Milena Schwab-Graham

Profile

I have been a full-time, Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded doctoral student in the School of English at the University of Leeds since October 2018.

I previously taught as an Assistant Lecturer in British Literature and Culture in the Department of Anglophone Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany for several years. I taught across a broad literary and cultural spectrum, devising and delivering courses on nineteenth and twentieth century poetry, prose and cultural studies. 

I hold a BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature and an MA by Directed Research in English from the University of Liverpool.

From March–August 2021 I worked on the archival project ‘Anthony Burgess on Tape’ with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, exploring the Foundation’s extensive audio archive to produce an item-level catalogue, draw connections across Burgess’ wide-ranging oeuvre, and further public engagement with Burgess’ work. I took part in an interview on the Burgess Foundation Podcast about the project. 

Research interests

My research interests include:

  • walking as transgressive intellectual praxis
  • feminist modernisms
  • contemporary feminisms
  • nineteenth-century women’s writing
  • spatiality
  • cosmopolitanism
  • embodiment
  • affect theory

My thesis is grounded in cultural historian Rebecca Solnit’s radical proposition that “walking has sometimes been, at least since the late eighteenth century, an act of resistance to the mainstream” (Solnit, 2002). It explores how the women writers George Eliot, May Sinclair and Sylvia Townsend Warner’s own walking experiences (ranging across Britain and Europe, and urban and rural contexts) were integral to the development of their intellectual and political consciousness. All were unconventional and prolific writers, for whom walking was a means of resisting the mainstream of patriarchal society, in which intellectual discourse is rooted in masculinist ideology. First tracing the walking processes in these writers’ diaries and letters, the thesis goes on to examine how such physical activity finds later realisation in the female protagonists within selected works of their prose fiction.

A central concern of the project is how to articulate the interconnection between walking and writing. I argue that this is fundamentally a process of translation which extends beyond interaction with wider European culture through travel, reading and translating, and has implications which are more abstract and multifarious. This process is also a translation of action (walking) into thought (writing), which in turn translates into increased political consciousness and political action. The physical act of walking is therefore shown to be a catalyst for feminist subjectivity, revealing the political in the personal. 

Teaching

Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, School of English, University of Leeds (2019):

  • Prose: Reading and Interpretation

Assistant Lecturer in British Literature and Culture, Department of Anglophone Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany (2015–2018):

  • The Urban Wanderer in Literature
  • Postmodern Rewritings of Victorian Fiction
  • Gothic Women Writers
  • The North of England: Radical Perspectives
  • Multicultural Britain
  • The Social Problem Novel

Publications

  • “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, No.45 (2014): 8–15Winner of the George Eliot Fellowship Essay Prize 2014.

Awards

  • White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities Doctoral Training Partnership (Arts and Humanities Research Council): Doctoral Studentship (2018–Present)
  • George Eliot Fellowship Essay Prize (2014)

Selected Conference Papers

  • “Sharp, queer, uncertain happiness”: Walking as feminist “affective militancy” in May Sinclair’s Mary Olivier. Networking May Sinclair, Université de Nantes, Nantes, France, 2021.
  • “She would fight for freedom, but not in their way and not at their bidding”: Demonstration as feminist walking practice in May Sinclair’s The Tree of Heaven. A New Poetics of Space: Literary Walks in Times of Pandemics and Climate Change, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden, 2020.
  • “Objectless wandering”? Mapping morality onto peripatetic practice in Adam Bede. George Eliot 2019: An International Bicentenary Conference, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom, 2019.
  •  “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” Middlemarch as a re-visioning of Spinoza’s Ethics. George Eliot and Her Circle Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2017.

Additional Activities

Twitter: @mschwabgraham.

Qualifications

  • University of Liverpool - MA by Directed Research in English (Distinction)
  • University of Liverpool - BA English Language and Literature (First Class Honours)