Wendy McMahon

Wendy McMahon


  • 3.11 Arts

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Caribbean Literature; Caribbean Studies; American literature; American Studies; African American literature; Environmental Humanities; Ecocriticism; intersections of literature / cultural expression with climate change, crisis, hazard, and disaster, capitalism.

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Personal profile

Key Research Interests

Caribbean literatures; Contemporary American Literature; Cuban Literature; Latin American Literature; 'World' literatures; Literature of exile; Diasporic literatures;  postcolonial literatures, cultures, and theories; colonialism, postcolonialism, neocolonialism, decolonialism;  Literary and critical theory; ecocriticism; Environmental Humanities; literature and law, literature and human rights, literature and politics,  literature and science. 



Key Responsibilities

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College

Member of the AHRC Peer Review College (ODA)

CHASE Faculty of Arts and Humanities Panelist

Eastern Arc Champion for Human Rights, Equality, and Conflict. 

Academic lead on the Arts Council funded National Writers Centre project, Collaboration, Place, Change (2019-2021)  

Associate Dean for Employability, Faculty of Arts and Humanities (2015-2020) 

Director, Arts and Humanities, Schools: University Partnership Initiative (RCUK) (2013-2016) 

National Ambassador for Public Engagement (NCCPE) 


Wendy McMahon is an Associate Professor in American Studies. She joined the School of American Studies at UEA in 2010 after completing her PhD at the University of Essex. Wendy's research interests centre around the literatures of the American hemisphere and include African American literatures and human rights, literature and law, literature and social justice, representations of capitalism and globalisation, post-9/11 literature, literature, conflict and security, diaspora and exile writing, literary engagements with ideas of home, belonging, and citizenship, and  literature, space, place, and the natural environment. Wendy has published on Cuban exile writing, Caribbean literature and masculinity, the aesthetics and politics of belonging in Caribbean literature; human rights, law, and contemporary American fiction; radical traditions in the Americas; and decolonial humanism.   

From 2017-2019 Wendy was the Principle Investigator on an interdisciplinary AHRC-GCRF funded project, Explosive Transformations: Cultural Resilience to Natural Hazard on St Vincent and Montserrat, which brings literary studies together with volcanology and international development in order to explore the cultural presence of the volcano in the volcanic islands of the Eastern Caribbean and how this influences community repsonses to the risks of hazardous landscapes. Wendy's Co-Investigators on this project are Professor Jenni Barclay (Environmental Sciences, UEA), Dr Teresa Armijos Burneo (International Development, UEA) and Professor David Pyle (Earth Sciences, University of Oxford), and partners are The Montserrat Volcano Observatory and the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre. Wendy is co-investigator on the AHRC funded follow-on project led by Professor Jenni Barclay, Disasters Passed: Resilient Futures via Shared Knowledge of Recent Disasters. In addition, Wendy is a Co-investigator on a Royal Society funded project, Making Sense of Risk and Uncertainty: Narrative and Metaphor in the Face of Volcanic Activity and was co-investigator on the NERC-GCRF funded project, Harnessing 'citizen science' to reinforce resilience to environmental disasters: creating an evidence base of community practice, both led by Professor Jenni Barclay.  Several publications from these projects are in progress, including a monograph on Caribbean literatures and geology.  

In 2022 Wendy published a co-edited anthology of Caribbean writing with Dr Yvonne Weekes (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus), Disaster Matters, Disasters Matter, that addresses natural hazards faced by the region. The anthology includes writing by 52 writers from 19 territories from the region. The book was funded by a UEA GCRF-QR grant and has been distributed to secondary schools and libraries across the Eastern Caribbean to be used in English, Theatre Studies, Geography, History, and Social Studies classrooms. Since publication, launch events and workshops have taken place in Antigua, St Martin, Grenada, and Barbados, and in late 2022 Wendy was awarded further funding to produce a second print run to meet growing demand and widen distribution as well as organise a run a series of workshops with Ministries of Education in the region. The first of these workshops took place in January 2023 with the Ministries of Education, teachers, and examination boards on Antigua and Barbados. 

Wendy is also working on a special issue on hope, climate change, and the literatures of the American hemisphere with Dr Rebecca Tillett, due to be published by the journal Comparative American Studies in late 2023; a  project on African American literatures, law and human rights, and has co-edited with Dr Stanislava Dikova and Dr Jordan Savage (Essex) a double volume collection on love and politics, Love and the Politics of Care and Love and the Politics of Intimacy, published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2022. 




Teaching Interests

American Studies I: American Now, America Then (first year core module: convenor)

American Studies II: Beyond Boundaries (first year core module: convenor)

New American Century: Culture and Crisis (final year module) 

This year, Wendy is teaching on two modules for LDC, Reading Now, and Writing Across Borders

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals