Since the establishment of UQ’s first lectureship in English in 1911, and its first Chair in 1922, English Literature at the University has played a leading role in the nation’s intellectual culture, offering generations of students an intensive training in literary studies. UQ also has one of the nation’s strongest traditions in teaching and researching Australian literature, supported by the exceptional UQ Fryer Library collection and the award-winning University of Queensland Press. By exploring new historical and contemporary contexts for writing, by attending to new genres, technologies, and modes of dissemination, and by establishing new connections with other disciplines, literary study remains at the centre of the humanities.

AustLit, a biographical and bibliographical database of Australian storytelling, is housed in the School of Communication and Arts, and is unique in the world. With over 1,000,000 records and 75 curated datasets - and growing, English students have many opportunities to engage with the database as both a research resource and via placements. AustLit is a partner on a number of ARC-funded research projects around the country and welcomes researchers in the literary studies and the digital humanities who want to make use of AustLit data in their projects.

Our academic staff contribute to some of the most exciting developments in the field including:

  • current debates in Australian literature and Australian popular fiction
  • the intersections between literature and the history of ideas (especially in the early modern period)
  • life writing
  • literary theory
  • reading and reception
  • literature and adaptationand
  • literature, gender and sexuality studies.

Literary studies staff have won significant external funding. Recent Category 1 funded projects include:

  • “Close Relations”, a study of Irishness in Australian literature using both traditional and computational literary analysis, an ARC Discovery Project 2023 led by Professor Ronan McDonald at University of Melbourne, with Professor Kath Bode (ANU) and UQ’s A/Professor Maggie Nolan.
  • “Digital Labour, Australian Women Authors, and Public Persona-Building,” an ARC Linkage Project 2022 led by Anthea Taylor at the University of Sydney and A/Professor Marg Henderson. The team will partner with the Australian Society of Authors, Australian Publishers Association, and Bookpeople.
  • "Media and Epidemics,” which investigates the role of media and communications technologies (including literature) in the making and managing of epidemics, led by the University of Birmingham with UQ’s Dr Melissa Dickson as a Principal CI, 2022-25 (funding body: CHANSE, Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe)
  • “The Antipodean Laboratory, 1770-1870,” a study of knowledge production and print culture from the Australian colonies, Professor Anna Johnston’s ARC Future Fellowship (2014-20).
  • “Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Diction in the 21st century” (ARC DP 2016–19), a collaboration led by UQ’s Literature and Creative Writing staff Em. Professor David Carter and Prof. Kim Wilkins, with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and the University of Tasmania.
  • a major exploration of the history of emotions in early modern Europe, undertaken in collaboration with colleagues at four other Australian universities: Hon. Professor Peter Holbrook, and the Centre for the History of Emotions (CHE), 2011-22.
  • an innovative account of the representations and self-representations of asylum-seekers, in the context of human rights theory, based on Em. Professor Gillian Whitlock’s ARC Professorial Fellowship (2010-14).

Literary Studies colleagues in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and in the Centre for Western Civilisations are regular members of our research events and supervisory teams.

The strength of literary study at UQ was recognised when the discipline was awarded the highest possible ranking in the national research assessment exercise: in ERA 2018 (the latest round), Literary Studies achieved a 5, well above world standard.

Join our team of leading researchers

The Literature team welcomes inquiries from established researchers interested in participating in our current projects; from potential postdoctoral fellows; and from anyone keen to pursue advanced study in literatures in English. Honours and Postgraduate literary study at UQ offers a challenging and rewarding research experience in which candidates acquire deep understanding of their chosen topic, developing strong analytical skills and a high level of proficiency in writing.