Within literary studies, department scholars are engaged in research on a broad range of topics, with an emphasis on the globally circulating English-language literatures during and after decolonization. Research at the department is carried out drawing on a plurality of theoretical and critical approaches, including narratology, translation theory, sociology of literature, new economic criticism, phenomenology, postcolonial theory and border poetics. Department scholars publish nationally and internationally, are successful in getting external funding, and are highly active in national and international networks.

Although there is a predominant interest in more recent literature at the department, novels of the Victorian period are studied by Marion Helfer Wajngot and Marina Ludwigs, who both have an interest in narrative theory. Wajngot’s research centers on the notion of interpretive narrative, and the relation between interpretive repetition and ethics, while Ludwigs investigates epiphanic structures – narrative configurations around the central point of epiphany – that act as strategies for bridging the gap of representation. These scholars contribute new perspectives within the area of nineteenth-century English fiction studies.

Ludwigs’ study straddles the threshold between Victorian and modernist literature, and within modernism important new scholarship is carried out also by Research Fellow Irina Rasmussen Goloubeva. She has published on James Joyce, and her current project, “Modern Literary Economies between the World Wars,” studies figurations of labour and market relationships in Joyce, Woolf, and Hemingway, thus aiming to contribute to the field of new economic criticism in literary studies.

Within the Phenomenological Research Unit, Professor Harald Fawkner has developed neo-phenomenological methods and vocabularies for dealing directly with the literary work of art in its affective immanence. In recent years, he has published phenomenological examinations of the fiction of Mary Noailles Murfree and John Cowper Powys. Another scholar working with a phenomenological approach is Joakim Wrethed, who has published on John Banville and is currently studying the phenomenological function of ekphrasis in Banville’s oeuvre.

Working within the sociology of literature, Bo G. Ekelund has been involved with research projects funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund, on the conditions of access to authorship in the US (1940-2000), and by the Swedish Research Council, on the reproduction of foreign literature in the Swedish fields of criticism and translation. Another project using a sociological perspective is Paul Schreiber’s work on the attitudes toward US literature in the awarding of Nobel prizes in literature.

Schreiber also represents, along with Adnan Mahmutovic, a research interest in Creative writing, which informs the department’s courses in Creative writing and the production, each year, of an anthology of new writing (Stockholm Syndromes in 2011, Two Thirds North henceforth). A recent project of Schreiber’s is devoted to the use of English in poetry and song-lyric writing in Sweden.

Several scholars at the department are concerned with contemporary literatures that demand a comparative, or a “border” perspective. Claudia Egerer has been interested in and investigated conceptions of borders and border-crossings since her dissertation Fictions of (In)Betweenness (1997). She has worked with the international Border Poetics Research Group (housed at the University of Tromsø ) to develop a “border poetics.” She is currently exploring borders between man and animal in literature and philosophy (working title: Compassionate Bodies: Animal Ethics and Literature).

Other border writers are explored by Adnan Mahmutovic, who has written on issues of authenticity and new modes of communal existence in the works of Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje and Ben Okri. His current work is on issues of fundamentalism and identity in American Muslim writing since 2001. Constructions of space depend on boundary work, and in 2011 Bo G. Ekelund received funding from the Research Council for a project exploring such constructions in Anglophone Caribbean literature.

Professor Stefan Helgesson has been involved in a number of research projects, including the large-scale research programme “Literature and Literary History in Global Contexts” (1999–2006), as well as two individual Research Council-funded projects on post-Second World War literature in Southern Africa and “Inventing World Literature”, a study of translations of and translation in the work of Mia Couto, Clarice Lispector, Assia Djebar and J. M. Coetzee. His recent work has taken a comparative turn, with a special focus on writing in English and Portuguese. This has entailed a combined theoretical and methodological focus on postcolonialism, translation theory and world literature. Helgesson is currently participating in the multidisciplinary research programme Time, Memory and Representation, funded by Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund (see histcon.se) with a project entitled “Illegitimate History: Postcolonial Temporalities and Literary Language.”

As can be seen, the department’s vibrant research environment accommodates a number of scholarly apporaches which nonetheless are in dialogue with one another. The long-term goal is to develop a greater number of collaborative projects within the department as well as with other disciplines and universities. In its ambition to create and sustain a cutting-edge research environment, the department regularly invites prominent visiting research fellows and hosts symposia with scholars from Sweden and abroad. The Higher Literary Seminars, which run on a weekly basis each Tuesday afternoon during semesters, serve as the context for work in progress – emanating from the department – discussed in a spirit of critical and constructive engagement. Besides this, the Tuesday seminars also regularly feature highly regarded guest speakers.