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Dr Sarah Hayden BA, MA, PhD

Associate Professor in Literature and Visual Culture

Dr Sarah Hayden's photo

Dr Sarah Hayden is Associate Professor in Literature and Visual Culture. She leads the AHRC Leadership Fellowship project, 'Voices in the Gallery: Reading Unseen Texts' (2019-2021), in conjunction with John Hansard Gallery and Nottingham Contemporary.

I joined Southampton in 2016, having previously held Associate Lectureships in Visual Cultures and English & Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London and lectured occasionally at University College Cork and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. My doctoral and postdoctoral projects at University College Cork and the Freie Universität, Berlin were funded by a Government of Ireland fellowship and awards from the Irish Research Council and DAAD. 

At present, my research is focused on exploring the operation of voice in contemporary art. You can read about my current project, Voices in the Gallery, on my Research Interests page.

More broadly, my research and teaching centre on modern and contemporary literature and visual culture, and especially on their intersections. In my work, I often consider how ideas and aesthetics are translated and transformed as they pass between media, across cultural scenes and among artist groups. Research interests include art writing, modernism, minimalism, video, voice, avant-garde movements and experimental poetics.

I have published two monographs. The first, Curious Disciplines: Mina Loy and Avant-Garde Artisthood, is on avant-garde art movements and modernist literature. The second, Peter Roehr–Field Pulsations, is jointly authored with Paul Hegarty and is about German minimalist art from the 1960s. My next book will be about voice in contemporary art.

Research interests

Current Projects

In January 2019, I was awarded an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship, to carry out a research project titled 'Voices in the Gallery: Reading Unseen Texts'. For two years, I am working in partnership with John Hansard Gallery and Nottingham Contemporary to explore contemporary art’s invisible (withheld) textuality, as it manifests in the voiceover and voiced writing.

As part of the project, I curated the exhibition, Many voices, all of them loved, at John Hansard Gallery in 2020. This exhibition featured work by Emma Wolukau Wanambwa, Laure Prouvost, Kader Attia, Willem de Rooij, Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Liza Sylvestre. I also organised the Voicing the Political series of Study Sessions at Nottingham Contemporary and public workshops on voice and a community audio installation at John Hansard Gallery in 2019.

Various articles and essays generated from the first phases of this research will be published in 2020. An article on dematerialization and voiceover in Christopher Kulendran Thomas’s New Eelam project will appear in Cultural Politics in July 2020 and an article on liquid voice and sensorial sovereignty will appear in a special dossier later this year. An essay on voice in the work of Emma Wolulau Wanambwa was commissioned in 2020 for the New Artist Focus series at Lux. Another commissioned essay, on Nancy Holt’s Zeroing In, will be published by the Holt/Smithson Foundation in October 2020. Initial research for Voices in the Gallery was enabled by a DAAD Re-Invitation Grant, which funded me to do archival research at n.b.k. Video-Forum and the Department of Art History at the Freie Universitaet Berlin in the summer of 2018.

Since starting work on Voices in the Gallery in January 2019, I have given papers and invited talks on this research at the Mahindra Humanities Centre in Harvard, Cambridge, Toronto, Klagenfurt, Nottingham and elsewhere. I am now at work on my next book. Mediating between the imagined page, the recorded performance and the experienced sound environment, this monograph will propose an interdisciplinary poetics of the voiceover. You can read more about the project as it develops at

In 2019-20, I also collaborated with Dr Eleanor K Jones (Modern Languages) and Dr Pritipuspa Mishra (History) to organise Interruptions/Disruptions: a series of public engagement events and a poet-in-residence programme (featuring Nisha Ramayya) devised in response to the Many voices, all of them loved exhibition. Interruptions/Disruptions was funded by the Public Engagement with Research and hosted by John Hansard Gallery.

