Dr Rick Crownshaw

Rick works extensively in the field of memory and trauma studies, American literature (particularly of the twentieth and twenty-first century), and the Environmental Humanities (culture and climate change, the Anthropocene and oil).

Staff details

Dr Rick Crownshaw


Senior Lecturer


English and Creative Writing


r.crownshaw (@gold.ac.uk)

Dr Rick Crownshaw was appointed by Goldsmiths in 2005, before which he was a lecturer in the Department of American Studies, Keele University, 2000-2001, and the Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2001-2005. 

Academic qualifications

  • BA English and American Studies (Keele University, 1993)
  • MA in Post-1945 American Literature and Literary Theory (University of Sussex, 1994)
  • DPhil in American Literature (University of Sussex, 2000)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Open University, 2001)



  • Inventing the Nation: American Literature in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
  • Introduction to American Literature and Culture
  • The American South
  • Modern American Fiction
  • Hollywood Cinema, 1945 to the Present Day


  • Twenty-First-Century American Fiction
  • American Literature and Culture: Critical and Theoretical Concepts
  • The Contemporary American Novel in the Era of Climate Change

Current administrative duties

  • Programme Coordinator and Admissions Tutor for the Pathway in American Literature and Culture, MA in Literary Studies
  • Chair, MA Teaching and Learning Committee 

Areas of PhD supervision

I have supervised doctoral theses on Holocaust memoryscapes, and nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature and culture (with a particular emphasis on memory and trauma). So far, I have supervised six theses to completion.

Current projects under my supervision include the posthuman in contemporary European and American fiction, and Holocaust literature, memorialisation and the new materialism. In addition to the above areas, I am keen to supervise projects on contemporary American fiction, cultural memory and trauma studies, and representations of Anthropocene (including narratives of climate change/oil/fossil fuels more generally/energy/environmental catastrophe/speculative and science fiction).

Publications and research outputs


Crownshaw, Richard. 2010. The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230581876

Edited Book

Crownshaw, Richard, ed. 2014. Transcultural Memory. London and NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415824484

Edited Journal

Craps, Stef and Crownshaw, Richard, eds. 2018. Studies in the Novel Special Issue: The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction, Studies in the Novel, 50(1). 0039-3827

Book Section

Crownshaw, Richard. 2023. The Entangled Times of COVID, Climate, and Race in the US Reading the “Heterotemporality” of Colson Whitehead's Zone One. In: Sibylle Baumbach and Birgit Neumann, eds. Temporalities in/of Crises of Anglophone Literatures. New York: Routledge, pp. 61-79. ISBN 9781003348122

Crownshaw, Richard. 2023. Remembering the Anthropocene in the Literature of War: Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. In: Lucy Bond and Jessica Rapson, eds. New Directions in Literature and Memory. Palgrave Macmillan.

Crownshaw, Richard. 2020. Climate Change Perpetrators: Ecocriticism, Implicated Subjects, and Anthropocene Fiction. In: Susanne C. Knittel and Zachary J. Goldberg, eds. The Routledge International Handbook of Perpetrator Studies. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781138103245


Craps, Stef and Crownshaw, Richard. 2018. Introduction: The Rising Tide of Climate Change Fiction. Studies in the Novel, 50(1), pp. 1-8. ISSN 0039-3827

Crownshaw, Richard. 2017. Climate Change Fiction and the Future of Memory: Speculating on Nathaniel Rich's Odds against Tomorrow. Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 4(2-3), pp. 127-146. ISSN 2330-8117

Crownshaw, Richard. 2017. Speculative memory, the planetary and genre fiction. Textual Practice, 31(5), pp. 887-910. ISSN 0950-236X

Research Interests

Current research 

I am currently working on a monograph, Remembering the Anthropocene in Contemporary American Fiction, which focuses on, among other things, the potential of cultural memory and trauma studies in analyzing literary narratives of climate change, extinction, pollution and toxicity in the American South, the resourcing of war, American petrocultures, and post-oil imaginaries.

Previous research

The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture:

As living memories of the Holocaust die out with the generation that witnessed the event, practitioners of memory work have focused on the transmission of memory to the next generations. Recent Holocaust memorialisation, in the form of literature, museums, memorials and monuments, must make Holocaust memory meaningful for those born after the event. With this in mind, the arts of Holocaust memorialisation often provoke a sense of secondary memory or vicarious witnessing, an attempt to experience Holocaust memory or even trauma by proxy– in short, the remembrance of things not witnessed.

Recent academic theories of Holocaust memory and trauma are correspondent with these current memorial practices. The problem with this theoretical paradigm, which seems to be shaping current memorial projects of different genres, is that it overlooks the way post-Holocaust memory work can become appropriative, displacing or colonising the memories of witnesses, replacing their trauma with a kind of equivalent experienced vicariously. Such a memorial regime, in which trauma becomes universalised and homogenised, tends to lose sight of the specificity of particular acts of remembering, the identities formed in relation to the remembrance of past events, and the ethical and political questions raised by those acts and identifications.

This book, Afterlife, identifies the ethical implications of such memory work where it becomes appropriative and universalising. Afterlife theorises more robustly the transmission or inheritance of trauma via Holocaust memorials, monuments, museums, and literature in order to differentiate types of trauma and traumatized identities and to reinstall the particularities of memory work. Afterlife investigates the ethical and political ramifications of different instances and practices of memory work and of the identities produced by such work. Afterlife does this by scrutinizing theoretical approaches to the work of W.G. Sebald and Bernard Schlink, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the museum and memorial architecture of Daniel Libeskind and Peter Eisenman, and generates a series of more self-reflexive readings of such representations of the Holocaust.

Recent research networks

Editorial Boards and Refereeing

  • Member of editorial board for the journal Memory Studies (Sage)
  • I have refereed submissions to the following journals: Textual Practice; Seminar, A Journal of Germanic Studies; Patterns of Prejudice; Journal of Modern Jewish Studies; Journal of Material Culture; Journal of Romance Studies; Women: A Cultural Review; Memory Studies; Comparative Literature; Journal of War and Culture Studies; Journal of American Studies; Cinema Journal
  • I have refereed book manuscripts and proposals for the following publishers: Routledge; Berghahn Books; Transaction; Palgrave Macmillan; Manchester University Press; and Fordham University Press.
  • I have referred research projects/grant applications proposed to the AHRC, Flemish Research Council, and Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology.