Literary Studies is a long-standing research strength at UQ, and today encompasses a wide range of literary periods and cultures. UQ researchers have played an influential role in the editing, documenting and interpretation of a rich variety of world literary cultures. Our research includes Australian and British literature, the imaginative writing of other English-language literary traditions, and the study of a number of the major literatures of Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Our contribution to understandings of the world’s literary heritage and present literary creativity has been widely recognized. Our researchers have received numerous national and international awards and fellowships and include nine Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

UQ literary scholars also serve as board members on a variety of key cultural and scholarly institutions, including: The Australian Research Council (ARC) College; The Excellence in Research for Australia Humanities and Creative Arts Panel; The Council of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; The Australia Council for the Arts; The Australia-India Council; The Foundation for Australian Studies in China; and The Asian Studies Association of Australia Council.

UQ literary studies boasts a diverse network of national and global partners, including: the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe, 1100-1800), in which UQ is a participating university; and the UQ-led AustLit consortium.

Research occurs at:

  • Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, within the
    • School of Communication and Arts
    • School of Languages and Cultures
    • School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
    • Centre for the History of European Discourses
    • UQ Node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe, 1100-1800)  

UQ has particular expertise in the areas of: 

  • Early Modern English Literature
  • Australian Literature
  • British Literature
  • German, French, Spanish, and Russian Literature
  • Japanese, Indonesian, and Chinese Literature
  • The History of Book Publishing and the Study of Print Culture
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Life-writing
  • Translation from European and Asian Literary Texts
  • Roman, Greek, and Asian Classical Literatures 

Literary Studies in brief

  • More than 30 full-time equivalent researchers
  • More than 80 PhD and MPhil students in 2014
  • More than 280 publications since 2008
  • More than $4 million in research funding since 2008
  • Literary Studies research rated at the highest level – well above world standard – in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise
  • Outstanding library resources, including significant collections of Australian Studies resources in the Fryer Library’s special collections and major databases such as Early English Books Online.

Highlights of UQ Literary Studies

Innovative research in life narrative

  • In 2009, UQ was the recipient of a very special donation: two major collections of letters, photographs, and artworks produced by refugees seeking asylum in Australia and gifted by Julian Burnside, Kate Durham, and Elaine Smith. These materials, now held in the Fryer Library, present the experiences and perspectives of those detained on the island of Nauru as a result of the Howard Government’s “Pacific Solution” between 2002 and 2007. The collections also document the asylum seekers’ correspondence with humanitarian activists in Australia during this time. The richness and diversity of this archive prompted the establishment of an interdisciplinary Life Narrative project on the asylum seeker experience. The project is led by ARC Professorial Fellow Professor Gillian Whitlock, and has resulted in a series of articles, papers, seminars, exhibitions and a commissioned artwork by Ross Gibson and Carl Warner entitled Protection. 

Leading research in Australian literature

  • UQ has long been a leader in the study of Australian Literature and today boasts a strong research program in contemporary fiction, gender studies, and women’s writing. Our scholars work in such fields as Australian literary history and life writing, and pursue comparative studies of Australian and other Anglophone literatures.
  • Research in Australian literature is supported by AustLit: the Australian Literary Resource, a collaborative digital database enterprise involving scholars from around Australia. UQ is the lead institution on this unique initiative. AustLit includes Blackwords, a database of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers and storytellers and their work.

Core expertise in Early Modern English literature

  • Poetry, drama, and fiction written around the period between 1500 and 1800 continue to be a rich and exciting area of literary scholarship at UQ. Each year UQ hosts an internationally known expert in the field of Shakespeare Studies (the Lloyd Davis Visiting Professor).

  • Early modern literature research is supported by the UQ Node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe, 1100-1800). The Centre is a nation-wide collaborative research effort examining early modern history and culture. Early modern literature projects currently underway at UQ include a study of the relationship between reason and passions in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British literature; an analysis of literary and political responses to the English Civil War; an exploration of the intersection of the history of emotions and the philosophy of language; an account of the intersections of literature, luxury, and the marketplace in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England; and a major collaborative project on British literature and secularisation from 1600 to 1800.

Key contributions to contemporary and classical international literature

  • UQ’s research into contemporary and classical literatures from Europe, Latin America, and Asia continues to build new modes of understanding among the world’s major cultures. Our scholarship explores the literature of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany and Russia; contemporary French life writing and autobiography; Spanish poetry; and recent Latin American literature. Research into Asian literatures covers contemporary Japanese and Indonesian writing, as well as Chinese and Korean drama.

  • Translation provides the key to intercultural exchange in our rapidly changing world. UQ’s significant contribution in literary and scholarly translation ranges from the contemporary to the historical, from post-war German novels to Russian poetry, from European philosophy to Japanese women’s writing, from Latin and Greek literary and historical texts to Sanskrit epics and Indonesian traditional poetry.