Skip to main content
School of English and Drama

Dr Zara Dinnen, BA (Leeds) MA (Leeds) PhD (Birkbeck)


Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature

Twitter: @zara_dinnen


I have been a lecturer at QMUL since 2017. I grew up in London. I went to Leeds to do a BA in English and History of Art, and MA in American Culture at the University of Leeds, and I came back to London for a PhD in English at Birkbeck. I have taught at Birkbeck, Roehampton University, and was Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at University of Birmingham 2013-17. My research has primarily focussed on new media and digital technologies in relation to popular culture. In 2019 I convened a short course on new media art at the Tate Modern. I was a founding committee member of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies; and am currently an associate editor for ASAP Journal. Since June 2022 I have been QMUCU branch co-chair.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH293: The Long Contemporary
  • ESH6058: Look Who’s Computing Now

Postgraduate Teaching

I have also taught:

  • ESH7010: The State of the Novel


Research Interests:

  • Digital culture
  • New media
  • Contemporary American literature
  • Popular culture
  • Visual culture

Recent and On-Going Research

I research representations of digital media in literary and popular culture. My first monograph explores what I term, ‘the digital banal’. The digital banal describes the way we encounter new media as already boring, and so are unable to engage with the novelty of our mediational everyday lives. In this project, I consider realist/reality narratives of contemporary life lived with digital technology, and work to recover the novel conditions of becoming-with technology latent in otherwise banal everyday occurrences.

Recent research has turned to thinking about the user-subject in digital culture, and specifically as the user emerges in 1990s US popular culture; and to the topic of “repair”, questioning the possible limits and horizons of reparative affects in contemporary UK culture. 


Recent work:

(Article) ‘Becoming User: Oracle, Barbara Gordon, and Representations of the User in Popular Culture’, Camera Obscura 114, 38.3: 141-171. 
(Essay) with James Eastwood, ‘How to Stop a University’, Notes from Below (December 2022).
(Review Essay) ‘Automation Anxiety’, American Literary History, 34.2 (Summer 2022): 626-634.
(Interview) ‘Interview with Zach Blas’, The White Review Issue 32 (March 2022). 
(Interview) ‘Conceptualising the User’, a conversation with Niall Docherty of Microsoft (September 2021).
(Book) The Digital Banal: New Media and American Literature and Culture, Columbia UP, 2018.
(Book) Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories, Eds. Zara Dinnen and Robyn Warhol, Edinburgh UP, 2018.
(Article) with Sam McBean ‘The Face as technology’, New Formations 93 (Summer 2018): 122-137.
(Article) ‘Understanding the Funny Military Music Video’, Journal of American Studies, 50.4 (November 2016): 899-921.
(Article) ‘Breaking out that Perl Script: The imaging and imagining of code in The Social Network and Catfish’, European Journal of American Culture. 32.2 (2013).
(Chapter) ‘Becoming User in Popular Culture’ in Affect and Social Media, eds. Tony D. Sampson, Darren Ellis, Stephen Maddison, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. 


I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.

Back to top