This conference has been organised by a group of PhD students at the Universities of Oxford and York. Working broadly within the field of twentieth-century literature, but with firm interdisciplinary remits, they have brought together their interests in performance, the body, and the historical contexts of the wartime and postwar periods to create this event. Their individual biographies are below.

If you would like to get in touch with us, please email:

Hannah Simpson

Hannah is an AHRC-funded DPhil candidate in English Literature at St. Cross College, University of Oxford. Her dissertation explores the presentation of physical pain in post-WWII Francophone theatre, with a focus on the work of Samuel Beckett. She has published journal articles on Samuel Beckett, W. B. Yeats, William Shakespeare, and Wallace Stevens in Comparative Drama, Warwick ExchangesEtudes Irlandaises and the Journal of Modern Literature, and forthcoming in The Wallace Stevens Journal and Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui. She also has forthcoming chapters in the edited volumes Samuel Beckett and Pop Culture and Beckett: Beyond the Normal. She is the Theatre Review Editor for Beckett Circle.

Megan Girdwood

Megan is a PhD student in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York. Her research explores incarnations of the figure of Salome in modernist theatre, dance performance, and silent film after 1896. She has published an article on cinematic depictions of sacrifice in the Journal of Religion and Film, and has reviewed for the Irish Studies Review. Her writing on film has also appeared in The London Magazine and Paste Magazine. Recently, she participated in a panel on ‘Queer Modernism’ for the newly established Modernist Podcast. Her work is funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities.

Mugshot1 (1)
Patrick Burley

Patrick is a doctoral student working in the fields of late modernism and experimental fiction at the University of Oxford. His thesis considers strategies of social criticism among the British postwar avant-garde, with a particular focus on the work of Ann Quin, B.S. Johnson, Christine Brooke-Rose and J.G. Ballard. His research is supported by the University College Senior Studentship, in conjunction with the AHRC.

Melissa Purkiss

Melissa is a doctoral student in the Modern Language Faculty at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on first-wave Russian émigré writing of the interwar and postwar periods, with a particular focus on Gaito Gazdanov. Her thesis considers the intersection of French and Russian influences in Gazdanov’s writing, and is funded by the AHRC via CEELBAS. Her article on ‘Untranslatables’ in Marina Tsvetaeva’s lyric poem Krysolov won the 2017 Forum Prize, and is forthcoming in Forum for Modern Language Studies.