Claire Chambers

Profile

Biography

Claire Chambers is a Senior Lecturer in Global Literature, Convenor of the MA in Global Literature and Culture, and returning Graduate Chair (from September 2018). Before coming to the University of York in 2012, she worked for eight years in the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University. She studied for her undergraduate degree at Newcastle University and completed her MA and PhD at the University of Leeds.

Claire is the author of Rivers of Ink: Selected Essays(2017), Britain Through Muslim Eyes: Literary Representations, 1780−1989(2015), and British Muslim Fictions: Interviews with Contemporary Writers (2011), as well as editor (with Caroline Herbert) of Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representations (2015). Not only is she known for her writing on literary representations of Muslims in Britain and South Asia, but also for her work on the Bengali writer Amitav Ghosh. She has published widely in such journals as Postcolonial Text, Contemporary Women’s Writing, and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Claire is also Editor (with Rachael Gilmour) of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Her research has been supported by grants from HEFCE, the AHRC, ESRC (Impact Acceleration Award), British Academy, and Leverhulme Trust.

Her interest in the literature of the Indian subcontinent and ‘the Muslim world’ was sparked by the year she spent prior to university teaching in Peshawar, Pakistan.  It continues to be informed by return visits to the region, and by public engagement and schools work with diasporic communities. 

Research

Overview

Claire is an expert in contemporary South Asian literature written in English and literary representations of British Muslims. Her last monograph, Britain Through Muslim Eyes, traces the development of artistic depictions of Muslims in Britain from the eighteenth century to the present day. It has been reviewed in Newsline and Dawn. She is currently working on its sequel, Muslim Representations of Britain, 1988−Present, during a sabbatical supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

The first volume in this series of books, British Muslim Fictionsis now in its second edition, and has received positive reviews in the Times Literary Supplement and the Pakistani national newspapers The Friday Timesand Dawn.

Another book, co-edited with Caroline Herbert and entitled Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representations, was published by Routledge in 2014.

Claire recently compiled a collection of her essays for the Dawn newspaper and other outlets, entitled Rivers of Ink, and published by Oxford University Press.

Claire has wide experience of supervising undergraduates and postgraduates writing dissertations on South Asian, postcolonial, and British migrant literatures. She welcomes research students interested in many areas of contemporary literature, especially topics related to fiction from South Asia and its diaspora, ‘the Muslim world’, and multicultural Britain.

 

Supervision

Claire has wide experience of supervising undergraduates and postgraduates writing dissertations on South Asian, postcolonial and British migrant literatures. She welcomes research students interested in many areas of contemporary literature, especially topics related to fiction from South Asia and its diaspora, ‘the Muslim world’, and multicultural Britain.

Publications

Selected publications

Books

  • (2015) Britain Through Muslim Eyes: Literary Representations, 1780−1988. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • With Caroline Herbert (eds) (2015) Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representations. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • (2011) British Muslim Fictions: Interviews with Contemporary Writers. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Forthcoming Books

  • (2016) Muslim Representations of Britain, 1988−Present. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming.