Other Research

My first book, Curious Disciplines: Mina Loy and Avant-Garde Artisthood, was published in 2018 by University of New Mexico Press. Positioning Loy as an exemplary theorist of the artist-figure (1909-1945), this study exposes Loy’s radically critical perspective on the evolution of the international artworld in transit from Europe to the US. Tracking Loy’s theorizations of Futurist, Dada, Surrealist and ‘Degenerate’ artisthood through her poetry, prose, drama and polemics, the book culminates in an examination of her legacies in 21st-century American poetics. Some recent reviews appeared in The Review of English Studies, Modernism/modernity, and American Literary History. Prior to publishing Curious Disciplines, I provided the introduction and edited new archival material for the re-issue of Mina Loy’s 1930’s novel, Insel (New York: Melville House Press).

My second book, Peter Roehr–Field Pulsations is jointly authored with Paul Hegarty. This book is the first monograph on the German Minimalist and Pop artist, Peter Roehr, who produced highly repetitive work using mass-produced material in text, film, sound, photographs, objects and images. As well as his artistic work, Roehr was significant in his curation of international art and is now being rediscovered as a force in 1960s experimental art.

Other critical publications include essays on paintings by the American artist, Jasper Johns and Dada prose by Francis Picabia. I also publish and perform as a writer. See Creative Practice.

PhD supervision

I supervise critical and creative doctoral candidates and would be delighted to hear from graduate students interested in working on projects connected to modernist and experimental literature, contemporary visual culture, art writing, and formally innovative poetry.

Research project

Voices in the Gallery

Research project(s)

Voices in the Gallery

Where once we entered galleries to find words displayed on walls or in vitrines, now we are encountering language in the artworld in a qualitatively different way. Art's literary content is entering the gallery as sound, as artists are increasingly drawn to activate the voice as sonorous, conceptual, metaphorical, and political material.

Voices in the Gallery: Phase 2

Connecting us across space, our voices reach each other in ever more diverse and innovative ways. Emerging technologies are generating new conceptions of what it means to 'speak' and to have a voice.

At Southampton, I direct the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Writing and organize the Entropics Experimental Poetry series. I am Principal Investigator for Voices in the Gallery.

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Book Chapters


Creative Media and Artefacts


I am currently on research leave and will return to teaching in 2021.

My poems have been published and performed in the US, UK, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland and Germany, in magazines including Blackbox Manifold, para-text, Golden Handcuffs Review, Tripwire, Datableed and in various anthologies. Four long cycles have appeared as the chapbooks, Sitevisit (Materials), Turnpikes (Sad Press), System Without Issue (Oystercatcher Press) and Exteroceptive (Wild Honey Press). I am currently working on series of lecture-poems.

I am regularly invited to give public talks and performances at arts institutions, most recently at Whitechapel Gallery London, Nottingham Contemporary, John Hansard Gallery, A Space Studios, 12 Star Gallery Westminster, the National Sculpture Factory, Sirius Arts Centre and Crawford Gallery in Cork, and the Coronet Printroom Theatre, London.

I also collaborate with visual artists on producing texts for installation or performance. I contributed a voiceover and pamphlet to the exhibition ‘Atherton After Ireland: A Kevin Atherton Retrospective, with Sarah Hayden’ (September 8th-October 28th, 2018). This exhibition is part of the One Here Now: The Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland Project at the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, Ireland. To inaugurate our collaboration, Kevin Atherton and I also worked together on ‘In Two Minds (1978/2018)’: Interrogated, a one-night event in January 2018. Essays on this collaboration appear in the commemorative artists’ book One Here Now.

Invited poetry performances include: Nottingham Poetry Exchange (March 2020); Sheffield Centre for Poetry and Poetics, University of Sheffield (October 2019); PUSH Exhibition Opening, CCAD (November 2019); Cardiff Poetry Experiment (December 2018), para.text 5 launch, Iklecktik, London (June 2018), Artichoke 10, Berlin (October 2017), Peter Manson Symposium, Glasgow (October 2017), Front Horse, Nottingham (May 2017), Anathema, Bristol (February 2017), Irish Experimental Poetry IUR special issue launch, NUI, Dublin (June 2016), Royal Holloway Poetics Research Centre, London (May 2016), Prague MicroFestival, Czechoslovakia (May 2016), X-ing the Line, London (April 2016), Hi Zero, Brighton (April 2016) Spring Poetry Festival, Cork (February 2016).

Dr Sarah Hayden
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BF, United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/2025

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