School of English

photo of Denise Decaires Narain

Dr Denise Decaires Narain

Post:Reader in English (English)
Other posts:Senior Lecturer In English (Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence)
Location:ARTS B B268

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 877112
International:+44 1273 877112

Research expertise:
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Dr Denise deCaires Narain was born in Guyana and has lived and taught in the Caribbean. She has published widely on Caribbean women’s writing and is interested in and published essays on the work of Jamaica Kincaid, Erna Brodber, Olive Senior and Shani Mootoo. Her monograph, Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Poetry: Making Style (Routledge, 2001) is the first sustained study of Caribbean women’s poetry. She is currently researching the gendered implications of debates about orality, sexuality and popular culture in the Caribbean and in the ongoing contestation over the relevance of the categories ‘postcolonial’ and ‘queer’ within the region. Her monograph on the Jamaican short story writer, poet and cultural archivist, Olive Senior, is due out in Summer 2011 (Northcote House). It explores the distinctive Creole poetics in Senior’s work, her subversive use of “devious respectability” and the ambivalence of her representation of migration as a guarantee of upward social mobility. Denise has recently co-edited a special edition of the Journal of West Indian Literature with Evelyn O’Callaghan and Alison Donnell on ‘Shani Mootoo: Writing, Difference and the Caribbean’. She is completing an essay, ‘After Creolization and Before Queer: Reflections on Naming Desire Between Women in Caribbean Literature’ which suggests returning to and revising the Caribbean creolization paradigm, rather than privileging queer interpretive strategies. She is also working on a book-length study, Strange Intimacies: Representing the Servant in Postcolonial Women’s Texts, which explores how the maid/madam relationship figures in contemporary postcolonial women’s texts. Focused largely on the Caribbean, Africa, India and their diasporas, this study will interrogate the challenges and possibilities for feminisms that these relationships suggest and the hybrid literary forms which emerge in the process. Writers to be discussed include: Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Rhys, Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Shani Mootoo, Olive Senior, Zoe Wicomb, Marlene Van Niekerk, Ama Ata Aidoo, Assia Djebar, Amma Darko, Gcina Mhlophe, Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, Kamila Shamsie, Bapsi Sidhwa and Attia Hosein.

She has supervised DPhil theses on the following topics:

2000: Chinese American women’s writing and the politics of translation;

2002: African women and feminism;

2003: Literary writing in Mauritius;

2004: Migrant women’s writing;

2008: Deconstruction and the Ethics of Reading Postcolonial Texts;

2009: South African writing in the period of transition (MPhil);

I am currently supervising the following:

DPhil, ‘Transnational queer politics: A Comparative study of Anglophone and South African literature and culture’;

MPhil on the work of Isabelle Eberhardt (co-supervisor, Matt Dimmock).

In January this year her DPhil student (co-supervised with Prof Step Newell), Taraneh Borbor, successfully defended her thesis, ‘Towards a New Geographical Consciousness: a study of place in the novels of V. S. Naipaul and J. M. Coetzee.’

She has been external examiner for a range of DPhil theses including: Caribbean Women Writers; Mixed-Race Identities in Caribbean Literature; Middle-Eastern Women's Writing and Culture; Black British Women Poets and Performance Poetry; Creoleness and Orality in the Caribbean; the Representation of Madness in Contemporary Black Literature; Rushdie, Atwood and Postcolonial Feminism. She has taught at the University of the West Indies in Barbados and acted as external examiner for programmes there and at the University of Guyana. She was also external examiner at the University of North London.

Administrative Role

She was Sub-Dean of Student Affairs for 4 years and Director of Student Support for 3 years.