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Dr Milena Schwab-Graham

LAHRI postdoctoral fellow
Areas of expertise
Modern Literature; Nineteenth-Century Literature; Feminism; Modernism; Contemporary Women’s Writing; Theories of Embodiment and Affect; Walking Studies
Clothworkers South Building, University of Leeds Campus

My primary research interests are in nineteenth-century, modern, and contemporary literature, with a focus on feminism and embodied modernity.

I received my AHRC-funded PhD from the University of Leeds in October 2022, for a thesis titled ‘“Rambles in the strange places of the mind”: walking as feminist intellectual praxis in George Eliot, May Sinclair, and Sylvia Townsend Warner’.  I previously completed an MA by Directed Research in English at the University of Liverpool, on how Europe shaped the metaphysic of George Eliot’s novels. An article taken from the chapter of my MA thesis was awarded the George Eliot Fellowship Essay Prize. I also hold a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature from the University of Liverpool.

My doctoral thesis examined the transgressive capabilities of walking for women writers between the mid-Victorian and the mid-twentieth century period, taking a feminist historicist approach which was informed by the haunting legacies of the British Empire. I have undertaken funded archival research in the Sylvia Townsend Warner Archive at the Dorset County Museum and Dorset History Centre, and the Brotherton Library Special Collections.

As a LAHRI Postdoctoral Fellow, I am developing my first monograph, which will sit clearly at the intersection of geohumanities, psychogeographies and walking studies. It will focus on walking in the work of twentieth-century women writers, examining notions of embodied modernity through a contemporary, intersectional methodological framework. The project will build on the work of Sara Ahmed, Lauren Berlant and Wendy Truran to develop a theory of militant feminist affect; that is, a feminism which is sustained by intensity of feeling, and, crucially, articulated through embodied experience.

I have published and forthcoming articles in The George Eliot Review, Modernist Cultures, Feminist Modernist Studies, The Modernist Review, The Literary Encyclopaedia, and a chapter in an edited collection on May Sinclair with University of Montpellier Press. Further ongoing research projects include work on articles which intersect with modern and contemporary literature, feminism and landscape, as well as preparation for application to postdoctoral fellowships such as the Leverhulme and British Academy schemes.

Besides research, I have an abiding interest in teaching. I worked alongside my doctoral studies as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant in the School of English at the University of Leeds, teaching Level 1 and 2 modules on modern, contemporary, and Victorian literature. Before this, I spent several years designing and delivering modules as a Part-Time Adjunct Lecturer in British Literature and Culture at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. Prior to taking up the Fellowship, I was Module Leader for the course ‘British Literature and the Brontës’ at the University of Leeds International Summer School. During the Fellowship I will also be teaching adult learners at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of York, convening modules of my own design on the urban wanderer in literature from the nineteenth century to the present, and short stories by modernist women writers.

Beyond the academy, I have worked to further public engagement with the archives of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, creating an open-source catalogue of audio recordings for Jisc Archives Hub, and producing online content including a guest podcast and three blog posts, ‘Exploring the recordings of the ‘showman’ Anthony Burgess’ , ‘The Anthony Burgess tapes: from Larry King to Nordic myths’, and ‘Chest of curiosities: exploring Anthony Burgess archive recordings’ as part of the ‘Anthony Burgess on Tape’ project.



‘Suffrage and subjectivity: reassessing May Sinclair’s feminist writings’, Feminist Modernist Studies (forthcoming)

‘“Sharp, queer, uncertain happiness”: walking as feminist “affective militancy” in May Sinclair’s Mary Olivier and The Three Sisters’, in Isabelle Brasme, Leslie de Bont, and Florence Marie, eds., May Sinclair in her Time: Reappraising May Sinclair’s Role in Early-20th-Century Literature and Philosophy (provisional title) (Montpellier: Presses Universitaires de La Méditerranée, Montpellier 3 University) (in process)

‘Book Review: Peter Tsang, The Obsolete Empire: Untimely Belonging in Twentieth-Century British Literature’, The Modernist Review (forthcoming)

‘May Sinclair, The Judgement of Eve’, in ‘English Writing and Culture of the Early Twentieth Century’, The Literary Encyclopaedia (forthcoming)

‘“In isolation human power is limited, in combination it is infinite”: tracing Ludwig Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity through Daniel Deronda’, The George Eliot Review, 45 (2014): 8-15, 6-7.