Journal Articles

  • With Graham Huggan (2015) 'Re-evaluating the Postcolonial City: Production, Reconstruction, Representation. Foreword'. Interventions, 17.4, 1−5.
  • (2014) '"The Heart, Stomach and Backbone of Pakistan": Lahore in Novels by Bapsi Sidhwa and Mohsin Hamid’. South Asian Diaspora, 6:2, 1−19.
  • (2013) 'Countering the "Oppressed, Kidnapped Genre" of Muslim Life Writing: Yasmin Hai’s The Making of Mr Hai’s Daughter & Shelina Janmohamed’s Love in a Headscarf'. Life Writing, 10:1, 77−96.
  • (2012) '"The Reality and the Record": Muslim Asylum Accounts'. Moving Worlds, 12:2, 143−54.
  • (2012) '"Mujahideen, Making a Scene": The Sacred and the Secular in Four Lions'. Critical Muslim, 3, 185−202.
  • (2011) '"Guantánamo Boy": An Interview with Moazzam Begg'. Postcolonial Text, 6:2 (July), 1−12.
  • (2011) 'Representations of the Indian Ocean in Amitav Ghosh’s Fiction'. Wasafiri, 26:2 (Issue 66: Summer Special Issue on the Indian Ocean), 200−4.
  • (2011) 'A Comparative Approach to Pakistani Fiction in English'. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 47:2 (April), 122−34.
  • (2011) 'British Muslim Fictions?'. Race, Equality, Teaching, 30:1 (Summer), 35−9.
  • (2011) 'Poetry Round Table with Writers of Muslim Heritage'. Exiled Ink, 14 (Winter), 13−14.
  • (2010) 'Multi-Culti Nancy Mitfords and Halal Novelists: The Politics of Marketing Muslim Writers in the UK'. Textus: English Studies in Italy, 23:2, 389−403.
  • (2010) '"Meddl[ing] with my Type": An Interview with Daljit Nagra'. Crossings: Journal of Migration of Culture,1:1, 87−96.
  • (2009) 'Networks of Stories: Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome'. ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature, 40:2−3, 41−62.
  • (2009) 'An Interview with Leila Aboulela'. Contemporary Women’s Writing, 3:1, 86−102.
  • With Susan Watkins (eds) (2008) 'A Symposium on Doris Lessing'. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 43:2, 99−166.
  • With Susan Watkins. 'Editorial'. (2008) Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 43:2 (2008), 1−10.
  • (2008) 'An Interview with Vikram Chandra'. Wasafiri, 23:1, 45−48.
  • With Rachel Farebrother (2007) 'The Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka: A Review Article of Literature and Criticism Published in 2005'. The Year’s Work in English Studies, 86, 1059−75.
  • With Alex Tickell (2006) 'The Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka: A Review Article of Literature and Criticism Published in 2004'. The Year’s Work in English Studies, 85, 1094−1110.
  • (2006) 'Anthropology as Cultural Translation: Amitav Ghosh’s In An Antique Land'. Postcolonial Text, 2:3, 1−19.
  • (2006) 'Representations of the Oil Encounter in Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason'. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 41:1, 33−50.
  • (2005) '"[P]urity of the Classical Forms": Sexuality, Gender and Bharata Natyam in Texts from South India'. Moving Worlds, 5:2, 74−87.
  • (2005) 'An Interview with Geetha Upadhyaya'. Moving Worlds, 5:2, 136−46.
  • (2005) '"The Absolute Essentialness of Conversations": A Discussion with Amitav Ghosh'. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 41:1, 26−39.
  • (2003) 'Postcolonial Science Fiction: Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome'. Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 3:1, 57−72.
  • Articles in Edited Books
  • With Susan Watkins (2015) 'Writing Now'. In M. Eagleton and E. Parker (eds) The History of British Women’s Writing, Volume 10: 1970−Present. Basingstoke:Palgrave, pp. 245−65.
  • With Sue Chaplin (2012) 'Bilqis the Vampire Slayer: Sarwat Chadda’s British Muslim Vampire Fiction'. In Tabish Khair and Johan Höglund (eds) Transnational and Postcolonial Vampires: Dark Blood. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 138−52.
  • (2012) 'Sexy Identity-Assertion: Choosing Between Sacred and Secular Identities in Robin Yassin-Kassab’s The Road from Damascus'. In Rehana Ahmed, Peter Morey, and Amina Yaqin (eds) Culture, Diaspora, and Modernity in Muslim Writing. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 17−31.
  • (2011) 'Recent Literary Representations of British Muslims'. In Michael Bailey and Guy Redden (eds) Mediating Faiths: Religion and Socio-Cultural Change in the 21st Century. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011, pp. 175−88.
  • (2011) '"[A]cross the Border there Existed Another Reality": Nations, Borders, and Cartography in The Shadow Lines'. In Sandip Ain (ed.) Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines: A Critical Anthology. Kolkata: Worldview, pp. 19−53.
  • With Katharine Cox and others (2010) 'Key Critics, Concepts and Topics' and 'Changes in Critical Responses and Approaches'. In Jago Morrison and Katharine Cockin (eds) The Post-War British Literature Handbook. London: Continuum, pp. 107−58.
  • (2009) 'Postcolonial Noir: Vikram Chandra’s "Kama"'. In Nels Pearson and Marc Singer (eds) Detective Fiction in a Postcolonial and Transnational World. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 31−46.
  • (2009) 'History as Fiction, Fiction as History: Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land'. In O.P. Dwivedi (ed.) The Fiction of Amitav Ghosh: An Assessment. Jaipur, Rajasthan: Book Enclave, pp. 51−91.
  • (2009) 'In an Antique Land: A Fragmentary History of the Indian Ocean'. In Bibhash Choudhury (ed.) Amitav Ghosh: Critical Essays. New Delhi: PHI Learning, pp. 81−101.
  • (2008) 'Riots, Rumours, and Relics: Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines'. In Murari Prasad (ed.) Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines: A Critical Companion. New Delhi: Pencraft, pp. 37−55.
  • (2006) '"Tents Blooming in the Coconut Groves": The Effects of (Neo)colonialism on the Indian Landscape in Kamala Markandaya’s Pleasure City'. In Ranjan Ghosh (ed.) (In)fusion Approach: Theory, Contestation, Limits. Lanham: University Press of America, pp. 137−44.
  • (2003) 'Amitav Ghosh: General Bibliography'. In Tabish Khair (ed.) Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Companion. Delhi: Permanent Black, pp. 175−83.
  • (2003) 'Historicizing Scientific Reason in Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason'. In Tabish Khair (ed.) Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Companion. Delhi: Permanent Black pp. 36−55.

