Professor John  McLeod

Professor John McLeod

Professor of Postcolonial and Diaspora Literatures

+44(0) 113 343 4756

Summary: Postcolonial literatures, diasporic and transcultural writing, representations of adoption, theories of postcolonialism and transculturation, postwar and contemporary British fiction

Research Interests

I work primarily in the field of postcolonial studies, and have particular interests in transcultural adoption writing and representations of diasporic and once-colonised locations. 

My recent book, Life Lines: Writing Transcultural Adoption (Bloomsbury, 2015), explores fiction, film and memoir writing concerning the adoption of children across the lines of culture, race and nation. It attends to the sorry histories of severance and sundering which adoption always exposes, while addressing the transgressive and transformative possibilities which thinking through adoption makes available to all.  I shape a new concept of 'adoptive being' from these possibilities and explore the new forms of transpersonal relations and modes of personhood that transcultural adoption texts may prefigure beyond the usual lines of biogenetic, racial or cultural filiation.  Adoption writing remains a key research passion of mine, and I'm currently a member of the editorial board of the international journal Adoption and Culture

Previously I've published Postcolonial London: Rewriting the Metropolis (Routledge 2004) which explores how London has been reimagined by a variety of post-war writers, while my co-edited collection The Revision of Englishness (Manchester University Press 2004) considers the ways in which Englishness has been imaginatively reconsidered by different kinds of writers and film-makers.  I've also contributed many scholarly essays to academic journals and books concerning postcolonial, diasporic and transcultural literatures.

I am also interested in critical theories of the postcolonial - my first book, Beginning Postcolonialism (Manchester University Press, second edition, 2010) introduces many of the key concepts in the field and considers their application to the reading of literature.  I have also edited the Routledge Companion to Postcolonial Studies (Routledge, 2007), which engages with the histories, cultures, theories and key figures of Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone and Hispanic postcolonial contexts.

I have published in the field of Caribbean and black British writing, with particular focus on the work of Caryl Phillips, Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul.  I maintain a healthy general interest in postwar British literature and the novel in general.  In 2007 Northcote House published my book J. G. Farrell, which concerns one of my favourite novelists, while in 2014 Bloomsbury published my co-edited collection The 1970s: A Decade of Contemporary British Fiction which includes my essay on Black British writing in the seventies. 

I'm on the editorial boards of a number of important journals in postcolonial studies - Moving Worlds, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, New Literatures Review, Journal of Commonwealth Literature - and I've guest-edited two issues of Kunapipi (XXI, 2, 1999, and XXV, 1, 2003).  In 2009 I was 'Visiting Research Fellow at the Research Institute for History and Culture' (OGC), Faculty of Arts, University of Utrecht, Netherlands; while in 2014 I was honoured to spend some time at Washington University in St Louis, USA, as a ‘Transatlantic Forum Scholar’.

My current research activities concern migration and mobility amid the prohibitions of twenty-first-century globality, with a particular focus on transcultural adoptees, elite sporting figures and documented migrants in world cities.  I was recently been awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to support this research.

I've supervised PhD theses on a wealth of topics - race and anti-racism, recent representations of slavery, Caribbean literature, South Asian cities, EM Forster's postcolonial legacies, representing refuge and asylum, black British cosmopolitanism, the ruin in Irish writing - and I've worked as a doctoral thesis examiner in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy, Australia, Germany, Austria and Canada.  

Recent Activities

In May 2017 I participated in an international conference on the work of Caryl Phillips, titled Inhabiting the Voids of History, at the Université de Caen Normandie, France.

In May 2017 I delivered a keynote lecture at a conference titled Gendering the Urban Imaginary: Fantasy, Affect, Transgression, held at the Institute of English and American Studies, University of Debrecen, Hungary.

In April 2017 I delivered a paper titled 'Northern Trespasser: Writing David Oluwale and the City of Leeds' at the triennial EACLALS conference, Performing the Urban, at the University of Oviedo, Spain.

In March 2017 I spoke on representations of transcultural adoption at the English Colloquium, University of Sussex, UK.

In January 2017 I gave a research paper on postcolonial writing and transcultural adoption as part of the 'In Transit/ion' seminar series at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Germany.

In November 2016 I gave a research paper titled 'Postcolonial Futures' to the staff and students of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.

In October 2016 I spoke on 'Imagining Birth-Mother Community in Recent Adoption Discourse' at the Sixth Biennial Conference for the Study of Adoption and Culture (ASAC), titled Building Communities, Changing Discourse, held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

In October 2016 I presented a research paper, titled 'Adoption Narratives and the Postcolonial', at the Postcolonial Writing and Theory at Oxford seminar series, University of Oxford, UK.

