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Professor Carl Plasa

BA (Oxon); MA, PhD (Southampton)


School of English, Communication and Philosophy

+44 (0)29 2087 5013
2.13, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am part of the School's English Literature and Critical and Cultural Theory research groups. 

I have written numerous essays and articles on British, American, Caribbean and African American Literature, as well as three monographs: Slaves to Sweetness: British and Caribbean Literatures of Sugar (Liverpool UP, 2009); Charlotte Brontë (Palgrave, 2004); and Textual Politics from Slavery to Postcolonialism: Race and Identification (Macmillan, 2000). I have also completed a further monograph titled Literature, Art and Slavery: Ekphrastic Visions, to be published by Edinburgh University Press in its “Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures” series in 2023. Please see under 'Research' for more details.

My current (fledgling) project is a book exploring intertextual responses to and rewritings of the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as they occur in a range of English, American and African American literary works produced in the felicitously rounded one-hundred-year period from 1837 to 1937.



I am currently a Professor of English Literature at Cardiff, having worked previously at the Universities of Manchester and Cork.











  • Plasa, C. 2010. Saccharographies. In: Emig, R. and Lindner, O. eds. Commodifying (Post)Colonialism: Othering, Reification, Commodification and the New Literatures and Cultures in English. Cross/cultures Vol. 127. Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 41-61.















My current teaching portfolio includes first-year lectures on Transforming Visions: Text and Image, together with a second-year module on African American literature from Frederick Douglass to Toni Morrison. I also teach an MA option titled Postcolonial Brontë.

I have recently completed a monograph called Literature, Art and Slavery: Ekphrastic Visions for publication by Edinburgh University Press as part of its “Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures” series in 2023.

Since around 2000, there has been a noticeable upsurge in critical work on the visual archive of Atlantic slavery, resulting in a host of important studies. While most of these contributions are weighted towards images created during the era of slavery itself, some critics have adopted a more historically far-reaching approach, exploring the ways in which such images live on beyond the original context of their production, circulation and consumption, returning imaginatively in different forms at different times and in different places. This book shares the fascination with the afterlives which such visual materials have enjoyed, but places the accent on how that posterity has evolved in the realms of literature, especially poetry. The book’s specific focus is on the ekphrastic transactions between texts written between the mid-1990s and 2020 and images of slavery that belong (with one exception) to British and American traditions and were produced between c. 1779 and 1939.

Additional publications include: 

“Charlotte Brontë’s Mythic Figures: Prometheus and Medusa in ‘The Death of Napoleon,’ The Professor and Jane Eyre,” in Edinburgh Companion to the Brontës and the Arts, ed. Deborah Wynne and Amber Regis (completed September 2020; publication 2022 or early 2023).

Please see "Publications" for a fuller list of published works.

Research interests

  • Literary and visual representations of slavery
  • African American literature 
  • Caribbean literature
  • Ekphrasis
  • Victorian literature (especially Alfred, Lord Tennyson)


I would welcome applications from students working in any of my main research areas:

  • Literary and visual representations of slavery
  • Ekphrasis from 1800 onwards
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • African American literature 
  • Charlotte Brontë


    Past projects

    I am currently supervising the following doctoral students:

    Morgan Lee, researching spectrality in Tennyson's poetry, with particular reference to forms of literary and cultural memory;

    Joanne Rush (co-supervision with Gerard Woodward at Bath Spa University): “(Re)constructing Historical Paintings: an exploration of the affective possibilities and veridical implications of notional portraiture in neo-historical fiction” (AHRC-funded Creative Writing thesis).

    I have supervised the successful completion of some fourteen PhDs to date, across a wide array of topics ranging from the Harlem Renaissance to Richard Wright and from Dickens and empire to Wordsworthian legacies in Victorian poetry. Details are given below:

    2016: Caleb Sivyer, “The Politics of Gender and the Visual in Virginia Woolf and Angela Carter” (finishing supervisor)

    2014: Jayne Thomas, “From Allusion to Intertext: Reading Wordsworth in Tennyson, Browning and Hopkins”

    2014: Mohamed Maaloum, “The Loss of the Referent: Identity and Fragmentation in Richard Wright’s Fiction”

    2013: Phillip Roberts, “Cinema and Control” (finishing supervisor)

    2013: Theresa Wray, “A Reappraisal of the Short Stories of Mary Lavin” (finishing supervisor)

    2011: Anthony Austin, “‘The Great Dread of Our Age’: Reading Alzheimer’s and the Gothic”

    2009: Renée Chow, “Postcolonial Hauntologies: Creole Identity in Jean Rhys, Patrick Chamoiseau and David Dabydeen”

    2008: Jodie Matthews, “Reading the Victorian Gypsy”

    2004: Dale Duddridge, “‘Ein Anderer Schauplatz’: Theatrical Visions in Freudian Psychoanalysis”

    2002: Sean Purchase, “Dickens’s Silent Empire”

    2001: Adam Woodruff, “Walter Benjamin and Modernism: Towards a Poetics of Urban Representation”

    1999: Tiffany Atkinson (currently Professor of Creative Writing, University of East Anglia), “The Dissenting Flesh: Corporeality, Representation and Theory”

    1998: Simon Lee-Price, “Racial Hybridity and the Harlem Renaissance: History, Literature, Theory”

    1996: Alan Grossman, “‘Things Welsh’: Identities on the March(es)”