School of English

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Sarah Davison

Assistant Professor in English Literature, Faculty of Arts



BA (Oxford); MA (London); DPhil (Oxford)

I did my undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature at St Anne's College, University of Oxford. I then did my MA in Issues in Modern Culture at UCL, before returning to Oxford to do a DPhil on the role of parody in modernist literature. I joined the School of English at the University of Nottingham in January 2008.

Expertise Summary

Modernist literatures; James Joyce; Imagism; Ezra Pound; Virginia Woolf; the European Avant-Garde; modernist magazines; modernity; parody, adaptation and intertextuality; genetic criticism; comic writing.

Teaching Summary

Undergraduate Teaching: I convene our core first year literature module, 'Studying Literature', which introduces strategies for reading a diverse range of literary texts from 1500 to the present day.… read more

Research Summary

I am fascinated by modernism and its literatures. My second monograph, Modernist Parody: Imitation, Origination, and Experimentation in Early Twentieth-Century Literature, is forthcoming with Oxford… read more

Selected Publications

I would be delighted to hear from students who wish to undertake a PhD in modernist literature or early twentieth-century literary culture more broadly. My interests span a range of authors, themes and methodologies, including:

  • James Joyce
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Ezra Pound
  • Max Beerbohm
  • Little magazines
  • Comedy, satire and parody
  • Intertextuality, allusion, influence and adaptation
  • Genetic criticism and manuscript studies
  • The history of criticism

Undergraduate Teaching: I convene our core first year literature module, 'Studying Literature', which introduces strategies for reading a diverse range of literary texts from 1500 to the present day. At level two, I teach 'Modern and Contemporary Literature: 1910-present', which goes all the way from E.M. Forster's Howards End (1910) to On Beauty (2005), Zadie Smith's witty, expansively multicultural re-write of Forster's masterpiece, and covers a lot of ground in between! At level three, I teach the James Joyce strand of 'Single Author Study', which gives our students a special opportunity to get to grips with Joyce's highly experimental and endlessly fascinating novel Ulysses (1922). I also supervise undergraduate dissertations on a range of topics, including: modernism and modernity; gender and sexuality; adaptation, parody and comedy; literary representations of space and place.

Postgraduate Teaching: I contribute to three team-taught MA modules - 'Modernism and the Avant Garde', 'Place, Region, Empire', and 'Textualities' - and I supervise dissertations on modernist literatures.

Current Research

I am fascinated by modernism and its literatures. My second monograph, Modernist Parody: Imitation, Origination, and Experimentation in Early Twentieth-Century Literature, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press (2023). This innovative book takes modernist studies in a new direction by contending that parody is central to the whole modernist project, and not just the extreme avant-garde antics of Dada. It tells the story of how the daring, experimental styles of modernism evolved, offering fresh interpretations of celebrated works and archival writings by Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, Virginia Woolf, and others, to reveal how parody shaped the revolutionary critical and creative practices that were crucial to the genesis of truly modern art.

I am also the author of Modernist Literatures: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). This lively, accessible Guide provides an up-to-date overview of the critical concepts that are essential for understanding British, Irish and American modernist poetry, fiction and drama in their wider transnational context. Part I sets out how the modernists understood their experiment, introducing manifestos, movements, traditions and individual talents, taking particular note of the activities of the European avant-garde. Part II provides a historical overview of the successive fashions that have shaped modernist studies from New Criticism right up to the methodologies that are changing the discipline today. The Guide introduces classic interpretations of familiar texts alongside fresh approaches to more recently recovered materials, investigating modernist responses to new thinking on sex, gender, race, human psychology, philosophy, science, technology, new media, and globalisation, furnishing readers with the knowledge and insight to make their own interventions in critical debates.

A major theoretical approach of my present research is genetic criticism: the comparative study of different stages in the production of texts. In February 2011 I was awarded British Academy funding for 'Intertextual Joyce', a two-year project investigating the genesis of the 'Oxen of the Sun' chapter of Ulysses. The research was jointly undertaken with Dr Chrissie Van Mierlo, Visiting Lecturer, Royal Holloway, University of London.

I am Director of the Centre for Regional Literature and Culture, and have a strong interest in space, place, and locality and everything regional.

I would be delighted to hear from students or researchers with interests in modernism, particularly James Joyce, Imagism, modernist magazines, modernist comedy, adaptation and textual criticism, space, place, regionality, and women's fiction and I welcome PhD applications in these fields.

I am the Director of the Centre for Regional Literature and Culture, which runs regular seminars and conferences and coordinates multidisciplinary research and outreach initiatives on: space and place; cultural geography; Nottinghamshire writers such as D.H. Lawrence; regional and national literary cultures (including Ireland, Scotland, the East Midlands and the Lake District); and text-editing.