In October 2016 I gave the opening keynote address at a postgraduate conference held by Germany's Association for Anglophone Postcolonial Studies (GAPS) at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, Germany, titled 'The Ethics and Aesthetics of Postcolonial Expression'.

In September 2016 I participated in a symposium concerning the history of Black and Asian British Writing at the University of Münster, Germany.

In September 2016 I delivered a research paper on transnational adoption at a symposium concerning 'Aesthetic Imaginaries' at the University of Bergen, Norway.

In March 2016 I delivered a research paper, titled 'Adoption and Diaspora: assimilation, contestation, critique', at the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Edinburgh, UK.

In October 2015 I spoke on 'Writing Transcultural Adoption' at the Postcolonial Studies Initiative forum, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

In September 2015 I was honoured to give a keynote address, 'Against Biocentrism: Adoption, Writing, Diaspora', at the inaugural Postcolonial Studies Association (PSA) convention at the University of Leicester, UK.

In August 2015 I delivered an invited keynote address, 'Transcultual Adoption and Adoptive Being', at a conference on Transnational and Transracial Adoption in North American Culture held at the University of Turku, Finland.

Teaching, 2016-17

Semester One:

       [On research leave, funded by the Leverhulme Trust]

Semester Two:

  • Postcolonial London
  • Contemporary Literature
  • Caribbean and black British Writing (MA)

Publications

Books

  • Life Lines: Writing Transcultural Adoption (Bloomsbury Academic: London, 2015), pp. 246 + ix. ISBN 978 1 4725 9038 1
  • J. G Farrell (Plymouth: Northcote House, 2007), pp. 115. ISBN 978 0 7463 0986 5.
  • Postcolonial London: Rewriting the metropolis (London and New York: Routledge, 2004), pp. 210. ISBN 0 4153 4460 3
  • Beginning Postcolonialism (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 274 + xii.  ISBN 0 7190 5209 2.  Second edition (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2010), pp. 333 + vxii.  ISBN 978 0 7190 7858 3

Edited books

  • The 1970s: A Decade of Contemporary British Fiction (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), ed. by Nick Hubble, John McLeod and Philip Tew, pp. 256.  ISBN13: 978 1 441 13391 5
  • The Routledge Companion to Postcolonial Studies (London and New York: Routledge, 2007), ed. by John McLeod, pp. 252.  ISBN13: 978 0 415 32497 7
  • The Revisions of Englishness, ed. by David Rogers and John McLeod (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, December 2004), pp. 194.  ISBN 978 0 415 32497 7

Edited Journals

  • 'New Diasporas, New Directions', special issue of Études anglaises: revue du monde anglophone, 70 (1), 2017.  ISSN 0014-195X
  • '(Con)figuring Sport', special issue of Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 12 (1), 2012 (edited with Shirley Chew).  ISSN 1474-4600 
  • 'Festschrift for Shirley Chew', special issue of Kunapipi: Journal of Post-Colonial Writing, XXV (1), 2003 (edited with Catherine Batt and Elleke Boehmer). ISSN 0106-5734
  • 'Post-Colonial London', special issue of Kunapipi: Journal of Post-Colonial Writing, XX1 (2), 1999. ISBN 1 87 1049 68 7