External activities

Memberships

External Activity

Claire is Editor (with Rachael Gilmour) of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, the leading critical and bibliographic forum in the field of Commonwealth and postcolonial literatures. She is on many advisory boards including those of Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture, NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry, Islamabad, and the new Rodopi book series Postcolonial Lives.

She is currently Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Storying Relationships (Principal Investigator: Professor Richard Phillips). Previously, she was a member of the AHRC’s Peer Review College, Vice Chair of the Postcolonial Studies Association and worked as a subject editor for the ‘Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka’ section of The Year’s Work in English Studies. She has also been awarded an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award for her project Leeds Meets Shakespeare, in partnership with Sarah Olive (Education), Leeds City Council Children’s Services, Artforms, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and Globe Education.

In addition to being one of Times Higher Education’s scholar-reviewers and a blogger on culture for the Huffington Post, she writes book reviews for such journals as Wasafiri, Contemporary South Asia, Feminist Theory, and Moving Worlds. She is a literary columnist for Dawn and 3 Quarks Daily.

She was a Project Partner in Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue, an international multidisciplinary network of scholars, practitioners and stakeholders, which sought to explore questions of trust in the relationship between Muslim diaspora populations in the West and the societies around them.

Claire is also one of six founding scholars (with Rehana Ahmed, Anshuman A. Mondal, Stephen Morton, Peter Morey, and Amina Yaqin) in the research group Multicultural Textualities. This group investigates whether multiculturalism may be seen to have failed, and whether liberalism can negotiate the needs and differences of non-white, non-Christian/secular citizens.

In 2014, Claire contributed to the Radio 4 documentary First There Was the Word, about Muslims and publishing in Britain, presented by Yasmin Hai and produced by Simon Hollis. You can download the podcast here. This contributed to her being invited to become a Committee Member of the HopeRoad Project, an initiative around diversity and traineeships in publishing. On 18 December 2015, a half-hour interview with Claire about her research on early Muslim travellers to Britain was broadcast on British Muslim TV, repeated on 7 January 2016. She has also spoken on Radio Asian Fever, BBC Radio Manchester, the BBC’s The One Show, and advised on postcolonial Shakespeare for an episode of BBC One’s The Big Questions. She regularly participates in literature festivals such as those at Ilkley, Karachi, and Bradford.

 

Claire Chambers

Contact details

Dr Claire Chambers
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 44 1904 324216