Department of English and American Studies

About the department

From the written word, music and festivals to seafaring and sustainable wind power, the maritime city of Hull has a rich cultural and creative heritage. Our University is at the heart of life in Hull and the department is actively involved in the city's vibrant community.

Our students are taught in an inclusive environment – supported by writers, playwrights, and researchers with expertise in literature, language, discourse analysis, film, history and art history. Staff in the department work with a range of organisations including prisons, publishers, participatory arts and heritage institutions, art galleries and offshore industries.

Head of department

Sarah Jane Dickenson

Dr Sarah-Jane Dickenson


Research in the Department of English and American Studies

Our department has world-class research strengths in anglophone literatures and cultures. With research that is transatlantic in scope but rooted in public and community engagement, we work with a range of external partners from prisons to publishers, heritage organisations to hospitals, digital studios to offshore industries.

Interdisciplinarity is key to our research identity. Collaborating across the social, physical, and health sciences we deliver arts in science projects that address some of today's key environmental and societal challenges. We use literature and creative writing to raise awareness about flood risks, gender inequalities and the experience of incarceration.

Researchers work across the department's three research strengths – writing the environment, writing lives, and crime and Gothic – and within our two interdisciplinary research centres: the Centre for Cultures of Incarceration and the Philip Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing." to "Researchers work across the department's three research strengths – Writing the Environment, Writing Lives, and Crime and Gothic – and within our two interdisciplinary research centres: the Cultures of Incarceration Centre and the Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing.

Research strengths

Writing the Environment

Our ‘Writing the Environment’ research shapes and shift attitudes towards our planet and its future survival. Inherently interdisciplinary, research in this field adopts arts and sciences approaches to explore the power of language, literature, and the creative word.

Our collaborative projects learn from the past, from cultures worldwide and from conversations with the sciences to rethink our relationship with the environment – for now and the future.

Drawing on expertise from across American studies, creative writing, English language, and English literature, our researchers are involved in a number of large, externally funded projects. Examples include analysing parliamentary discourse surrounding renewable energies; and exploring flooding in literature and history through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project Risky Cities: Living with Water in an Uncertain Future Climate.

Researchers in this group connect with the work of the interdisciplinary Larkin Centre for Poetry and Creative Writing and the Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Centre for Water Cultures. They work closely with colleagues in the University’s Energy and Environment Institute.

Our community

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"The course is ranked one of the best for student satisfaction and the lecturers all made me feel really welcome"

Watch: Find out why Connie Fredrickson chose American Studies at Hull.

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Try Creative Writing and English

Watch: Join Dr Anna Fitzer and Dr Michael Farrelly for a virtual a taster session.

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"The applicant day was really warm and welcoming"

Watch: Maya Tyrrell on why she chose to study English at Hull

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The Fear Talking

Dr Chris Westoby recently published his debut novel The Fear Talking. Chris – Programme Director of the Online MA in Creative Writing – is also a Hull alumnus and credits his experiences as a student here for helping shape his literary career.

Find out more about Chris's debut novel

American Studies on demand

Watch: Join Dr Jo Metcalf and students Debrah and Jonathan for an American Studies taster session.

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Adventures in American Studies

‘I've had so many adventures over the last four years in American Studies. The course has allowed me to study my passions and develop new ones, transforming the way I look at the world.' - Josie Alexander

Our people

The department is a vibrant community of extremely talented staff and students, who collaborate to craft some incredibly creative work.

staff members in the Department of English and American Studies, arranged alphabetically by last name

PhD students

PhD students in the Department of English and American Studies
  • Emma Linford

    Emma Linford

    Romance and finance from Dickens to Christie

  • Adam Clifton

    Adam Clifton

    Eyesore: examining allegory in speculative fiction with regards to place as character and socio-political commentary, while challenging the tropes of the “white saviour narrative”

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    Jonathan Morton

    Men’s power and status in relation to women’s in literature and other media: a comparison between the Middle Ages and present day

  • David Stanley-Fisher

    David Stanley-Fisher

    The evil inside: representations of psychopathy in crime fiction

  • Kath Beal

    Kath Beal

    Disease, disability and disfigurement as shown in the novels of Wilkie Collins

  • Sam Laverack

    Sam Laverack

    “She, who now understood that language but too well”: antiheroines and unruly women writers of early amatory fiction’

  • Dhanya Mathew

    Dhanya Ann Mathew

    Beginning to the end: post-colonialism in 20th and 21st century Anglo-Indian novels

  • Ali Cargill

    Ali Cargill

    Hedgewicche: appropriation of memoir and novel into novel writing

  • Matt Commerford

    Matt Commerford

    Creative writing – memoir and memory – exploring the lost clubland histories of 90's LGBTQ+ London, addiction and survival through writing

    Library exterior

    Brynmor Jones Library

    Enjoy 24/7 access to the iconic Brynmor Jones Library which boasts stunning views, cosy reading rooms, cutting edge collaborate spaces and more than a million books.


    # National Student Survey (NSS) 2020, HEIs only

    † Ranked joint 24th of 101 institutions in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021