Essays in journals

  • 'Against Biocentrism: Blood, Adoption, and Diasporic Writing', Études anglaises: revue du monde anglophone, 70 (1), 2017, pp. 28-44.
  • 'Preface: New Diasporas, New Directions', Études anglaises: revue du monde anglophone, 70 (1), 2017, pp. 3-10.
  • 'Postcolonial Studies and the Ethics of the Quarrel', Paragraph, 40 (1), 2017, pp. 97-113. DOI: 10.3366/para.2017.0217
  • 'The Journal of Commonwealth Literature in the 1970s', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 50 (3), 2015, pp. 282-296. DOI 10.1177/0021989415594653
  • 'The City by the Water: Caryl Phillips in Conversation with John McLeod [interview]', Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 17 (6), 2015, pp. 879-892. DOI 10.1080/1369801X.2014.998258
  • 'London Crossings: Meeting Mike Phillips [interview]', Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 13 (1), 2013, pp. 148-154.  ISSN 1474-4600
  • 'Lessons from London: E. R. Braithwaite and Black Writing in 1950s Britain', Yearbook of English Studies, 42, 2012, pp. 64-79.  ISSN 0306-2473
  • 'Cricketing Multiculturalism in Caryl Phillips's Playing Away', International Journal of the History of Sport, 29 (12), 2012, pp. 1791-1804 -- ISSN 0952-3367.  [Reprinted in Sport, Literature, Society: Cultural Historical Studies, ed. A. Tadié, J. A. Mangan and S. Chaudhuri (Oxford: Routledge, 2013).]
  • 'Sounding Silence: Transculturation and its Thresholds', Transnational Literature, 4 (1), 2011, pp. 1-13 -- online at http://dspace.flinders.edu.au/jspui/bitstream/2328/25473/1/Sounding_Silence.pdf
  • 'Extra Dimensions, New Routines: Contemporary black writing of Britain', Wasafiri, 25 (4), 2010, pp. 45-52.  ISSN 0269-0055
  • 'British Freedoms: Caryl Phillips's Transatlanticism and the Staging of Rough Crossings', Atlantic Studies, 6 (2), 2009, pp. 191-206. ISSN 1478-8810
  • '"A sound that is missing': writing Africa in the Anglophone Caribbean', Journal of Transatlantic Studies, 7 (3), 2009, pp. 329-342. ISSN 1479-4012
  • '"Always turning": Colin MacInnes's Tour of the Thames', Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London, 5 (1), 2007, np. [This essay can be accessed at http://www.literarylondon.org/london-journal/march2007/mcleod.html ]
  • '"Between two waves": Caryl Phillips and Black Britain', Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 7 (1), 2007, pp. 9-19. ISSN 1474-4600
  • 'Postcolonial Fictions of Adoption', Critical Survey, 18 (2), 2006, pp. 45-55 - ISSN 0011-1570
  • 'Revisiting Postcolonial London', The European English Messenger, 14 (2), 2005, pp. 39-46. ISSN 0960 4545
  • 'Reading the Archipelago', Francophone Postcolonial Studies 1 (1), 2003, pp. 55-59. ISSN 0791-4938
  • 'Reflections on the Thames, Westminster', Kunapipi: Journal of Post-Colonial Writing, XXV (1), 2003, pp. 141-147. ISSN 0106-5734
  • 'A Night at "the Cosmopolitan": Axes of Transnational Encounter in the 1930s and 1940s', Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 4 (1) (2002), pp. 53-67. ISSN 1369-801X
  • 'Some Problems with "British" in "a Black British Canon"', Wasafiri 36, Summer 2002, pp. 56-59. ISSN 0269-005
  • 'Naipaul's London: Mr Stone and the Knights Companion', Moving Worlds: A Journal of Transcultural Writings, 2(1) 2002, pp. 42-50. ISSN 1474-4600
  • ' "Wheel and Come Again": Transnational Aesthetics Beyond the Postcolonial', HJEAS: Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies, 7 (2), 2001, pp. 85-99. ISSN 1218-7364
  • 'On the Chase for Gideon Nye: History and Representation in Timothy Mo's An Insular Possession', Journal of Commonwealth Literature , 34 (2), 1999, pp. 61-73. ISSN 0021-9894
  • '(Un)Popular Postmodernism: Reading Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World', Diegesis , 2, Summer 1998, pp. 30-35.
  • 'Exhibiting Empire in J. G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur', Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 29 (2), 1994, pp. 117-132. ISSN 0021-9894

