School of English

Joe Jackson

Assistant Professor in Twentieth-Century and Contemporary English Literature, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

MA (Hons) University of Dundee; MA, PhD University of Warwick.

Expertise Summary

My work faces two of the big, related questions in twenty-first century Britain: how we represent racism and racial justice, and the changing national story of Britain itself. The literary imagination tells us many things about race and nation that statistics or social science research cannot. But my approach is counter to the popular narrative of an increasingly diverse and inclusive Britishness - I look at many things that undermine such a narrative, including the history of racism, the afterlife of the Empire, and the possible dis-integration of Britain into its smaller nations.

My research specialism is in late twentieth-century fiction, with a particular emphasis on the Scottish novel, on writing Blackness in post-war Britain, and on Caribbean fiction - areas which have many evident, but also many surprising and generative, overlaps. I published a monograph, Writing Black Scotland: Race, Nation and the Devolution of Black Britain (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) which is informed by scholarship in these areas. I interrogate the way the politics of race - in a sense of government policy, in grassroots activism, and in a broad social context - intersect with the peculiar national formations in contemporary writing in Britain. These include the 'macro-narrative' of Britishness and the stories of Britain's constituent nations like England and Scotland, as well as national affiliations that overspill territorial boundaries. I also have a significant research interest in the literary representation of addiction: what literature can tell us both about the imagination and experience of addiction at the level of the subject, but also what it tells us about society more widely.

Teaching Summary

I am currently Director of Education and Student Experience in the School of English, and have responsibility for the operational and strategic administration of our teaching activities. In addition,… read more

Research Summary

I have just completed a co-edited special issue of New Formations entitled 'Dependencies'. The special issue examines worlded patterns of systemic organisation, exploitation and corruption, as well… read more

Recent Publications

  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2021. “Modulated Perfectly”: Scotland’s Neoliberal Culture of Moderated Alcohol Dependency New Formations. 94-112 (In Press.)
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON and CLAIRE WESTALL, 2021. Dependencies: Editorial New Formations. 5-9 (In Press.)
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2021. Palestinian Poetry in Scottish Translation Scottish Literary Review. 13(1), 103-116
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2016. English Brother or No? British State-National Critiques and the Moment of Pressure.. In: MALACHI MCINTOSH, ed., Re-reading Sam Selvon. Kingston: Ian Randle.

I have supervised a number of PhD projects to completion in areas including devolutionary fiction in the English north, the intertextual afterlives of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, creative-critical work on Latin American migration to England, and on deterritorialization and loneliness in the works of Coetzee and Gordimer.

I am interested in hearing from prospective PhD candidates in fields related to my research, and I'm very happy to receive proposals for consideration that may be 'adjacent' to these areas - just drop me an email and we can discuss:

  • Contemporary Scottish fiction
  • Race and nation
  • Black British writing
  • Anglophone Caribbean literature
  • Governance and democracy in literature
  • Post-war British fiction, particularly with a political focus

I am currently Director of Education and Student Experience in the School of English, and have responsibility for the operational and strategic administration of our teaching activities. In addition, I teach on a wide variety of modules across all levels of the School, with a particular focus on contemporary fiction, race and racism, and British writing. Please get in touch if you have any questions about anything I've been teaching you or will be teaching you!

Undergraduate

  • Studying Literature
  • Literature and Popular Culture
  • Academic Community
  • Regional Writers
  • One and Unequal: World Literature and English
  • The Gothic Tradition
  • Contemporary Fiction

MA Level

  • Literature in Britain since 1950
  • Place, Region, Empire
  • Modernism and the Avant-Garde
  • Speculative Fiction

Current Research

I have just completed a co-edited special issue of New Formations entitled 'Dependencies'. The special issue examines worlded patterns of systemic organisation, exploitation and corruption, as well as intimate, affective and everyday experiences. To think about being dependent means thinking in broad, global economic terms, in systemic and ecological forms, and in ways that make sense of our encounters with the ongoing neoliberalisation of day-to-day experiences. We identify that something common in dependency narratives at all scales - global, national, communal, individual - is pathologisation. Uneven relationships of reliance are cast as failures of will, of agency, or of resilience. Exemplary here, and foregrounded in this issue, are energy, resource, substance, and subsidy and welfare dependencies. This is dependency understood as addiction: as a morally charged and usually substance-mediated condition that is simultaneously chronic, enervating, and degenerative, and which is embodied either within actual bodies or national/communal bodies. The issue provides alternative readings of 'interdependence', or ways of reading the world as a system of social connectedness which is often denied or discounted by pathologisation. My own article in the issue, 'Modulated Perfectly', reads alcoholism in these terms in contemporary Scottish literature.

Past Research

My monograph Writing Black Scotland focuses on the representation of race, national experience and British state politics in contemporary Scottish writing. The central thesis of the monograph, drawing on writers such as Jackie Kay, James Robertson, Luke Sutherland, Suhayl Saadi and Leila Aboulela, is that contemporary Scottish literature represents a nationally distinctive experience and imagination of race. The project thus constitutes a devolutionary process applied to black British scholarship. The resultant concept of black Scotland presents a tripartite challenge: to a narrative of ethnic Scottishness, to the unitary status and regional biases of black Britain, and to the state-led definition of national Britain itself. The monograph is intended to advance race as a critical paradigm in Scottish literature, and open productive new avenues of discourse in black British scholarship, particularly with respect to national and transnational modes of analysis.

Future Research

The concept for my next major research project is the role played by black writers in imagining English nationhood, citizenship, and civic participation in the post-war period. This would elaborate the idea of a 'devolved' black Britain and examine a black English challenge to both a state politics of race and the evolution and persistence of a post-imperial ethnic definition of Englishness.

  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2021. “Modulated Perfectly”: Scotland’s Neoliberal Culture of Moderated Alcohol Dependency New Formations. 94-112 (In Press.)
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON and CLAIRE WESTALL, 2021. Dependencies: Editorial New Formations. 5-9 (In Press.)
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2021. Palestinian Poetry in Scottish Translation Scottish Literary Review. 13(1), 103-116
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2016. English Brother or No? British State-National Critiques and the Moment of Pressure.. In: MALACHI MCINTOSH, ed., Re-reading Sam Selvon. Kingston: Ian Randle.
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON and L. GRAMAGLIA, 2012. The Broad Breast of the Land: Indo-Caribbean Eco-Feminism and Mahadai Das. In: JOY MAHABIR and MARIAM PIRBHAI, eds., Critical Perspectives on Indo-Caribbean Women's Literature New York: Routledge.
  • JOSEPH H. JACKSON, 2011. Captain Thistlewood’s Jacobite: Reading the Caribbean in Scotland’s Historiography of Slavery. In: MICHAEL GARDINER, GRAEME MACDONALD and NIALL O'GALLAGHER, eds., Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature: Comparative Texts and Critical Perspectives Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • 2010. Lutchmee and Dilloo Caribbean Classics Georgetown: Caribbean Press.
  • A Bird Is Not A Stone - Palestinian Poetry in Scottish Translation: An Interview with Henry Bell and Sarah Irving. Scottish Literary Review. (In Press.)

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