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School of English and Drama

Dr Isabel Waidner

Isabel

Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing/Performance

Email: i.waidner@qmul.ac.uk
Website: https://linktr.ee/isabelwaidner

Profile

I am a writer based in London, with a specialism in interdisciplinary and innovative forms of creative writing at the intersection with queer and trans theory. I am the author of three novels: Sterling Karat Gold (2021), We Are Made of Diamond Stuff (2019) and Gaudy Bauble (2017). They were shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize (twice), and won the Internationale Literaturpreis in German translation. I am a co-founder of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Central London, and the programmer and presenter of This Isn’t a Dream, a fortnightly literary talk show, also hosted by the ICA via Instagram live. My creative and critical writing has been published in frieze, Granta and AQNB, among others. Before joining QMUL in 2021, I was a senior lecturer at Roehampton University.

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Research

Research Interests:

  • Interdisciplinary and innovative forms of creative writing
  • Queer and trans theory with an emphasis on intersectionality
  • Creative writing with performance and the visual arts
  • Creative-critical writing and practice-led research
  • Innovative fiction

Recent and On-Going Research

I write novels, creative-critical essays and plays, and I am committed to displacing formal distinctions and developing innovative, interdisciplinary and inclusive writing practices.

My most recent novel, Sterling Karat Gold, is a surreal inquiry into the real effects of state violence on gender-nonconforming, working-class and black bodies. Published in 2021 by Peninsula Press in the UK and forthcoming with Graywolf Press in the US in 2023, it develops the potential of performance—as staged in literary fiction—to advance progressive cultures, politics and modes of sociality. It takes inspiration from contemporary and historical performance practices such as Mojisola Adebayo’s Afriquia theatre, Kevin Killian’s Poet’s Theatre and contemporary queer DIY artists’ plays.

My previous novel, We Are Made of Diamond Stuff, is an innovative and critically British fiction, taking issue with the dream of national belonging. It was first published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe in 2019 and will be re-issued by Peninsula Press in 2022. Set on the Isle of Wight, it collides literary aesthetics with contemporary working-class cultures and attitudes (B.S. Johnson and Reebok classics), works with themes of empire, embodiment and resistance, and interrogates autobiographical material including the queer migrant experience.

I am also the editor of Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature (2018), which proposes an argument and methodology for the interdisciplinary, creative-critical, anti-racist, queer and trans liberation of contemporary creative writing.

A key aspect of my work has been my research into the performance of creative writing and how to do ‘readings’ differently. I am committed to collaborating and making connections with other writers, performers and audiences, and my work in the area of live literary events—most recently This Isn’t a Dream: Conversations with Writers and Queers Read This with the ICA—has been instrumental in establishing queer and trans writing as a medium which is helping to mobilise new communities in the UK and beyond in recent years.

Publications

Novels:

  • Sterling Karat Gold. UK: Peninsula Press, 2021; US: Graywolf Press, 2023.
  • We Are Made of Diamond Stuff. Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2019/Peninsula Press, 2022.
  • Gaudy Bauble. UK: Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017/Peninsula Press, 2022; Germany: Merve Verlag, 2020; Netherlands: Leesmagazijn, 2021.

Edited Volumes:

  • Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature. Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018.

Creative/Critical Writing, Plays, Short Fictions & Videos (Sample):

Academic articles:

Interviews:

Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in the areas of innovative and interdisciplinary writing, and creative writing at the intersections with cultural theory, performance, visual art and queer/trans theory.

Public Engagement

I am the curator and host of This Isn’t a Dream, a fortnightly literary talk show presented via the ICA’s Instagram live. I am also a co-founder of Queers Read This, a live reading series platforming interdisciplinary writing by LGBTQI+, working-class and black writers, poets, artists and performers. I’ve delivered public talks and keynote lectures at Dundee Contemporary Arts, Tate, Goldsmiths UoL, Oxford University, Cambridge University and King’s College, and I speak regularly at literary festivals and in bookshops including Humber Mouth, London Review Bookshop (with Irenosen Okojie), Burley Fisher and Pages of Hackney (with Maz Murray from The Right Lube). My work has been reviewed and discussed in the Guardian, frieze, New Statesman and the TLS, among many others, and I have recently been interviewed in the Observer.