Dr Emma Parker


I completed my PhD in life writing and the legacies of the British Empire at the University of Leeds in 2020. I am currently both a seminar tutor in the School of English and a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Centre for Life Writing, where I work on the Fell-funded project ‘Life Writing and the Asylum’. 

Research interests

Research Activities

Over the past year, I have created podcasts and recorded online talks on life writing, contemporary literature and the legacies of colonialism.

During 2018 I co-organised the After Empire? international conference and am now co-editor of a collection of essays British Culture After Empire, due to be published by Manchester University Press in 2021.

I have previously worked as a research assistant on the AHRC project ‘Mobilising Multidirectional Memory to Build More Resilient Communities in South Africa' (2017-18) and as co-director of the critical theory reading group Quilting Points, which explored the work of Sara Ahmed, hosting Ahmed for a public lecture in May 2018. I have also served as a steering group member of the Postgraduate Contemporary Women's Writing Network (2018-19).

In June 2017 I co-organised a symposium on ‘Life Narratives and Human Rights’ at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, conducting a keynote interview with South African author Mark Gevisser.


‘Speculation in the Aftermath of Empire’, Critical Quarterly (forthcoming, 2021)

‘“An Island of Whiteness”: Re-reading Penelope Lively’s Oleander, Jacaranda (1994)’, Wasafiri, 35:3 (2020)

'Imperial Debris in Janet Frame's To the Is-Land', Life Writing (2020)

with Sara Wong and Rachel Shapcott, 'Graphic lives, visual stories: reflections on practice', Auto/Biography Studies, 35:2 (2020)

‘"To Create Her World Anew": Charlotte Salomon’s Life? or Theatre? as Graphic Life-Narrative’ in Documenting Trauma: Comics and the Politics of Memory, ed. by Dominic Davies and Candida Rifkind (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

‘Penelope Lively’s Speculative Life Writing’, Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writing, vol. 18 (July 2018)


Reviews and online publications 

'This young woman created 784 paintings...', The Conversation, 2020 

‘Settlers and Outsiders: British Writers at the End of Empire’Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds, 2020

Review Essay: Free Woman by Lara Feigel', Doris Lessing Studies, 2018

'Echoes of the Past', Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing, 2018

'Refugee Comics: Personal Stories of Forced Migration Told in a Powerful New Way', The Conversation, 14 November 2018. 

'Literature Review: Mobilising Histories of Discrimination, Persecution and Genocide to Make Progress Towards Sustainable Development Goals', Transnational Holocaust Memory, May 2018  

“I Didn’t Have Time to be Anyone’s Muse”: The Hidden Lives of Female Surrealists’, The Oxonian Review, September 2017

Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands by Stuart Hall and Bill SchwarzThe Postcolonial Studies Association Newsletter, September 2017



I have taught seminars in the School of English for Poetry: Reading and Interpretation (Level 1) and Postcolonial Literature (Level 3)


Funding and Awards

Royal Historical Society Grant, Economic History Society Grant and WRoCAH Large Award to organise 'After Empire?' Conference (University of Leeds, December 2018)

AHC Faculty Interdisciplinary Research Support Award for Quilting Points, (Leeds, 2017-18)

WRoCAH KEP Award and Leeds for Life Foundation Grant for Life Narratives and Human Rights Symposium (Johannesburg, 2017)

AHRC WRoCAH doctoral studentship (University of Leeds, 2016-2019)

University of Oxford Postgraduate Award, National Museum of the United States Navy (Washington DC, 2015)

Sidney Lee Prize & Westfield Trust Prize (Queen Mary, University of London, 2013)


Talks and Conference Papers: I have been an invited speaker at the Oxford Centre for Life Writing (talk: ‘Where is this British Empire?’), the University of Sheffield Research Seminar (lecture on 'Doris Lessing's Global Life Writing'), the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, SA (talk on 'Dark Pasts and Mobilising Multidirectional Memory') and at the Postcolonial Studies Network, Nottingham Trent University (talk on 'Life Writing After Empire'). 

My presentations at conferences, seminars and symposiums include: Doris Lessing at 100 (University of East Anglia, 2019), After Empire? The Contested Histories of Race, Migration and Decolonisation in Modern Britain (University of Leeds, 2018), International Auto/Biography Association World Conference (University of Soao Jao del Rei, Brazil, 2018) Archives of Resistance Conference (University of Leeds, 2018) Literature and the Human Body Conference (University of Oxford, 2018), The Postcolonial Studies Association Conference (University of London, 2017), Documenting Trauma: Comics & the Politics of Memory Symposium (University of Oxford, 2017), Life Narratives and Human Rights Symposium, (Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, 2017), European Association for Commonwealth Language And Literature Studies Conference (University of Oviedo, 2017), Postcolonial Postgraduate Forum, (University of York, 2016).


  • PhD in English Literature, University of Leeds (2020)
  • M.St in English Literature 1900-Present, University of Oxford (2015)
  • BA (hons) in English Literature, Queen Mary, University of London (2013)