaking of the World: Haiti, History and Writing in Edouard Glissant and Edwige Danticat. Atlantic Studies, 4(1), pp. 51-66. ISSN 14788810

Sweeney, Carole. 2007. Experimental Nations: Or, the Invention of the Maghreb. Comparative Literature Studies, 44(1-2), pp. 208-211. ISSN 0010-4132

Sweeney, Carole. 2005. `One of them, but white': The Disappearance of Negro: An anthology (1934). Women a Cultural Review, 16(1), pp. 93-107. ISSN 09574042

Sweeney, Carole. 2005. ‘Le tour du monde en quatre jours’: empire, exhibition, and the surrealist disorder of things. Textual Practice, 19(1), pp. 131-147. ISSN 0950-236X

Sweeney, Carole and Clarke, Jackie. 2005. France and America: Introduction. Nottingham French Studies, 44(3), pp. 1-3. ISSN 0029-4586

Sweeney, Carole. 2004. Resisting the Primitive: The Nardal Sisters, La Revue du Monde Noir and La Dépêche Africaine. Nottingham French Studies, 43(2), pp. 45-55. ISSN 0029-4586

Sweeney, Carole. 2003. Vestimentary identities: the politics of dress in everyday life. Journal of Romance Studies, 3(2), pp. 95-101. ISSN 1473-3536

Sweeney, Carole. 2001. La Revue Nègre: négrophilie, modernity and colonialism in inter-war France. Journal of Romance Studies, 1(2), pp. 1-14. ISSN 1473-3536

Sweeney, Carole. 2000. ‘Diasporic Voices in Pre-Negritude Paris’. Southampton Papers in Language and Culture, 1,

Further profile content

Media engagements

BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking on Anna Kavan
Chris Power, Carole Sweeney, Victoria Walker and Sally Marlow, Radio 3's researcher in residence, join Matthew Sweet to discuss the troubled life and powerful work of Anna Kavan.