Dr Georgina Colby

Dr Georgina Colby

I am a Reader in Modern and Contemporary Literature in the School of Humanities.

Prior to joining the University of Westminster, I was a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London for a number of years. I also taught at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. I hold a BA, MA, and PhD in English from Royal Holloway, University of London.

From 2016-2021, I was the Course Leader for the MA English Literature: Modern and Contemporary Fictions.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

The majority of my work focuses on avant-garde writing, with a particular emphasis on modern and contemporary feminist writing, and the politics of avant-garde textual practice. I have recently edited a collection of essays titled Reading Experimental Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). I am founder and the Series Editor of two series published by Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh Critical Studies in Avant-Garde Writing, and Edinburgh Foundations in Avant-Garde Writing (both co-edited with Dr Eric White).

My current research interests concern the relation between literary experiment, representation and social justice.The relation between experiment with form and language and voicing contemporary socio-political concerns underpins my current monograph in progress, Forms of Solidarity: Feminist Avant-Garde Writing in the Twenty-First Century.  The book addresses the relations between avant-garde women's writing, political solidarity and feminist activisms in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

In 2018 I was awarded a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant for the project Feminist Representations: Sexual Violence Against Women, Asylum and Testimony (ongoing). The project aims to explore the contribution the arts and humanities may make to address institutional failures in the area of sexual violence against women and girls, with a specific focus asylum, translation, voice and testimony. I am currently working on a collection of essays related to this project.

I am also interested in the way in which examining the archives of avant-garde writers can inform an understanding of the process of innovation and experimental composition. These research interests underpin my monograph, Kathy Acker: Writing the Impossible (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), which positions Acker as a key figure in the American avant-garde, and a pioneer of contemporary experimental writing. Through archival research I trace the stages in Acker's writing from her early poetic exercises written in the 1970s to her final writings in 1997. Each chapter focuses on a particular compositional method and insists on the importance of avant-garde experiment to the process of making new modes of meaning through formal innovation. More information on my archival research at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University can be found here

I have a particualr interest in the publishing practices and literary politics of small presses, specifically the way in which these intersect with avant-garde aesthetics. With Leigh Wilson (PI), I am co-investigator of the Arts Council funded project The Contemporary Small Press. We recently published a volume related to this project titled The Contemporary Small Press: Making Publishing Visible (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2020).

I am the Founder and Director of  S A L O N, a site for reading and responding to the present through experimental women's writing, which was established at Westminster in 2016. A collaboration with Susan Rudy, S A L O N is hosted by the Institute of Modern and Contemporary Culture at the University of Westminster, and Queen Mary.

I am the Reviews Editor for New Formations: A Journal of Culture/Theory/Politics.

Research Grants

2018 BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (£9,753), 'Feminist Representations: Sexual Violence Against Women, Asylum and Testimony.'

2015 Arts Council England Grant. The Contemporary Small Press (co-investigator).

2014 Mary Lily Grant, David M Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University. I was awarded a Mary Lily Grant of $1000 by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture at Duke University to consult the Kathy Acker Papers housed at the Duke University.

2012 Arts Council England Grant. ‘Death and the Contemporary’ (£7, 525).



Reading Experimental Writing (ed.) (Edinburgh University Press, 2020)

The Contemporary Small Press: Making Publishing Visible (ed. with Kaja Marczewska and Leigh Wilson) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).

Kathy Acker: Writing the Impossible (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2016; paperback, 2018)

Journal Special Issues

Death and the Contemporary, a themed double issue of New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, and Politics, 89-90, 2017.

Journal Articles

'Feminist Solidarity and Experiment in Kathy Acker's Early Writings'. Journal of Narrative Theory, 48 (3); 2018; pp 290-313.

'Forms of Solidarity'. Jacket 2, April, 2018.

'Imaginary Intimacies: Death and New Temporalities in the work of Denise Riley and Nicholas Royle. Death and the Contemporary, New Formations: A journal of Culture, Theory and Politics, 89/90, 2017; pp. 170-192.

'Engaged Disengagement: Reframing as Feminist Critique in Vanessa Place's Tragodía'. Textual Practice, 31 (4), 2017; pp 707-723.

'The Reappropriation of Classical Mythology to Represent Pain: Falling Silent in the work of Kathy Acker and Robert Mapplethorpe.' Comparative Critical Studies, 9.1, 2012, pp 7-35.

'Radical Interiors: Kathy Acker's My Mother: Demonology and Cindy Sherman's 'Sex Series''. Women: A Cultural Review, 23 (2), 2012, pp. 182-200.

'Repressive Desublimation and the Great Refusal in Bret Easton Ellis's Fiction'. Textual Practice, 6 (2), 2011, pp. 319-345.

'Spaces in difference: Laura Parnes' Blood and Guts in High School', n.paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal, 19, 2007, pp 73-80.

Book Chapters

'The Small Press, Avant-Garde Aesthetics, and the Politics of Disidentification'. Colby, G., Marczewska, K., Wilson, L. (eds), The Contemporary Small Press: Making Publishing Visible (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming 2020).

'Experimental Inscription and the Archive: Kathy Acker's Manuscript Practice.' Reading Experimental Writing (Edinburgh University Press, 2019).

'Kathy Acker', in Kaye Mitchell (ed), The Edinburgh Companion to Experimental Women's Writing. In progress.

'Contemporary Artists and the Camera'; 'Performance and Participation'; 'Bodies Politic'; and 'Advertising' in Photography: The Whole Story (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012).

Media Articles and Reviews

'Strategic Vulnerability: Our Growing Recognition of Kathy Acker', The Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 2017; pp 3-4.

‘Sexual Violence Against Women and Credibility.’ Women’s Asylum News, 136, June/July, 2016, pp. 6-7.

‘Profiles in Research: Georgina Colby and the Kathy Acker Papers.’ Women at the Center. Newsletter, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, Duke University, Issue 27, Spring 2015.

'Unfamiliar Crossings'. A review of Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson's Transatlantic Women's Literature. Contemporary Literature, 51 (2), Summer 2010, pp. 438-448.


'The Spice Girls Meet Kathy Acker', Unpopped BBC Podcast, 26 February, 2018. Guest interviewee.

'Kathy Acker's Guts', Freedom, Books, Flowers and the Moon, TLS podcast, October 26th, 2017. Guest interviewee.

BBC World Service World Business Report, 'The Future of Book Publishing'. 13th April, 2016. Guest interviewee. 

Creative Writing (as editor)

OUTLines: Writing from the Small Press [ed.] (Oystercatcher Press, 2015)

  • Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture
  • Literary Studies

In brief

Research areas

Avant-garde writing, feminisms, modern and contemporary fiction