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Joe Jackson

Associate Professor in Twentieth-Century and Contemporary English Literature, University of Nottingham

My work faces two of the big, related questions in twenty-first century Britain: how we represent racism and racial justice, and the changing national story of Britain itself. The literary imagination tells us many things about race and nation that statistics or social science research cannot. My approach questions the popular narrative of an increasingly diverse and inclusive Britishness - I look at many things that undermine such a narrative, including the history of racism, the aftermath of the Empire, and the possible disintegration of Britain into its smaller nations.

My research specialism is in late twentieth-century fiction, with a particular emphasis on the Scottish novel, on writing Blackness in post-war Britain, and on Caribbean fiction - areas which have evident, but also surprising and generative, overlaps. I published a book, Writing Black Scotland: Race, Nation and the Devolution of Black Britain (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) where I look at the way the politics of race - in a sense of government policy, in grassroots activism, and in an everyday social context - meet with the peculiar national formations of contemporary Britain. These include the 'master narrative' of Britishness and the stories of Britain's constituent nations like England and Scotland, as well as national affiliations that overspill territorial boundaries.

I also have a research interest in the literary representation of addiction: what literature can tell us both about addiction at the level of the individual people and their experiences, but also what it tells us about society more widely, in history, in attitudes, and as a metaphor for different things.


  • –present
    Associate Professor , University of Nottingham