Dr Brendon Nicholls

Dr Brendon Nicholls


My principal research interests are in Postcolonial literatures in English, and I have specialised interests in the Anglophone literatures of Africa and secondary interests in American Literature.

Dr Brendon Nicholls BA, Natal; BA Honours, MA, Cape Town; DPhil, Essex


Research Interests


My principal research interests are in African Studies and Postcolonial Studies, and I have specialised interests in the Anglophone literatures of Africa. I maintain an abiding interest in work by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Dambudzo Marechera, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Bessie Head, Nadine Gordimer, Chimamanda Adichie, Chris Abani, K. Sello Duiker, Chinua Achebe, Jeet Thayil, Neel Mukherjee and Salman Rushdie and I am cultivating new interests in Indigeneity and film. I welcome interest from prospective graduate students who wish to work in these areas.

Additionally, my broader research interests include postcolonial theory; gender politics (especially clitoridectomy in Kenya); Mau Mau; the cultural logic of the symptom and psychoanalytic approaches to postcolonial literatures; and performative reading methodologies in postcolonial contexts. I have a subsidiary research interest in American literature (particularly post-1945) and have published work on the Beat Generation.

Recent Activities




Editorial Boards


I serve on the editorial boards of the following publications:
The Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings
Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies



I teach the following option modules:

Contemporary South African Writing (Undergraduate)

Contemporary African Writing (Undergraduate)

Africas of the Mind (Postgraduate)


I teach on the following core modules:

Race, Writing and Decolonization

Postcolonial Literature






Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Gender, and the Ethics of Postcolonial Reading (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2010)


Edited Collection


Nadine Gordimer’s July’s People (Routledge Guides to Literature), (London: Routledge, 2011)


Journal Articles


Invited article, ‘Practical Magic: Shape-Shifting as Survival Tactic’ for New Formations Special Issue on Animism 104-105 (Winter 2021), pp. 128-158.

‘Africas of the Mind: From Indigenous Medicine to Environmental Psychoanalysis,’ Cultural Critique 111 (Spring 2021), pp. 52-80.

Invited article, with Hayley Toth, “A Dialectical Literary Canon?” for African Identities Special Issue on Marxism and African Literature: New Interventions, edited by Alexander Fyfe 18:1-2 (2020), pp. 41-63.

Invited article, ‘Decolonization and Popular Poetics: From Soweto Poetry to Diasporic Solidarity,’ for English in Africa Special Issue on Africa and the Un/Popular Arts 45:3 (2018), pp. 41-78.

Invited article, ‘An Environmental Unconscious? Nigerian Oil Politics, Autonomous Partial Objects and Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy’ forthcoming in Research in African Literatures 48:4, (2017) Special issue on Ken Saro-Wiwa edited by Professor Stephanie Newell (in press)

Invited roundtable response, ‘Game Reserves, Murder, Afterlives: Grace A. Musila’s A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour,’ Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies, 3:2 (2017), pp. 184-199.

‘History, Intertextuality and Gender in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood,’ Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 14:1 (2014), pp. 71-76.

‘Postcolonial Narcissism, Cryptopolitics, and Hypnocritique: Dambudzo Marechera’s The House of Hunger,’ Postcolonial Text, 13:2 (November 2013), pp. 1-22. http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/viewFile/1715/1561

‘Chinua Achebe at Leeds: When the Great Share the Good,’ University of Leeds Centre for African Studies Bulletin 73 (December 2011), pp. 42-45.

Invited article, ‘Apartheid Cinema and Indigenous Image Rights: The “Bushman” Myth in Jamie Uys’ The Gods Must Be Crazy’ in Flanery, P. and van der Vlies, A. (eds), Scrutiny2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa, Special Issue on South Africa and the Global Media 13:1 (2008), pp. 20-32.

‘Re-introducing Tsitsi Dangarembga’s She No Longer Weeps,’ Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 5: 1 (2005), pp. 105-119.

‘The Topography of ‘Woman’ in Ngugi’s Weep Not, Child,’ Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 40: 3 (September 2005), pp. 81-101.

‘The Melting Pot that Boiled Over: Racial Fetishism and the Lingua Franca of Jack Kerouac’s Fiction,’ Modern Fiction Studies, Special Issue on Racechange and the Fictions of Identity, 49: 3 (Fall 2003), pp. 524-549.

‘Clitoridectomy and Gikuyu Nationalism in Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s The River Between,Kunapipi: Journal of Postcolonial Writing, XXV: 2 (2003), pp. 40-55.

