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Dr Zara Dinnen, BA (Leeds) MA (Leeds) PhD (Birkbeck)


Lecturer in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature



I am originally from London. I did my BA in English and History of Art at University of Leeds, and went back to Leeds to do an MA in American Literature and Culture. I came back to London and did a PhD in English at Birkbeck University of London. I have taught at Birkbeck and Roehampton University, and was Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at University of Birmingham from 2013, until I joined QMUL in 2017.

I am a founding executive committee member of the British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies

From 2009-2014 I co-convened the Contemporary Fiction Research Seminar at Institute of English Studies with Dr Tony Venezia at Birkbeck, University of London. The series hosted guest speakers and panels to talk across a range of fields, and convened skills workshops for PGRs and ECRs. See for an archive of materials.

Follow me on Twitter here

Undergraduate Teaching

In the 2017-18 academic year I am teaching on the following Undergraduate modules:



Research Interests:

  • Digital culture
  • New media
  • Contemporary American literature
  • Popular culture
  • Visual culture

Recent and On-Going Research

I research representations of digital media in literary and popular culture. My first monograph explores what I term, ‘the digital banal’. The digital banal describes the way we encounter new media as already boring, and so are unable to engage with the novelty of our mediational everyday lives. In this project, I consider realist/reality narratives of contemporary life lived with digital technology, and work to recover the novel conditions of becoming-with technology latent in otherwise banal everyday occurrences.

My interest in literature and new media has also led to a series of Leverhulme/BA funded workshops, co-organised with Dr Sam McBean (QMUL) on “Mediating Contemporary Literature”, which took place in the academic year 2016/17.

Current research explores popular depictions of computation as mighty and powerful obfuscation. Here I am interested in the figures of hackers and users as well as displays of complex computation that resist narrativization. I am looking at Hollywood films, comics, and documentaries, as well as popular press reporting of new user/hacker sovereignties.




The Digital Banal: New Media and American Literature and Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.



Eds. Zara Dinnen and Robyn Warhol, The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018.



(in development) "New Media Face Cultures, Cinematic Affect, and the recent films of Scarlett Johansson", with Sam McBean (QMUL)

‘Understanding the Funny Military Music Video’. Journal of American Studies, 50.4 (November 2016): 899-921

‘Exaptation and the Digital Now’. Co-authored article with Rob Gallagher, Alex Myers, Daniel Rourke. Media-N Journal 10.1 (2014)

‘Breaking out that Perl Script: The imaging and imagining of code in The Social Network and Catfish’. European Journal of American Culture. 32.2 (2013)

‘Things that Matter: Representing Everyday Technological Things in Comics’. Studies in Comics. 3.2. Special Issue on Comics and Contemporary Cultural Theory. (2013)

‘In the mix: the potential convergence of literature and new media in Jonathan Lethem’s ‘The Ecstasy of Influence’’. Journal of Narrative Theory. 42.2 (2012)



“Cinema and the Unnarratability of Computation” in The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories, eds. Zara Dinnen and Robyn Warhol, Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2018.


“Becoming User in Popular Culture” in Affect and Social Media ed. Tony D. Sampson London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018


Interviews, short pieces etc. [all available online]

‘“This is all artificial”: An Interview with Jennifer Egan’, Post45, (May 2016)

ScarJo’s Face: A Mediation on the Digital’, In Media Res (2015)

‘Talking Contemporary Fiction: A conversation,’ with Bianca Leggett and Tony Venezia. C21: Journal of 21st Century Writings. 3.1 (2014)

‘Digital Metaphors: Editor’s Introduction’. Alluvium 2.6 (2013)

‘Early career researchers: ever thought about teaching in schools?’ Guardian Higher Education Network (12 April 2013).

‘Pictures of Self-Portraits’, In Media Res (2012)

‘Two Jonathans: Writing on comics in essays’. Invited post for Comics Forum (2012)

‘Androids in the Academy’. Alluvium. 1.5 (2012)

‘Interview with Jonathan Lethem’. Dandelion. 2. Podcast. (2011)

PhD Supervision

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

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