Key Research Interests and Expertise
In an entwined creative and critical project, I am investigating how a novelist can make a valuable contribution to the study of extremism today, which harks back to a golden past but is thriving on social media.
In recent years, several contemporary novelists have written about extremism, notably Kamila Shamsie in Home Fire (2017), Guy Gunaratne in In Our Mad and Furious City (2018) and John Wray in Godsend (2019). Yet few efforts been made to investigate how extremism today relates to the experience of life online. Where social media appears in Home Fire, In Our Mad and Furious City or Godsend, it appears only in the form of background detail, for example, references to trending topics or characters’ tweets. As in novels exploring extremism in previous decades – say, Hanif Kureishi’s The Black Album (1995) or John Updike’s The Terrorist (2006) – the radicalisation takes place offline. It is not shown to be related to the experience of life online.
In the creative element of my project, I aim to address this gap in contemporary literature. I am writing a novel with the working title England is Mine, exploring how a second-generation immigrant could turn to the far-right and end up committing a terrorist attack at a mosque. It considers the process of radicalisation today, whether there is something unique about the desire for self-representation online among second-generation immigrants, and whether extremism is encoded in the architecture of social media.
The critical element of my project is closely entwined with England is Mine. It engages with the work of Dostoevsky and the media environment in which he wrote that work, presenting him as a uniquely instructive model for a contemporary novelist wanting to make a valuable contribution to the study of extremism today.
I am undertaking a Creative & Critical Writing PhD with a CHASE studentship. The project is entitled 'A Creative & Critical Exploration of Extremism in the Social Media Age' and is being supervised by Vesna Goldsworthy and Thomas Karshan. I am also an Associate Tutor on the Contemporary Fiction (LDCL5069B) module, which considers the distinguishing preoccupations and characteristics of the novel today.