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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.




The Digital Banal: New Media and American Literature and Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.

Winner of the BALCS 2017 Monograph Prize


Eds. Zara Dinnen and Robyn Warhol, The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018.


‘Becoming User: Oracle, Barbara Gordon, and representations of the user in popular culture’, Camera Obscura (forthcoming)

‘Automation Anxiety’, American Literary History, 34.2 (Summer 2022): 626–634

with Sam McBean, ‘The Face as Technology’, New Formations 93 (2018), 122-137

‘Understanding the Funny Military Music Video’. Journal of American Studies, 50.4 (November 2016): 899-921

‘Exaptation and the Digital Now’. Co-authored article with Rob Gallagher, Alex Myers, Daniel Rourke. Media-N Journal 10.1 (2014)

‘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)

‘Things that Matter: Representing Everyday Technological Things in Comics’. Studies in Comics. 3.2. Special Issue on Comics and Contemporary Cultural Theory. (2013)

‘In the mix: the potential convergence of literature and new media in Jonathan Lethem’s ‘The Ecstasy of Influence’’. Journal of Narrative Theory. 42.2 (2012)


‘Virtual Identities’, in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature (Oxford University Press, 2015—)

‘Digital Technology’ in The Routledge Companion to Twenty-First Century Literary Fiction, eds. Daniel O’Gorman and Robert Eaglestone, forthcoming Routledge, 2019.

“Cinema and the Unnarratability of Computation” in The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories, eds. Zara Dinnen and Robyn Warhol, Edinburgh University Press, forthcoming 2018.

“Becoming User in Popular Culture” in Affect and Social Media ed. Tony D. Sampson London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018

Some interviews, short pieces etc.

Interview with Zach Blas, The White Review Issue 32 (February 2022)

‘Conceptualising the User’ conversation with Niall Docherty, Tom Sutherland and Scott Wark (September 2021)

Short piece on reading Simone Browne’s Dark Matters (Duke UP 2015) for ‘What are you Reading?’, Times Higher Education no. 2341 (Jan 25, 2018)

‘Code on Screen’, New Criticals (2017)

‘“This is all artificial”: An Interview with Jennifer Egan’, Post45, (May 2016)

‘Digital Metaphors: Editor’s Introduction’. Alluvium 2.6 (2013)

‘Pictures of Self-Portraits’, In Media Res (2012)

‘Two Jonathans: Writing on comics in essays’. Invited post for Comics Forum (2012)

‘Interview with Jonathan Lethem’. Dandelion. 2. Podcast. (2011)



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

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