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Writing the First World War at Britain’s Margins - SACI0006

School of Arts and Creative Industries

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Dr A Frayn , Dr Scott Lyall Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project


The First World War was a truly global conflict, despite the enduring attention paid to Western Front narratives representing allied powers. Recent scholarship has aimed to democratise the history of the conflict, including work addressing less familiar fronts and recovering the experience of marginalised troops. The role of colonial troops is only starting to receive critical attention, while just as overlooked has been the role of peoples from Britain’s margins. The First World War came at a key moment for the development of national identities of the countries that were beginning to reclaim and develop their national identities and nationalisms, such as India and Scotland.

This project seeks to analyse the literary works produced by marginalised nations and diaspora in response to the defining event of the age. This might include novels, poetry, drama, periodical and non­fiction writing. The project focuses on wartime and interwar writing, although the candidate’s particular expertise will guide and shape the eventual scope.
There is particular local expertise in interwar First World War literature, Scottish literature and the Hiberno-lndian diaspora. Edinburgh Napier University also owns the Craiglockhart buildings, famous for being the site of the meeting between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

The candidate might address:
- The literary aesthetics of war texts by marginalised writers
- Comparative studies of the aesthetics of marginalised authors and canonical literary modernists
- Comparative studies of war texts written and published by marginalised writers in’similar sets of circumstances
- The voice of the subaltern in texts about the First World War and/or its aftermath
- Narratives of the periphery: writing back to the centre during and after the First World War
- The impact of the First World War on developing local and national identities
- Transhistorical comparisons between marginalised wartime writings

The successful applicant will benefit from expertise in the School of Arts and Creative Industries. The three supervisors for this project all have research interests and experience in related areas: Professor Basha bi Fraser has written extensively, both critically and creatively, on the connections between India, Scotland: she edited the seminal anthology Bengal Partition Stories: An Unclosed Chapter (2006), and has recently co-edited Scottish Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: The Continuum of Ideas (2017) and A Confluence of Minds: The Rabindranath Tagore and Patrick Geddes Reader on Education and the Environment (2017); her most recent collection of poetry is The Homing Bird (2017). Dr Andrew Frayn has published widely on First World War literature and literary modernism, and is the author of Writing Disenchantment: British First World War Prose, 1914-30 (2014); Dr Scott Lyall is an expert in Scottish and Irish modernism, and has published works including a monograph on Hugh MacDiarmid’s Poetry and Politics of Place: Imagining a Scottish Republic (2006), and edited collections The International Companion to Lewis Grassie Gibbon (2015), and Community in Modern Scottish Literature (2016).

Applications from students wishing to study part-time are welcomed.

Academic qualifications:
A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in English Studies or a cognate discipline with a good fundamental knowledge of the literature and history of the First World War, and the early twentieth century more generally.

English language requirement:
IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:
• Experience of fundamental studies in literature and culture
• Competent in textual analysis
• Knowledge of the literary, cultural and historical contexts of the early twentieth century
• Good written and oral communication skills
• Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
• Good time management

Desirable attributes:
Additional linguistic competence in Celtic or southern Asian languages may be beneficial, but is not a requirement.

When applying for this position please quote project code SACI0006

Funding Notes

This PhD opportunity is for self-funded students only.


Claire Buck, Conceiving Strangeness in British First World War Writing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
Santa nu Das (ed.), Race, Empire and First World War Writing (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Kate Mcloughlin, Authoring War: The Literary Representation of War from the Iliad to Iraq (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Spencer Mawby, The Transformation and Decline of the British Empire: Decolonisation after the First World War (Palgrave, 2015)
Lawrence Rosenthal and Vesna Rodie (eds), The New Nationalism and the First World War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
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