Dr Sarah Barnsley

Staff details

Dr Sarah Barnsley


Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature


English and Creative Writing


s.barnsley (@gold.ac.uk)

Goldsmiths Research Centres/Groups

  • Goldsmiths Compassion Collective
  • GoldHealth (cross-College, interdisciplinary network of researchers with interests in health studies)

American literature, Mary Barnard, modernism, poetry and poetics, creative writing, medical humanities

Sarah Barnsley is Senior Lecturer in English and American Literature, with research interests in American literature, Mary Barnard, modernism (particularly late modernisms), poetry and poetics, creative writing and, more recently, the medical humanities - specifically applications of neuroscience within creative/critical practices. She is Programme Director for the BA/DipHE/CertHE English programmes (by distance-learning) at University of London Worldwide (UoLW).

Academic qualifications

  • PhD English, Goldsmiths College, University of London 2006
  • MA ELT & Applied Linguistics, King’s College, University of London 2001
  • BA (Hons) American and English Literature, University of East Anglia 1997

Teaching and supervision

BA (Hons) English, MA Literary Studies: Comparative Literature and Criticism

Research interests

I write creatively and critically. As a researcher, I have been H.D Visiting Fellow in American Literature at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, which helped me complete my first book, 'Mary Barnard, American Imagist' (SUNY Press, 2013). My edition of Mary Barnard’s 'Complete Poems' is forthcoming. As a poet, my pamphlet, 'The Fire Station' (Telltale Press, 2015), explored experiences growing up in the Midlands where my dad was a firefighter. My lived experience of psychological pain is the focus of my first full collection of poems, 'The Thoughts,' (Smith|Doorstop, 2022). Long-term creative and research interests in literature are complemented by developing interests in the medical humanities, specifically neuroscience and positive psychology - and how such fields might be applied in creative/critical contexts. Particular enthusiasms include ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), meditation, Mindful Self-Compassion and positive neuroplasticity.

Grants and awards

2020: Founders’ Research Travel Award
British Association of American Studies

2014: Joint runner-up
Poetry School/Pighog Pamphlet Competition

2007: H.D. Visiting Fellow in American Literature
Beinecke Library, Yale University

Publications and research outputs


Barnsley, Sarah. 2022. The Thoughts. Sheffield: Smith|Doorstop. ISBN 9781914914027

Barnsley, Sarah. 2015. The Fire Station. Lewes: Telltale Press. ISBN 9780992855536

Barnsley, Sarah. 2013. Mary Barnard, American Imagist. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-4855-8

Edited Book

Barnsley, Sarah, ed. 2024. Mary Barnard - Complete Poems. Albany, New York: SUNY Press.

Barnsley, Sarah; Houghton, Robin and Kenny, Peter, eds. 2018. Truths: A Telltale Press Anthology. Eastbourne: Telltale Press. ISBN 978-0-9928555-5-0

Book Section

Barnsley, Sarah. 2020. Ode in the wrong time and place [POEM]. In: , ed. Live Canon Anthology 2020. Live Canon, p. 56. ISBN 9781909703841

Barnsley, Sarah. 2018. My stay in that hotel was just out of a magazine [POEM]. In: , ed. Live Canon 2018 Anthology. Live Canon, pp. 38-39. ISBN 9781909703360


Barnsley, Sarah. 2023. Listen to the nightwatchman of the body [POEM]. Finished Creatures(8), p. 70.

Barnsley, Sarah. 2023. OCD, metaphor, and me: the horse that can’t eat apples. The Lancet Psychiatry, 10(3), pp. 170-171. ISSN 2215-0366

Barnsley, Sarah. 2022. The Human Nervous System Has No Delete Button [Poem]. The Frogmore Papers(100), p. 19. ISSN 0956-0106

Professional projects

I am committed to mental health activism and advocacy in service of the greater good and to this end am a member of the Goldsmiths Compassion Collective, inspired by Compassion in Education. I am also Contributing Editor to The Understory Conversation, an online hub for creatives.

Conferences and talks

2023: Association for Medical Humanities Annual International Conference
Presenter, 'The poetics of uncertainty: an autoethnographic approach'

2023: Translation and Creative Practice - An in-person symposium on building capacity for practice research, Goldsmiths, University of London
Presenter, 'Translating the Brain: Poetry and Neuroscience'

2022: National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) Annual Conference, Online
Co-Presenter, 'The Understory Conversation: a new way of building resilience, balance and inclusivity'

2018: Creating (and) the Critical: The critical component of practice-based PhDs, CHASE consortium conference, Goldsmiths, University of London
Roundtable participant, panel chair and workshop co-facilitator

2017: National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) Annual Conference, York
Panel Organiser and Speaker ‘PhDs in Creative Writing: The Critical Component’

2017: Remaking the New: Modernism and Textual Scholarship Conference, British Association of Modernist Studies, Queen Mary, University of London
Speaker, ‘“Sent to Rapallo…”: Mary Barnard and the Modernist List’

2015: MLA Annual Convention 2015, Vancouver, Canada
Panel Organiser (‘Late Modernism in Manhattan’) and Presenter (‘Late Imagism in Manhattan: Mary Barnard, Babette Deutsch and May Swenson’)

2014: Contemporary Innovative Poetry Series, Institute for English Studies
‘Manhattan and Modernist Memory: The “new” New York Poets’

Module teaching, PhD supervision

I am convenor of the following undergraduate modules:

  • 'Contemporary London Poetry' (Level 5 - creative/critical module);
  • ‘The Emergence of Modern America: American Literature 1890-1940’ (Level 6);
  • ‘Poetry since 1945’ (Level 6).

I lecture on ‘Introduction to Poetry’, ‘Moderns’, '(Re)writing America' at undergraduate level; at postgraduate level I lecture on ‘Modern Literary Movements’ and tutor for the MA in Creative and Life Writing.

I welcome PhD proposals in any area of modern and contemporary poetry. Current and recent PhD projects supervised/examined include:

• Sylvia Plath, ‘performativity’ and the ‘author function’;
• ‘play’ in contemporary poetry;
• intersecting Sylvia Plath and the Gothic in found poetics practice;
• Louis MacNeice at the BBC;
• an argument for hybridity;
• the modernist poetics of Benjamin, H.D. and Mina Loy.