Dr Georgina Elizabeth Colby
Senior Lecturer in English
I'm part of
I am a Senior Lecturer in English and the Course Leader for the MA in English Literature: Modern and Contemporary Fictions.
Prior to joining the University of Westminster, I was a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London for a number of years. I also taught at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. I completed my doctorate at Royal Holloway in 2008.
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
At undergraduate level, with Dr Matt Charles, I am Module Leader for the first year module 'Keywords for Literary Studies'.
I convene the MA Special Topic Module, ‘Experimental Women’s Writing, Photography and Film.’ This research-led module focuses on experimental women’s writing. Organised chronologically, students explore innovation in women’s writing, photography and film through three key phases, from the Modernist period, to after 1960, finally addressing contemporary women’s writing in the twenty-first century. The module has a theoretical focus on gender studies, philosophies of language, and theories of the avant-garde. Authors, filmmakers, and photographers studied include Gertrude Stein, Dorothy Richardson, Claude Cahun, Djuna Barnes, Maya Deren, Anaïs Nin, Marguerite Duras, Cindy Sherman, Kathy Acker, Caroline Bergvall and Vanessa Place. The theoretical element of the course encompasses such thinkers as William James, Judith Butler, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, Denise Riley, Lyn Hejinian, and George Lakoff.
The majority of my work focuses on literary experiment, with a particular emphasis on modern and contemporary women's experimental writing, and avant-garde textual practice. I am interested in the way in which examining the archives of experimental writers can inform an understanding of the process of innovation and experimental composition. These research interests underpin my recent monograph, Kathy Acker: Writing the Impossible (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), which positions Acker as a key figure in the American avant-garde, and a pioneer of contemporary experimental writing. Through archival research I trace the stages in Acker's writing from her early poetic exercises written in the 1970s to her final writings in 1997. Each chapter focuses on a particular compositional method and insists on the importance of avant-garde experiment to the process of making new modes of meaning through formal innovation. More information on my archival research at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University can be found here. I am currently working on an edited collection, Reading Experimental Writing for Edinburgh University Press and a monograph on experimental writing and manuscript practice.
My wider research interests concern the relation between literary experiment, representation and social justice. In 2018 I was awarded a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for the project Feminist Representations: Sexual Violence Against Women, Asylum and Testimony. The project aims to explore the contribution the arts and humanities may make to address institutional failures in the area of sexual violence against women and girls, with a specific focus asylum, translation, voice and testimony. More information on this project can be found on the project webpages. The relation between experiment with form and language and voicing contemporary socio-political concerns underpins my current research into experimental women's writing, political solidarity and feminist activisms from 1970 to the present day.
I am the Founder and Director of S A L O N, with Professor Susan Rudy (QMUL). S A L O N, a site for reading and responding to the present through experimental women's writing was established at Westminster and is hosted by the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture at the University of Westminster and Queen Mary.
2018 BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (£9,753), 'Feminist Representations: Sexual Violence Against Women, Asylum and Testimony.'
2015 Arts Council England Grant. The Contemporary Small Press (co-investigator).
2014 Mary Lily Grant, David M Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University. I was awarded a Mary Lily Grant of $1000 by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University to consult the Kathy Acker Papers housed at the Duke University.
2012 Arts Council England Grant. ‘Death and the Contemporary’ (£7, 525).
Kathy Acker: Writing the Impossible (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016)
Reading Experimental Writing (ed.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2018). In progress.
Journal Special Issues
Death and the Contemporary, a themed double issue of New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, and Politics, 89-90, 2017.
'Feminist Homage and Experiment in Kathy Acker's Early Writings'. Journal of Narrative Theory, 48 (3); 2018. Forthcoming.
'Forms of Solidarity'. Jacket 2, April, 2018.
'Imaginary Intimacies: Death and New Temporalities in the work of Denise Riley and Nicholas Royle. Death and the Contemporary, New Formations: A journal of Culture, Theory and Politics, 89/90, 2017; pp. 170-192.
'Engaged Disengagement: Reframing as Feminist Critique in Vanessa Place's Tragodía'. Textual Practice, 31 (4), 2017; pp 707-723.
'The Reappropriation of Classical Mythology to Represent Pain: Falling Silent in the work of Kathy Acker and Robert Mapplethorpe.' Comparative Critical Studies, 9.1, 2012, pp 7-35.
'Radical Interiors: Kathy Acker's My Mother: Demonology and Cindy Sherman's 'Sex Series''. Women: A Cultural Review, 23 (2), 2012, pp. 182-200.
'Repressive Desublimation and the Great Refusal in Bret Easton Ellis's Fiction'. Textual Practice, 6 (2), 2011, pp. 319-345.
'Spaces in difference: Laura Parnes' Blood and Guts in High School', n.paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal, 19, 2007, pp 73-80.
'Experimental Inscription and the Archive: Kathy Acker's Manuscript Practice.' Reading Experimental Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2018). Forthcoming.
'Kathy Acker', in Kaye Mitchell (ed), The Edinburgh Companion to Experimental Women's Writing. In progress.
'Contemporary Artists and the Camera'; 'Performance and Participation'; 'Bodies Politic'; and 'Advertising' in Photography: The Whole Story (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012).
Media Articles and Reviews
'Strategic Vulnerability: Our Growing Recognition of Kathy Acker', The Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 2017; pp 3-4.
‘Sexual Violence Against Women and Credibility.’ Women’s Asylum News, 136, June/July, 2016, pp. 6-7.
‘Profiles in Research: Georgina Colby and the Kathy Acker Papers.’ Women at the Center. Newsletter, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Duke University, Issue 27, Spring 2015.
'Unfamiliar Crossings'. A review of Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson's Transatlantic Women's Literature. Contemporary Literature, 51 (2), Summer 2010, pp. 438-448.
'The Spice Girls Meet Kathy Acker', Unpopped BBC Podcast, 26 February, 2018. Guest interviewee.
'Kathy Acker's Guts', Freedom, Books, Flowers and the Moon, TLS podcast, October 26th, 2017. Guest interviewee.
BBC World Service World Business Report, 'The Future of Book Publishing'. 13th April, 2016. Guest interviewee.
Creative Writing (as editor)
OUTLines: Writing from the Small Press [ed.] (Oystercatcher Press, 2015)