School of English and Drama

Dr Huw Marsh, BA (Hull) MA (UEA) PhD (London)


Lecturer in Modernist and Contemporary Literature



My work focuses on post-war and contemporary Anglophone fiction, with particular interests in comedy, history and the historical novel, and narrative. I did my undergraduate degree in American Studies and English at the University of Hull and my MA in Studies in Fiction at UEA. After moving to London I worked as a bookseller for a year before joining Queen Mary as a PhD student, supervised by Dr Mary Condé. My AHRC-funded PhD research  focused on the representation of the past in the novels of Beryl Bainbridge, and this research formed the basis of my first book, Beryl Bainbridge (2014). A chapter of the book examines the comic voice in Bainbridge’s novels of the 1970s, and this research led to my current work on comedy in contemporary fiction, forthcoming in The Comic Turn in Contemporary British Fiction: Who’s Laughing Now? (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic). I have taught in the Department of English since 2007 and am currently Lecturer in Modernist and Contemporary Literature. I also hold an administrative position as Research and Graduate Studies Manager.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH123: Narrative
  • ESH6025: Laughing Matters: Comedy and Contemporary Culture

Postgraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • ESH7001: The Production of Texts in Context


Research Interests:

  • Contemporary fiction; twentieth-century fiction
  • Comedy, especially literary comedy; the theory and philosophy of comedy
  • Canonicity
  • The historical novel
  • Narrative

Recent and On-Going Research

My research focuses mainly on twentieth-century and contemporary fiction. Particular interests include comedy, the historical novel, canonicity, and narrative theory.  My PhD thesis was a study of the novels of Beryl Bainbridge and explored her engagement with the past in its many senses. This research formed the basis of my first book, Beryl Bainbridge (2014). In addition to my work on Bainbridge I have published journal articles and book chapters on Nicola Barker, Penelope Lively and adaptations of the 1954 Parker-Hulme murder. My current research focuses on comedy in contemporary fiction and examines this overlooked aspect of narrative in relation to critical developments in fields such as affect theory and narratology, as well as the theory and philosophy of comedy and humour. The main output from this research will be a monograph entitled The Comic Turn in Contemporary British Fiction: Who’s Laughing Now? (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic), which identifies a discernible ‘comic turn’ in contemporary British fiction and incorporates discussions of authors including Martin Amis, Nicola Barker, Julian Barnes, Jonathan Coe, Howard Jacobson, Magnus Mills, and Zadie Smith.




The Comic Turn in Contemporary British Fiction: Who’s Laughing Now? (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic)

Beryl Bainbridge, Writers and their Work series (Tavistock: Northcote House in Association with the British Council, 2014); ISBN: 978-0746312193 (hardback), 978-0746312209 (paperback)

Journal Articles:

'Narrative unreliability and metarepresentation in Ian McEwan’s Atonement; or, why Robbie might be guilty and why nobody seems to notice', Textual Practice (full text available here)

‘Adaptation of a murder/murder as adaptation: The Parker-Hulme case in Angela Carter’s “The Christchurch Murder” and Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures’, Adaptation: The Journal of Literature on Screen Studies, 4:2 (2011), 167-179 (full text PDF available here)

‘Nicola Barker’s Darkmans and the “vengeful tsunami of history”’, Literary London, 7:2 (2009) (full text available here)

‘Life’s nasty habit: time, death and intertextuality in Beryl Bainbridge’s An Awfully Big Adventure’, Critical Engagements, 2:1 (2008), 85-110

Book Chapters:

‘Comedy’, in The Routledge Companion to Twenty-First Century Literary Fiction, ed. Robert Eaglestone (Routledge), forthcoming 2016

‘From the “other side”: Mimicry and Feminist Rewriting in the Novels of Beryl Bainbridge’, Identity and Form in Contemporary Literature, ed. Ana María Sánchez-Arce (New York: Routledge, 2014), pp. 89-105

‘Unlearning Empire: Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger’, in End of Empire and the English Novel since 1945, eds. Rachael Gilmour and Bill Schwarz (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011 [paperback, 2015]), pp. 152-165


B.S. Johnson and Post-War Literature: Possibilities of the Avant Garde, eds. Julia Jordan and Martin Ryle, Textual Practice, 29:6 (2015), 1203-07 (full text PDF available here)

Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial Studies by Graham MacPhee, Postcolonial Text, 8:1 (2013)

See also Huw Marsh's Queen Mary Research Publications profile


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