School of English

Image of Thirza Wakefield

Thirza Wakefield

Research Student,



I have a BA and MA in English Literature from the University of Bristol. I submitted my PhD thesis (University of Nottingham), funded by the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership, in March 2021.

My essays and criticism (film and poetry) have appeared in Sight & Sound, Granta, The White Review, the Guardian, and the Spectator, and online at the BFI website and Film and Video Umbrella.

I have provided booklet essays (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 10 Rillington Place, The Anderson Tapes, The Deadly Affair, Charlie Bubbles, The System) and audio commentaries (Charlie Bubbles, The System) for limited edition Blu-rays, released by UK film distributor Powerhouse Films, and the BFI DVD/Blu-ray label.

I have taken part in panel discussions ('Whose Story? Working-class Women on Screen', 2018), and introduced film screenings (Rebel Without a Cause, 2019) at the British Film Institute and the BFI's Reuben Library; and, to accompany a group-reading of Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems at the National Poetry Library (Royal Festival Hall, 2016), gave an informal talk about Hollywood actress Lana Turner and Frank O'Hara's love of film.

Teaching Summary

Teaching Affiliate: January 2018-June 2018

Module: Drama, Theatre, Performance

School of English, University of Nottingham

Research Summary

Current status: PhD (full-time)

Thesis title: 'Serial return and regional working-class self-expression: a cultural history of the East Midlands' (School of English, University of Nottingham)

My research focuses on representations of working-class life in the East Midlands. It offers a comparison of theatrical, literary, and televisual texts by East Midlands-born and -based artists. These texts include the largely underexplored early dramas of D. H. Lawrence, and Shane Meadows's This is England television series, which has yet to be subjected to sustained critical analysis. I draw on recent developments in regional studies, neo-genetic criticism, post-colonialism, town planning studies, and cultural sociology, as well as conceptualisations of place and space that have predominated in the discipline of geography since the 1970s, to demonstrate that Lawrence's mining plays, Meadows's This is England sequence, and Alan Sillitoe's four-book Seaton novel series mobilise similar formal and aesthetic strategies for the representation of regional ways of life, and share a basis in their eschewal of the singular, the fixed, and the finished. By examining these works of drama, literary fiction, and television side-by-side, I show that Lawrence, Sillitoe, and Meadows have in common an artistic sensibility arising from a responsiveness to place, social class, and cultural marginality. My thesis charts a cultural lineage of the East Midlands region, and argues that serialness, repetition, and open-endedness are modes of expression typical of the representation of working-class identity in this historically under-regarded part of the country.

Past Research

MA dissertation (2010, University of Bristol): '"pictures of Pentecost?" -the naive vision in the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop'

BA dissertation (2009, University of Bristol): '"Each is a direct statement of the spiritual life of the artist. Each is its own subject and the occasion for its expression" (O'Hara, Jackson Pollock)-painting the self in the poetry of Frank O'Hara'

School of English

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