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Dr Ed Charlton, BA (Sheffield), MA (KCL), PhD (Cantab)


Lecturer in Postcolonial and World Literatures



I arrived at Queen Mary in September 2016. For the academic year 2015-16, I was Mellon Fellow in Cities and the Humanities at the LSE, where I worked on a new interdisciplinary project about Johannesburg. I completed my PhD, focussed on the cultural legacies of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at the University of Cambridge in 2014, and contributed to teaching in the Faculty of English and the Faculty of Education during my time there. Before this, I studied for an MA in English at King’s College, London and a BA in English at the University of Sheffield. I hail originally from Nottingham.


Research Interests:

My primary research interests

  • South African literary culture
  • The Contemporary City, particularly Johannesburg and London
  • Creative non-fiction writing
  • Autobiography, confession and testimonial modes of representation
  • Melancholy

Recent and On-Going Research

I am currently engaged in two projects. The first updates the research I completed during my doctoral study and examines South Africa’s confessional culture, looking in particular at texts, films and performances that emerged in the immediate wake of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. My second project was begun last year at the LSE and is provisionally entitled ‘Metropolitan Melancholia’. Taking the city as a site of loss and anomie, it considers the ways in which urban space is variously melancholic in character. This project is a comparative, broadly interdisciplinary one and looks at cities including Johannesburg, London and (soon) New York.

I am a founding member of Writing South Africa Now. For more, see: @WritingSANow


“Melancholy Mapping: a ‘Dispatcher’s Eye’ and the Locations of Loss in Johannesburg.” Thesis 11. Special Issue: Performative JOZI. [Forthcoming 2017]

“Apartheid Acting Out: Duma Kumalo’s Melancholy Confession in He Left Quietly.” Theatre Research International. 41.3 (2016) [Forthcoming]

“From Liberation to Liberalization: Newtown, the Market Theatre, and Johannesburg’s Relics of Meaning.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 17.6 (2015)

Review Essay

"'Only literature can perform the miracle of reconciliation’: A Resurrection of the Logos in South Africa's Truth Commission?” Research in African Literatures. 42.4 (Winter, 2011)


"Yvette Hutchison, South African Performance and Archives of Memory (2013)." Journal of Contemporary Drama in English. 4.2 (2016).

“Reading Lessons: The Chronic (‘New Cartographies’, March 2015)”, Africa in Words, February 2016.

“Nadia Davids, An Imperfect Blessing (2014)”, Africa in Words, July 2015.

“Jim in the Urban Jungle – South African print culture and Jungle Jim”, Africa in Words, December 2012.

PhD Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

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