English and Literary Studies

From novels and poems, to plays, films and television, we study how meaning is made

Research in English and Literary Studies is concerned with the creative expression of the world in novels, poems, plays, films and television. We address the creative texts that societies produce and ask what they mean. From Shakespeare to Netflix and from critical theory to creative writing, we take imagination seriously. Whether it’s imagining social inequality and environmental change, or simply what it means to be in love, creative works provide our deepest frameworks for understanding our lived experience and the lives of others. Studying literature makes you literate in the widest sense.

This discipline covers the literatures of Britain, America, Australia and postcolonial societies, and popular culture and film. We look at the rich history of the Western literary tradition, including Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf; writers who have done much to shape the way we live imaginatively in the world today. We also investigate the ways literature works in today's modern, digital and globalised landscapes.

Project highlights

Through their research, staff members explore a number of genres, historical periods and thematic areas, and are widely published in international journals, monographs and edited volumes.

Some of our current projects include:

  • Literature After Mabo
    Associate Professor Kieran Dolin explores the major shifts in Australian literature following the recognition of native title by the High Court of Australia in 1992.
  • Literature and the Environment in Australia
    Dr Tony Hughes-d’Aeth considers the way literature is connected to the Australian environment, particularly in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia.
  • The New Fortune Theatre
    The courtyard of the Arts Building in UWA contains a replica of the Elizabethan Fortune Theatre. The area is being revitalised with a Shakespeare Garden and a new book about the history of the New Fortune Theatre.
  • Children’s Literature and the Holocaust
    Dr Ned Curthoys’ work examines the way difficult topics are introduced to children through children’s writing.

Related centres


Our courses

Contact Discipline Chair Associate Professor Tanya Dalziell