In conversation: Professor Susheila Nasta MBE & Dr Helen Thomas #BHM2020

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In conversation: Professor Susheila Nasta MBE & Dr Helen Thomas – Black History Month Special Friday 30 October, 5pm – Online via Zoom

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Professor Susheila Nasta MBE and Dr Helen Thomas will discuss their long histories within the world of black writing and publishing.

The event will celebrate the publication of a free e-book: Black Agents Provocateurs - 250 Years of Black British Writing, History and the Law, 1770-2020 written by Helen Thomas and also the publication of the first Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing, edited by Susheila Nasta and Mark Stein.

They will discuss questions around:

• the politics of publishing and editing

• how they created their books

• shifting definitions of black British writing

• the importance of decolonising the school and university curricula

Professor Susheila Nasta MBE

I joined the department again at QMUL in 2017. Before that I held posts in several other university departments including Queen Mary from 1992-2000, Cambridge, the University of North London and the University of Portsmouth. I did my undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Kent, supervised by Lyn Innes and Louis James. I have always been interested in issues of cultural difference and diversity having grown up in India, Britain, Holland and Germany and taught in schools where I worked at growing a more inclusive literature curriculum before moving into university teaching in the 1980s. In 1984 I founded the Arts Council-funded literary magazine, Wasafiri: The Magazine of International Contemporary Writing, now housed at QMUL, funded by Arts Council England and co-published with Routledge.

I was given an MBE for my services to literature in 2011 and awarded the RSL Benson Medal for life-time’s contribution in 2019.

Dr Helen Thomas

Dr Helen Thomas was born in London, the daughter of a Sierra Leonean father and Irish mother. At school she was one of only 3 black pupils. She received her doctorate in C18th English Literature from Oxford University and has lectured in English at 5 universities across the UK. Her publications include Romanticism and Slave Narratives: Transatlantic Testimonies (Cambridge University Press, 2000), Caryl Phillips (2006) and the critical volume, Malady and Mortality: Illness, Disease and Death in Literary and Visual Culture (2016). She has also published chapters on black British theatre, women writing creole masculinity, breast cancer autopathographies and locked in syndrome. She has just published her latest monograph, Black Agents Provocateurs: 250 Years of Black British Writing, History and Law, 1770-2020 as a free ebook for Black History Month. She is currently co-editing a book on Genetic Histories and Liberties: Eugenics, Genetic Ancestries and Genetic Technologies in Literary and Visual Cultures (Edinburgh University Press: Gender and the Body Series, 2022) and has begun to write a novel focusing upon black lives of the C18th.

CONTACT DETAILS: Dr Helen Thomas -

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