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Name: Shantel Edwards

PhD: PhD English Literature at the University of Birmingham

Thesis Title: "Marketing Exoticism": Mixed Race Identities and Contemporary British Fiction

Thesis Description: My research interests concern the ways in which discourses of mixed race identity are constructed in contemporary British society and literature, with specific reference to the role of literature (and its various marketing and media agents) in constructing and challenging these discourses. My thesis will investigate the ways in which discourses surrounding mixed race are constructed through literary texts, academic criticism and popular discussion, using mixed race authors such as Zadie Smith, Hanif Kureishi and Monica Ali as case studies. My By investigating the ways in which mixed race authors are discussed in interviews, media profiles and marketing campaigns, my project will examine the effect of reading and representing authors with a racialised focus by external critical audiences in comparison to the internal representations of race in their fiction.As the UK’s fastest growing ethnic group, critical attention regarding mixed race identity is essential and there is a tendency in cultural and critical discourse to subsume the notion of mixed race identity into all encompassing terms such as 'Black-British' or 'British Asian', which contributes to the erasure of mixed race as a valid identity and inhibits the progression of attitudes towards race in Britain. Academic critics acknowledge the issue of racially segregating literature, whilst continuing to use these terms due to a lack of workable discourse with which to account for mixed race identity. My thesis will address the need to open a dialogue regarding mixed race and bring a discussion of mixed race identity into the field of literary studies.ways in which race becomes implicated in those marketing discourses to explore what sense of mixed race is constructed through them and how these ideas feed into, or challenge, contemporary approaches and attitudes towards race relations in Britain. My project will also examine the ways in which mixed race is represented and discussed within the works of the authors themselves, to investigate what sense of mixed race identity they suggest and how this functions within, or against, contemporary attitudes towards race.

Placement: Since March 2016 I have been undertaking a placement at Nottingham Contemporary art gallery, working with the Centre for Research in Race and Rights, New Art Exchange and Galleries of Justice on an Arts Council Research Grant. The project team are investigating ways in which arts programming can be used to impact on experiences of isolation in minority communities within Nottingham. From March - July 2016 I worked with the project team on the Expression of Interest and the full application and we received confirmation that the application had been successful in October. Since then I have been working with the team on the initial stages of the research, including collecting baseline research data and starting the ethnographic field work. We will be disseminating some of the early stages of the project work at an Arts Council event in March 2017 and at an art gallery Engage event in Leicester in March 2017. I will be working with the team on the project until September 2017.

Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Danielle Fuller (University of Birmingham), Dr Dave Gunning (University of Birmingham) and Dr Jenni Ramone (Nottingham Trent University)

Other Research Interests:

  • Postcolonial literature
  • Black British writing
  • British Asian writing
  • Race relations in contemporary Britain
  • Publishing and print culture
  • Contemporary feminist writing