  • DAVISON, S., 2023. Modernist Parody: Imitation, Origination, and Experimentation in Early Twentieth-Century Literature Oxford University Press. (In Press.)
  • DAVISON, S., 2022. 'Oxen of the Sun'. In: FLYNN, C., ed., The Cambridge Centenary Ulysses: The 1922 Text with Essays and Notes. Cambridge University Press. 520-8.
  • SARAH DAVISON, 2022. 'Ulysses': Review: Patrick Hastings, The Guide to James Joyce's 'Ulysses' (Johns Hopkins Press, 2022). Times Literary Supplement (2 September 2022), 24.
  • S. DAVISON, 2022. 'Joyce': Review: Declan Kiberd et al, ed., The Book About Everything: Eighteen Artists, Writers and Thinkers on James Joyces' 'Ulysses' (Apollo, 2022). Times Literary Supplement (21 October 2022), 25.
  • DAVISON, S. and MERTENS, B., 2017. ‘A Portrait of Hugo Claus as a Young Man: the Influence of James Joyce on Het Verdriet.’ Modern Language Review. 112(2), 415-41.
  • DAVISON, S., 2016. ‘“The True-Born Englishman” and the Irish Bull: Daniel Defoe in the “Oxen of the Sun” Episode of Ulysses.’ European Joyce Studies. 25, 111-40.
  • DAVISON, S., 2014. Review: Andrew Gibson, 'The Strong Spirit: History, politics, and aesthetics in the writings of James Joyce, 1898-1915' (Oxford University Press, 2013). Times Literary Supplement (3 January 2014), 22.
  • DAVISON, S., 2014. Modernist Literatures: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • DAVISON, S., 2013. Review: David G. Wright, '"Dubliners" and "Ulysses": Bonds of Character' (Edizioni Joker, 2013). Times Literary Supplement (6 September 2013), 27.
  • DAVISON, S., 2011. Max Beerbohm's altered books Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation. 6(1), 48-75
  • DAVISON, S., 2011. For the Love of Molly. Review: Karen R. Lawrence, 'Who's Afraid of James Joyce?' (University of Florida Press, 2010); Michael Groden, 'Ulysses in Focus' (University Press of Florida, 2010). Times Literary Supplement (4 February 2011), 7.
  • DAVISON, S., 2010. Review: Peter Brooker and Andrew Thacker (eds), 'The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines. Volume 1. Britain and Ireland.' Keywords: A Journal of Cultural Materialism. 8, 134-137.
  • DAVISON, S., 2009. Ezra Pound's esteem for Edmund Waller: a new source for Hugh Selwyn Mauberley The Review of English Studies. 60(247), 785-800
  • DAVISON, S., 2009. An "atmosphere of parody": Ezra Pound and imagism. In: MORLEY, C. and GOODY, A., eds., American modernism: cultural transactions Cambridge Scholars Press. 143-164
  • DAVISON, S., 2009. Joyce’s incorporation of literary sources in ‘Oxen of the Sun’ Genetic Joyce Studies. 9, n/a
  • DAVISON, S., 2008. Family Romance in 'Wise Children'. The English Review. 18(4), 7-10.
  • DAVISON, S., 2008. 'Penultimate Poetry': Richard Aldington's Parodies of Ezra Pound. In: KEMPTON, D., ed., Locations and Dislocations: Proceedings of the Fourth International Richard Aldington Conference Gregau Press. 85-92.
  • DAVISON, S., 2007. 'Postmodern Pie'. Review: Richard Dyer, 'Pastiche' (Routledge, 2006), Times Literary Supplement (26 October), 28.
  • DAVISON, S., 2007. Review: Modernist Literature: An Introduction. By Mary Ann Gillies and Aurelea Mahood (Edinburgh University Press, 2007). Times Literary Supplement.
  • DAVISON, S., 2006. Sir Max Beerbohm. The Literary Encyclopedia.
  • DAVISON, S., 2006. Review: Michael Arditti, 'A Sea Change' (Maia Books, 2006). Times Literary Supplement (28 September), 21.
  • DAVISON, S., 2006. Review: Kunal Basu, 'Racists' (Weidenfeld, 2006). Times Literary Supplement (11 January), 19.
  • DAVISON, S., 2003. Review: Susan K. Harris, 'The Cultural Work of the Late Nineteenth-Century Hostess' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2002) Times Literary Supplement (25 April), 30.
  • DAVISON, S., 2003. Review: Janet Davy, 'English Correspondence' (Chatto and Windus, 2003). Times Literary Supplement (7 February), 21.

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