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Maya Caspari joined the department in 2022 as a Lecturer in English and the Creative Industries. She is currently completing a book on the politics of touch in contemporary world literature, focusing on authors including Teju Cole, Katja Petrowksaja, Han Kang and Claudia Rankine. She is also co-editing a special issue of cultural studies journal parallax on decolonial feminisms.
In addition to her critical work, Maya is developing her practice as a writer and poet; her work has recently been published in magazines and journals such as The Poetry Review and Ambit, among others. She is very interested in exploring the intersections between critical writing and creative practice.
Maya previously worked at a number of arts and cultural organisations, and remains committed to public engagement projects. Prior to joining the department, she led the curation of the online exhibition, Forms, Voices, Networks: Feminism and the Media, for the German Historical Institute in London. She also supported the creation of the exhibition Can Robots Care? at the Thackray Museum of Medicine, as part of her postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Leeds. She has also previously worked at, or with, organisations including the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), the Migration Museum, and Wasafiri Magazine.
Maya’s BA was at the University of Oxford in English and Modern Languages (German). Her MA at UCL (Comparative Literature) was supported by Provost’s Studentship funding. She completed her PhD, funded by WRoCAH, at the University of Leeds.
Maya’s background is in comparative literary studies, however her work is interdisciplinary. Broadly, her research explores the ethics and politics of representation, particularly in relation to creative representations of violent histories. She is also interested in associated questions of relationality, touch and care—what an ethical form of relating to others might mean today—and how contemporary writers, researchers and artists engage these topics in their practice.
She is currently completing her first book on the politics of touch in contemporary world literature, focusing on authors from varied global contexts including Teju Cole, Han Kang, Claudia Rankine and Katja Petrowskaja. Exploring the representation of intertwined histories of modern violence, the book argues that contemporary texts generate new possibilities for relationality beyond liberal humanist celebrations of empathy, and challenge prevailing critical readings of ‘worldliness’. Drawing the authors’ approaches to relationality into its methodology, the book also proposes a creative-critical mode of comparative reading, which attends to the moving, unsettled and potentially uncertain effects of comparing different texts.
Maya is also beginning to explore related ideas in her creative practice: she is currently developing work on topics including touch, the narration of family histories across continents, traumatic inheritance, mixed-race identities, and girlhood.
In addition, she is currently co-editing a special issue of cultural studies journal parallax titled ‘Reading Otherwise’, which offers a series of in-conversations between leading thinkers and writers on decolonial feminisms today. Responding to her recent curatorial work, she is also increasingly interested in questions around the ethics of curation, exhibiting activist histories, and the future of the museum.
She is tentatively beginning work on a new project, ‘Textile Poetics’, which explores the way in which contemporary writers and artists represent and recycle fabrics and material objects to imagine new forms of belonging.
Maya welcomes proposals from research students interested in contemporary world literature, postcolonial literature, trauma studies, comparative literary studies of English and German-language literature, contemporary women’s writing, and work exploring creative-critical methodologies.
This year, Maya is convening the The Business of Books module and teaching on the Film, Culture, and Industry module.
Maya recently curated the online exhibition Forms, Voices, Networks: Feminism and the Media for the German Historical Institute, London. She also supported the curation of the exhibition Can Robots Care? at the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds, along with associated events. In previous years, the Migration Museum in London, Hyde Park Picturehouse Leeds and the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre to programme events such as film screnings and spoken word lates. She is a member of Museum Detox.
Maya has worked in editorial roles, including working as Digital Editor at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (ICA), as Associate Editor at parallax journal, and as a freelance editor and/or reader at literary magazines including Wasafiri and Granta. Her interviews with writers and essays on arts and culture have appeared in publications including the Los Angeles Review of Books, Another Gaze, and Wasafiri. Her poetry has recently been published in The Poetry Review and Ambit.