‘Post-Apartheid Violence and the Institution of Literature’ in Australian Humanities Review, April-June 1999. http://www.lib.latrobe.edu.au/AHR/archive/Issue-April-1999/nicholls.html


Chapters in Edited Books


‘Literature and Transitional Justice after the Rwandan Genocide: Veronique Tadjo’s The Shadow of Imana,’ submitted to Salah-Omri, Mohammed and Roussin, Phillipe (eds), Literature, Democracy and Transitional Justice: Comparative World Perspectives (Oxford: Legenda 2020, awaiting proofs)

Invited chapter, “Indigenous Ecologies” forthcoming in Iheka, Cajetan (ed.), Teaching Postcolonial Environmental Literature and Media (New York: Modern Language Association of America (MLA), 2022), pp. 32-43.

Invited chapter, ‘Indigeneity in Southern Africa’ in Davis, Geoffrey and Devy, Ganesh (eds), Indigeneity and Nation (Key Concepts in Indigenous Studies 5 volume series) (London: Routledge, 2021), pp. 9-23.

Invited chapter, ‘Gender and the Political in Ngugi’s Fiction’ in Lovesey, O. (ed), Approaches to Teaching the Works of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, (New York: Modern Language Association of America (MLA), 2012), pp. 48-52.

‘Reading Ngugi on Four Continents: Relational Aesthetics and the Global Multicultural Classroom’ in Lovesey, O. (ed), Approaches to Teaching the Works of Ngugi wa Thiong'o, (New York: Modern Language Association of America (MLA), 2012), pp.129-135.

‘Indigeneity, Visuality and Postcolonial Theory: The Case of the San,’ in Devy, G. N, Davis G. V. and Chakravarty, K. K. (eds), Indigeneity: Culture and Interpretation (Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009), pp. 203-211.

Invited Chapter, ‘Reading ‘Pakistan’ in Salman Rushdie’s Shame’ in Gurnah, A. (ed), Cambridge Companion to Salman Rushdie (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 109-123.

‘The Beat Generation: Literature, Gender and Race in Post-War America’ in Plain, G. and Hipkins, D. (eds), War-torn Tales: Literature, Film and Gender in the Aftermath of World War II (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007), pp. 223-236.

‘Literary Studies in Post-Apartheid Universities: Possibilities for a New South African Literature in Ivan Vladislavi’s “Courage”’ in Afolayan, M. (ed.), Higher Education in Postcolonial Africa: Paradigms of Development, Decline and Dilemmas (Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2007), pp. 121-133.

Invited chapter, ‘The Landscape of Insurgency: Mau Mau, Gender and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Fiction’ in Hooper, G. (ed.) Landscape and Empire, 1800-2000 (Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005), pp. 177-194.

‘Indexing Her Digests: Working Through Nervous Conditions’ in Treiber, J. and Willey, A.E. (eds) Emerging Perspectives on Tsitsi Dangarembga: Negotiating the Postcolonial (Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, 2002), pp. 99-134.


Book Reviews and Review Essays


‘Derek Hook, A Critical Psychology of the Postcolonial: The Mind of Apartheid,’ Postcolonial Text 9:3 (2014), pp. 1-4. http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/view/1894/1734

‘Dobrota Pucherova, The Ethics of Dissident Desire in Southern African Writing and Dobrota Pucherova and Julie Cairnie, Moving Spirit: The Legacy of Dambudzo Marechera in the 21st Century,’ Journal of Southern African Studies 39:3 (2013). pp. 742-745.

‘Nadine Gordimer, Telling Times: Writing and Living 1954-2008 and Life Times: Stories 1952-2007,’ Wasafiri 73 (Spring 2013), pp. 82-86

‘Andrew van der Vlies, South African Textual Cultures: White, Black, Read All Over,’ in Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings 9:1 (2009), pp. 144-146.

‘Gerald Gaylard, After Colonialism: African Postmodernism and Magical Realism’ in Postcolonial Text 3:2 (2007), pp. 1-3. http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/article/viewFile/741/430

‘Chinua Achebe, Collected Poems and Togara Muzanenhamo, Spirit Brides’ in Stand 7:3 (2007), pp. 58-60.

‘Steve Jacobs, The Enemy Within and Ivan Vladislavic, Propaganda by Monuments’ in Journal of Southern African Studies 25: 1 (March 1999), pp. 158-160.

‘Joseph N. Riddel, The Turning Word: American Literary Modernism and Continental Theory in Journal of American Studies 32: 1 (1998), pp. 184-185.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Critical Life Research Group

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>