Essays in edited books

  • ' "Adoption Aesthetics" ' in The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (1945-2010), ed. Deirdre Osborne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 211-224.  ISBN 9781316488546.
  • 'Race, Empire and The Swimming-Pool Library' in Alan Hollinghurst: Writing Under the Influence, ed. Michèle Mendelssohn and Denis Flannery (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), pp. 60-78.  ISBN 978-07190-9717-1
  • 'The Novel and the End of Empire' in The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Volume 7: British and Irish Fiction Since 1940, ed. Peter Boxall and Bryan Cheyette (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 80-93.  ISBN 978-0-19-874939-4
  • 'Black British Fiction and Culture in the 1970s' in The 1970s: A Decade of Contemporary British Fiction, ed. Nick Hubble, John McLeod and Philip Tew (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 93-116.  ISBN13: 978 1 441 13391
  • 'Postcolonialism and Literature' in The Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies, ed. Graham Huggan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 449-466.  ISBN 978-0-19-958825-1
  • 'Black British Writing and Post-British England' in Literature of an Independent England: Revisions of England, Englishness and English Literature, ed. Claire Westall and Michael Gardiner (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 175-187.  ISBN 978-1-137-03523-3
  • 'Taking Shortcuts: Literary Perspectives of the "Black Atlantic"' in New Perspectives on the Black Atlantic: Definitions, Readings, Practices, Dialogues, ed. Bénédicte Ledent and Pilar Cuder-Domínguez (Bern: Peter Lang, 2012), pp. 135-154.  ISBN 978-3-03911-801-4
  • 'Vido, not Sir Vidia: Caryl Phillips's Encounters with V. S. Naipaul' in Caryl Phillips: Writing in the Key of Life, ed. Bénédicte Ledent and Daria Tunca (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2012), pp. 109-125.  ISBN 978-90-420-3455-6
  • 'Postcolonial Writing in Britain' in The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, Volume I, ed. Ato Quayon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 2012, pp. 571-603. ISBN 978-1-107-00701-7
  • 'English Somewheres: Caryl Phillips and the English North' in Postcolonial Spaces: The Politics of Place in Contemporary Culture, ed. Andrew Teverson and Sara Upstone (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp.14-27.  ISBN 978-0-230-25225-7
  • 'Transcontinental Shifts: Afroeurope and the Fiction of Bernardine Evaristo', Afroeuropean Configurations: Readings and Projects, ed. Sabrina Brancato, (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011), pp. 168-182.  ISBN (10): 1-4438-3337-1
  • 'Writing London in the Twenty-First Century' in The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of London, ed. Lawrence Manley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 241-260. ISBN-13: 9780521722315
  • 'Nations and Nationalisms' in A Concise Companion to Postcolonial Literature, ed. Shirley Chew and David Richards (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 97-119. ISBN 978 1 4051 3503 0
  • 'Business Unbegun: Spectral Subjectivities in the Work of Jackie Kay and Pauline Melville' in Postcolonial Ghosts / Fantômes Post-Coloniaux, ed. by Judith Misrahi-Barak (Montpellier: Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2009), pp. 179-194. ISBN 978-2-84269-885-0
  • 'Dancing in the Dark: Caryl Phillips in Conversation with John McLeod' in Conversations with Caryl Phillips, ed. Renee T. Schatteman (Mississipi: University Press of Mississipi, 2009), pp. 143-150. ISBN 978-1604732108
  • 'European Tribes: Transcultural Diasporic Encounters' in Comparing Postcolonial Diasporas, ed. Michelle Keown, David Murphy and James Procter (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 19-36 - ISBN (13): 9780230547087
  • 'Diaspora and Utopia: Reading the Recent Work of Paul Gilroy and Caryl Phillips' in Diasporic Literature and Theory - Where Now?, ed. by Mark Shackleton (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008), pp. 2-17. ISBN (13): 9781443800136
  •  'Orphia in the Underground: Postcolonial London Transport' in Transport(s) in the British Empire and Commonwealth, ed. by Michèle Lurdos & Judith Misrahi-Barak (Montpellier: Publications de L'Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier III, 2006), pp. 389-405. ISBN 9782842697679
  • 'Fantasy Relationships: Black British Canons in a Transnational World' in A Black British Canon?, ed. by Gail Low and Marion Wynne-Davis (London: Palgrave, 2006), pp. 93-104. ISBN 1403942684
  • 'When Memory Dies: Tourism, Terror, and Literary Representations of the Sri Lankan Civil War' in Perspectives on Endangerment, ed. by Graham Huggan and Stephan Klasen (Hildesheim/Zürich/New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2005), pp. 171-175. ISBN 3 487 13022 X
  • ' "London Stylee!": Recent Representations of Postcolonial London' in Migrant Cartographies: New Cultural and Literary Spaces in Post-Colonial Europe, ed. by Sandra Ponzanesi and Daniela Merolla (Lanham: Lexington, 2005), pp. 229-238. ISBN 0 7391 0775 0
  • 'Postcolonialism and Minority Culture' in Arian Byw / Live Culture: A Positive Approach to the Crisis of Rural Welsh Language Communities, ed. by Dylan Iorweth et. al. (Wales: Y Ffwrwm, 2004), pp. 54-61.
  • 'Contesting Contexts: Francophone Thought and Anglophone Postcolonialism' in Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction, ed. by Charles Forsdick and David Murphy (London: Arnold, 2003), pp. 192-201. ISBN 0 340 80802 0
  • 'Other Times: English Writing After Empire' in Across Cultures: Issues of Identity in Contemporary British and Sri Lankan Writing , ed. Neluka Silva and Raniva Wijesinha (Colombo: The British Council, 2001), pp. 132-139. ISBN 955 9055 28 3
  • 'J. G. Farrell and Post-Imperial Fiction' in J. G. Farrell: The Critical Grip , ed. by Ralph Crane (Four Courts Press: Dublin, 1999), pp. 178-195. ISBN 1 85182 421 0
  • 'Men Against Masculinity: The Fiction of Ian McEwan' in Signs of Masculinity, ed. by E. Liggins, A. Rowland and E. Uskalis (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1998), pp. 218-245.  ISBN 90 420 0603 X
  • 'Living In-Between: Interstitial Spaces of Possibility in Timothy Mo's Sour Sweet' in Just Postmodernism , ed. by Stephen Earnshaw (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997)