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Professor Stephen Morton 

Professor of English and Postcolonial World Literatures, Head of Research

Professor Stephen Morton's photo

Stephen Morton is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton.

I was appointed as a lecturer in Anglophone Literature at Southampton in 2003 after teaching at Tampere, Finland and studying at Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. I was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2008, and to Professor in 2013.

My research interests include Anglophone postcolonial world literatures from Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, and South Asia, postcolonial theory, critical theory, poetics and politics, visual culture and globalisation.

I have published books, articles, essays, and reviews on postcolonial literatures, critical and cultural theory, and visual culture. I have also written on the importance of reading and teaching postcolonial approaches to literatures in schools, and have produced podcast material on the fiction of Chinua Achebe.

Research interests

My research interests include postcolonial and world literatures in English, including literatures from Africa, Canada, and South Asia, postcolonial theory, critical and cultural theory, poetics and politics, and visual culture. I have recently edited a special issue of the journal Research in African Literatures on Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God (with Ranka Primorac), and completed a chapter on 'Colonial Violence, Law, and Justice in Egypt' for a major new collection of essays on The Postcolonial Middle East, edited by Anna Ball and Karim Mattar. I have published books on States of Emergency in colonial and postcolonial literatures and law; the fiction of Salman Rushdie; and the postcolonial thought and criticism of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. I have also co-edited Terror and the Postcolonial (with Elleke Boehmer); Foucault in an Age of Terror (with Stephen Bygrave); and a special issue of the journal New Formations on Hannah Arendt after Modernity (with Devorah Baum and Stephen Bygrave).

Research projects

My current research includes two major new scholarly book projects: Allegories of the World System and In the Debt Colony: A History of Colonial Debt.

Allegories of the World System: Dispossession and the Commons in Postcolonial World Literature and Visual Art offers a major new intervention in the field of postcolonial world literature and visual culture. Extending Fredric Jameson’s claim that all allegories are utopian, the book traces the utopian expression of the commons in the allegorical form of postcolonial literature and visual culture. Since utopian thought has always been concerned to counter the rule of property, it is particularly well placed to articulate the collective work of ‘commoning’, which Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval (2019) see as crucial to addressing the urgent political, economic, and ecological challenges of the twenty-first century. Moreover, the utopian impulse of postcolonial allegory has sought to imagine alternatives to the histories of colonial dispossession, extraction, ecological devastation, social reproduction, and labour exploitation, which have shaped and determined the history of the modern world–system. Through original comparative readings of a wide range of literary texts by Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Zakes Mda, Helon Habila, Tomson Highway, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Maryse Condé, and visual artworks by Sondra Perry, William Kentridge, and Brian Jungen, this book argues that the allegorical codes of postcolonial world literature and visual art engage readers in the collective work of reimagining the planet as commons.

In the Debt Colony: A History of Colonial Debt argues that narratives of debt colonialism, or the relationship of indebtedness between European imperial powers and their colonies can shed important new light on the historical development of the modern economic world and its cultures of debt. In doing so, it seeks to answer the following questions: How has debt been understood as a colonial relationship? What role did credit and debt play in the management and negotiation of colonial sovereignty? And how significant is the language of debt in the formulation of anti-colonial resistance narratives? By comparing the language and rhetoric of debt in colonial archives and novels, banking records, the economic reports of imperial companies and global financial institutions, and representations of debt and austerity in postcolonial world literature and film, this book seeks to offer a major new account of the economic legacy of European imperialism.


Editorial Advisor Journal of Commonwealth Literature, New Formations

Serves on the Academic Editorial Board of the Book Series Multicultural Textualities (Manchester University Press)

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Book Chapters

I have acted as director of taught undergraduate programmes (2012-14 and 2019) and director of taught postgraduate programmes (2015-18). I convene the modules Utopias and Dystopias in Literature and Culture,  Sweatshops, Sex workers, and Asylum Seekers, and the Humanities, the Human, and the Non-Human.

I supervise or co-supervise a number of doctoral students, including Jared Mustafa-Holzapfel on Queer Arab Fictions, Hamida Allogmany on Muslim Magical Realisms, Dan Carter on Petrofiction in Modern American Literature, and Penny Cartwright on Globalization in African Literatures.

I have also supervised to completion the following PhD theses:

Islam el Naggar, 'Reading Egypt after Edward Said : a study in the worldliness of secular critiscm'

Michael Duffy, ‘Competing Postcolonial Temporalities: Sovereignty andTime in Pakistani Fiction’, David Fevyer, ‘Reading the anthropocene through science and apocalypse in the selected contemporary fiction of JG Ballard, Kurt Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan’, and Denise Greenfield, ‘Southern Spaces in Fiction from South Africa and the American South’.

Professor Stephen Morton
Faculty of Arts and Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/2001

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