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Mr Matthew Lecznar

Post:Doctoral Tutor (English)
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Before beginning my PhD at Sussex in September 2015, I gained a BA in English and Related Literature from the University of York and a Master's degree in World Literatures in English from the University of Oxford.

My doctoral project, which is supervised by Dr. John Masterson, explores the artistic legacies of the Nigeria-Biafra war (1967-70) in different forms of textual, visual and performance culture. While Biafra is not widely commemorated in Nigeria today, it has had a remarkable cultural afterlife, with artists from a range of backgrounds responding to the conflict in their work. By placing literary sources in dialogue with different cultural responses to the war - in films, photographs, paintings and plays - I consider how the history of the Nigeria-Biafra war has been creatively re-mediated and remembered by artists since the conflict's close. I also investigate the residual significance of Biafra for modern day Nigeria, particularly with regard to issues of national identity, the politics of gender and sexuality, and international perceptions of the country.

During my doctoral studies I have completed a research fellowship at the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., and have conducted research at Iwalewa Haus, a centre for African contemporary arts based at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. I have also participated in the Institute for World Literature at Harvard University, and the Aké Arts and Book Festival in Abeokuta, Nigeria.

In April 2019 I completed a year-long editorial and administrative placement at the Wasafiri Magazine of International Contemporary Writing, and in July 2019 I became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.


Doctoral Researcher in the School of English, sponsored by CHASE/AHRC




2015-present   PhD in English (University of Sussex)

2013-2014       MSt in World Literatures in English (University of Oxford)

2010-2013       BA in English and Related Literature (University of York)



Conference and Seminar Presentations

"Mediating the metropolis: encounters with excess in recent Lagosian realism." African Studies Association UK, University of Birmingham, September 2018. 

"'Mirages are common here': oneiric mediations in artistic responses to the Nigeria-Biafra war." Art, Materiality and Representation, British Museum and SOAS, June 2018. 

"Weathering the storm: Ben Enwonwu's Biafrascapes and the crisis in the Nigerian postcolony." Positioning Nigerian Modernism, Tate Modern, September 2017.

"'We all stand before history': (Re)Locating Ken Saro-Wiwa in the Biafran War Canon." African Literature Association, Yale University, June 2017. 

"Reading (and listening) between the lines: Biafra and the arts of the Nsukka group." African Popular Cultures Workshop, University of Sussex, May 2017.

"The portrayal and legacy of the Nigerian Civil War in the creative arts." Public Research Presentation, National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., April 2017.

"Speculation at the Limits? Genre Mash-Up and the Problem of History in Nnedi Okorafor's Short Story 'Biafra'." African Studies Association UK, University of Cambridge, September 2016.

"'Let's start with the covers': Depicting Icons of Black Women, Fashioning Markets for African Women's Literature." Institute for World Literature, Harvard University, July 2016.

"Finding Faith: Transformative Encounters with Shabbiness and Religion in Noo Saro-Wiwa's Looking for Transwonderland." African Travel Writing Encounters, University of Birmingham, March 2016.

"Texts, Talks and Tailoring: Adichie and her Fashion Politics." Art & Action: The Intersections of Literary Celebrity and Politics, University of Oxford, March 2016. Listen here

"(Re)Fashioning Biafra: Identity, Authorship, and the Politics of Dress in Half of a Yellow Sun." Nigeria Research Day, University of Birmingham, June 2015.

Reviews and Interviews

Review of Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man by Chike Frankie Edozien, Team Angelica, 2017, and She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak, edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan and Rafeeat Aliyu, Cassava Republic, 2018.

Review of Happiness by Aminatta Forna, Bloomsbury, 2018, and Speak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie, Jacaranda, 2016.

Q&A with the writer Makena Onjerika, winner of the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing, July 2018.

Review of Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani, Saqi, 2018.

Event review - "Finding Fictions, Forging a Feminist Fantastic: Reflections on the 5th edition of the Aké Arts and Book Festival." Abeokuta, 14-18 November, 2017.

Review of A Companion to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Edited by Ernest N. Emenyonu, Boydell & Brewer, 2017.

Review of Writing the Nigeria-Biafra War. Edited by Toyin Falola and Ogechukwu Ezekwem, Boydell & Brewer, 2016.

Event review - "(Re)Viewing the Visual: Art, Photography, Film" - Reflections on the 5th African Popular Cultures Workshop at the University of Sussex, April 2016.

Q&A with the poet Toni Stuart for Africa in Words, May 2016.

Review of A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa. Translated by Daniel Hahn, Harvill Seckler, 2015.

Review of The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, Pushkin Press, 2015.

Conference and Seminar Organisation

"East African Literary Cultures" - 7th African Popular Cultures Workshop. Hosted by the School of English, the Centre for Creative and Critical Thought and the Sussex Africa Centre, University of Sussex, April 2018. (Convened with Dr. John Masterson and Laura Gallon)

"Biafra 50 years on" - 6th African Popular Cultures Workshop. Hosted by the School of English and the Sussex Africa Centre, University of Sussex, May 2017. (Convened with Dr. John Masterson)

English Graduate Seminar. Hosted by the School of English, University of Sussex, 2016-17. (Convened with Joe Upton)

"(Re)Viewing the Visual: Art, Photography, Film" - 5th African Popular Cultures Workshop. Hosted by the School of English and the Sussex Africa Centre, University of Sussex, April 2016. (Convened with Dr. John Masterson and Rehab Abdelghany)

Other Activities

Editorial and administrative placement at the Wasafiri Magazine of International Contemporary Writing. CHASE placement scheme, April 2018 - April 2019.

Guest at the 5th edition of the Aké Arts and Book Festival. Abeokuta, Nigeria, November 2017. Participated in Project Inspire!, a Book Buzz Foundation initiative where Aké Festival guests travel to local schools to talk about their work. (Funded by CHASE)

Smithsonian Fellow (International Placement Scheme) at the National Museum of African Art. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., January - April 2017. (Funded by the AHRC)

Editorial Assistant for the blog Africa in Words, May 2016 - January 2018.

Participant in the Institute for World Literature. Hosted by the Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, June - July 2016. (Funded by CHASE and the British Centre for Literary Translation)