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Bill Schwarz, BA (York)


Professor of English



I studied English and History at York University, before going on to the Centre for Contemporary Studies at Birmingham for graduate study. I’ve taught Sociology and Politics at Warwick, Cultural Studies at the University of East London, and Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, and arrived at Queen Mary in 2004. I am an editor of History Workshop Journal.

I am also the General Editor (with Catherine Hall) of the Duke University Press series, “The Writings of Stuart Hall”. Currently this comprises fifteen planned volumes, including two books which I’ve co-written with Hall: Displacements: Lives and Ideas in Two Black Diasporas, Duke University Press, Durham, which is in press, and the forthcoming, Politics/Culture; Culture/Politics. I have just spent a year at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina preparing these volumes for publication.


Research Interests:

  • Twentieth-century Caribbean writing
  • Postcolonialism
  • Twentieth-century British cultural and political history
  • Some aspects of historiography, cultural studies, and media studies

Recent and On-Going Research

My research focuses on postcolonial history, looking in particular at the end of Britain’s empire. At present I am writing a three-volume history entitled Memories of Empire; the first volume, The White Man’s World, won the Longman-History Today prize for 2013. I also work on historiographical questions concerning the conceptual underpinnings of postcolonial history, and on the relations between history and memory.


Recent Publications:

‘Haiti and Historical Time’ in Charles Forsdick and Christian Høgsbjerg (eds), The Black Jacobins Reader, Duke University Press, Durham, 2016, forthcoming.

‘Black America and the Overthrow of the European Colonial Order. The Tragic Voice of Richard Wright’ in Ruth Craggs and Claire Wintle (eds), Cultures of Decolonisation. Transnational Productions and Practices Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2016, forthcoming.

‘The Silent Majority. How the Private Becomes Political’ in Anna von der Goltz and Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson (eds), Inventing the ‘Silent Majority’: Conservative Mobilization in Western Europe and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2016, forthcoming.

‘The Fact of Whiteness. Doris Lessing’s The Grass is SingingJournal of Southern African Studies 42:1, 2016.

‘After Decolonization, After Civil Rights: Chinua Achebe and James Baldwin’ The James Baldwin Review 1, 2015.

‘An Unsentimental Education. John Darwin’s Empire’ Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 43:1, 2015, pp. 125-144.

‘Creolization, West One. Sam Selvon in London’ Anthurium. A Caribbean Studies Journal 11:2, 2014, pp. 1 – 22.

Co-editor, with Sally Davison, David Featherstone and Michael Rustin, Stuart Hall. Selected Political Writings, Duke University Press, Durham/Lawrence and Wishart, London, in press.

With Stuart Hall, Displacements: Lives and Ideas in Two Black Diasporas, Duke University Press, Durham, in press.

Co-edited, with Rachael Gilmour, End of Empire and the English Novel (Manchester University Press, 2011)

Co-edited, with Cora Kaplan, James Baldwin. America and Beyond (University of Michigan Press, 2011)

Memories of Empire. Volume I. The White Man’s World (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Co-edited, with Susannah Radstone, Memory. Histories, Theories, Debates (Fordham University Press, 2010)

Editor, Caribbean Literature After Independence. The Case of Earl Lovelace  (Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2008)

Editor, The Locations of George Lamming (Warwick University Caribbean series, Macmillan, Oxford, 2007)

Editor, West Indian Intellectuals in Britain (Studies in Imperialism series, Manchester University Press, 2003)

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile

PhD Supervision

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

Current Projects include:

  • David Winks, ‘Travelling through the nation in the age of decolonization’
  • Alex Trask, ‘Middle-brow literature and memories of the First World War’
  • Samantha Bellotta, ‘Sex in the city: Migrant London and the policing of desire in Post Second World War British fiction from Andrew Salkey to Hanif Kureishi’.
  • James Russell, ‘The End of British Colonial Rule’.

Recently completed projects include:

  • Pria Taneja, 'Epic Legacies: Hindu Cultural Nationalism and Female Sexual Identities in India, 1920-1960' (2009)
  • Kate Houlden, 'Sexuality in the Writing of Male Authors from the Anglophone Caribbean: Roger Mais, John Hearne, Jan Carew, and Andrew Salkey' (2010)
  • Aaron M. Love, 'The Caribbean Novel and the Realization of History in the Era of Decolonization’ (2011)
  • Joanna Harrop, 'The yagé Aesthetic of William Burroughs: The Publication and Development of his Work, 1953-1965' (2011)
  • Rob Waters, 'Imagining Britain through Radical Blackness: Race, America, and the End of Empire' (2014)
  • Emily Hogg, ‘Literature and Human Rights since 1945’ (2015)
  • Helena Goodwyn, ‘The Journalism of W.T. Stead’ (2015)

Public Engagement

In the past I’ve been invited to speak at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, the Pears Institute for Anti-Semitism, the British Academy, the Freud Museum, Bush House, the Museum of Image and Sound (São Paulo), the East End Film Festival, the South Bank, Tate Britain, the Congress of Basque Studies, the Department of Historical Patrimony (São Paulo), and the Bishopsgate Institute.

In the past two years I have delivered lectures at the following universities: Vanderbilt, Duke, North Carolina, Stoney Brook, West Indies, Michigan, South Australia, Sydney, Montpelier, Copenhagen.

Since arriving at Queen Mary I’ve organized (with Rachael Gilmour and Javed Majeed) an event, ‘Celebrating African Literature’, with Chinua Achebe; ‘An evening for Earl Lovelace’, with Earl Lovelace; a large international conference (with Cora Kaplan) on James Baldwin and with an accompanying day at Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix, with successors in Boston, New York, Montpelier and Paris, and an event for Stuart Hall.

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