Katherine Baxter
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Personal profile

Research interests

My current research is funded by the British Academy Knowledge Frontiers scheme. This collaborative project, called Desert Disorders,  aims to recentre arid regions within a comparative, global perspective, using historical, literary and ethnographic methodologies to challenge presumptions of these spaces as perceived disorder. The project examines two case studies, Somaliland and the Thar Desert, through collaboration with Professor Deborah Sutton (Lancaster University) and Professor Farhana Ibrahim (IIT Delhi).

Desert Disorders emerges out of my longer-standing engagement with Law and Literary studies on the African continent. Exemplifying this research, my most recent monograph, Imagined States: Law and Literature in Nigeria (in the Edinburgh Critical Studies in Law, Literature and the Humanities series, 2019), examines representations of the law in British and Nigerian high-brow, middle-brow and popular fiction and journalism. Drawing on a range of examples, the book focuses on the imaginative role that the state of exception played in the application of indirect rule during British colonialism and in the legal machinations of the postcolonial state. It reads works by Chinua Achebe, Joyce Cary, Cyprian Ekwensi and Edgar Wallace, together with a range of Nigerian market literature and journalism.

I have also published widely in Conrad studies.  I have edited a variety of essay collections and special issues, most recently editing Conrad and Language with Professor Robert Hampson (EUP 2016; paperback 2017; awarded third prize for the Adam Gillon Book Award, 2018). I am co-editor of Conrad’s Plays for Cambridge University Press’s series, The Works of Joseph Conrad, with Professor Richard Hand (CUP forthcoming). This is an exciting project, which collects together for the first time all Conrad’s plays with The Book of Job, his only literary translation from Polish, and his film scenario, Gaspar The Strongman. My first monograph, Joseph Conrad and The Swan Song of Romance (Ashgate 2010), explores Conrad’s use of classical romance forms throughout his oeuvre and received ‘Honourable Mention’ for the Adam Gillon Book Award, 2012.

I am a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and act as an expert reviewer for a number of academic publishers and journals. Between 2016-2020 I was General Editor of English: The Journal of the English Association. I am a Fellow of the English Association.


Following my first degree in English and Hebrew, I was awarded my Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in July 2003. I then worked for several years in London both as a lecturer and as a cataloguer and curator at the British Library. In 2007 I was appointed as Research Assistant Professor in Cross-Cultural Studies in English at the University of Hong Kong. I then moved, in 2010, to the United States where I was a lecturer at Stanford University before joining Northumbria University in 2011. My work is characterized by my longstanding interest in cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship. Colonial and postcolonial literatures form the main focus of my research alongside an interest in legal theory and in literary multilingualism.

Education/Academic qualification

Literary Studies, PhD, University of Glasgow

30 Jun 200331 Dec 2099

Award Date: 30 Jun 2003

MA (Hons), English Literature and Classical Hebrew, University of Glasgow

Award Date: 30 Jun 1999


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