Professor Carole-Anne Sweeney

Staff details


Professor of Modern Literature


English and Creative Writing


c.sweeney (

My teaching and research focuses on gender, feminism, race and modernism and on contemporary women's writing

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-Anne. 2024. This Reality Thing: Anna Kavan’s Mid-Century Writing. Women: A Cultural Review, ISSN 0957-4042

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

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.