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School of English and Drama

Dr Ed Charlton, BA (Sheffield), MA (KCL), PhD (Cambridge)


Lecturer in Postcolonial and Global Literature



Before joining Queen Mary in 2021, I held two research fellowships at LSE Cities, London School of Economics, firstly as the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Cities and the Humanities, and, more recently, as a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow.


Research Interests:

  • Global Urban Culture
  • African Literature, Film and Performance
  • Post- and Decolonial Theory
  • Text & Image, specifically photography
  • Arts Organisations and Urban Policy

Recent and On-Going Research

My first book was published in 2021. Titled Improvising Reconciliation, this interdisciplinary study draws from my doctoral research on South Africa’s transition to democracy. It was produced with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Sustainable History Monograph Pilot and is available to download for free as an open-access e-book here.

I am currently completing my second book project, Sad Cities, which I launched as part of my British Academy postdoctoral fellowship. This work includes chapters on a series of former colonial, now arguably global cities, including Johannesburg, London, Toronto and Singapore. I explore a range of contemporary photographers, musicians, poets and creative non-fiction writers as part of my analysis.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, I have wide interests within the contemporary urban sphere. In 2020, I co-authored a set of digital StoryMaps on Johannesburg’s atmospherics, available here. More recently, I completed a collaborative project on socially engaged arts organisations in London, funded by the British Academy’s ‘Good Cities’ scheme. An overview and associated video of our research is available here.



Improvising Reconciliation: Confession after the Truth Commission. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2021.


with Hanna Baumann and Jill Weintroub, “Urban Atmospherics.” Writing Place: Journal for Architecture and Literature. 7 (2023): 100-112.

“A Zero-Hour City: Writing London in the End Times.” GeoHumanities. 6.2 (2020): 280-294.    

 “Trashing Johannesburg: Ponte City­­­-as-Archive of Everyday Loss.” cultural geographies. 27.2 (2020): 277-292.

“Melancholy Mapping: A ‘Dispatcher’s Eye’ and the Locations of Loss in Johannesburg.” Thesis 11. Special Issue: Performative JOZI. Eds. Noëleen Murray and Peter Vale. 140.2 (2017): 14-30.

“Apartheid Acting Out: Trauma, Confession and the Melancholy of Theatre in Yaël Farber’s He Left Quietly.” Theatre Research International. 42.1 (2017): 55-71.

“From Liberation to Liberalization: Newtown, the Market Theatre and Johannesburg’s Relics of Meaning.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. 17.6 (2015): 826-838.

“‘Only literature can perform the miracle of reconciliation’: A Resurrection of the Logos in South Africa’s Truth Commission?” Research in African Literatures. 42.4 (2011): 114-123.

Book Chapters

“Adapting Coetzee for the Stage and Screen.” The Bloomsbury Handbook to J.M. Coetzee, ed. Lucy Valeria Graham and Andrew van der Vlies. (London: Bloomsbury, 2023), 415-424.

Public Engagement

You can find an introductory conversation about Johannesburg I conducted with Professor Jo Beall (LSE) here. The original review can also be read here.

In 2016, I curated an exhibition of text and image in collaboration with the acclaimed photographer, Jodi Bieber. You can find a short introduction to the exhibition here.


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