Dr Emma West

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Birmingham


Research Interests

Emma is a literary and cultural historian specialising in intersections between modernism and popular culture. Her research interests in the field of print culture include modern periodicals, from standard illustrated popular magazines like The Strand and The Royal to ‘little’ modernist magazines, as well as fashion magazines and art/graphic design journals; interwar graphic design, especially travel posters; and interwar illustration and book design, especially the work of female engravers such as Dorothea Braby, Gwen Raverat and Clare Leighton. 

Emma’s current project, Revolutionary Red Tape: How state bureaucracy shaped British modernism, aims to explore how publicly- and privately-funded arts organisations helped to commission, promote and popularise modernist art, literature and culture in Britain. As part of this project, Emma will explore the Books Across the Sea scheme using the Beatrice Warde Collection at the University of Birmingham. 



Book Chapters  

  • ‘Cover Stars and Covert Addresses: Strategies for Reading Magazines Across the “Great Divide”’, in Matthias Somers and Bram Lambrecht (eds.), Writing Literary History (forthcoming) 
  • ‘Surrealist? Modernist? Artist? - The Vicissitudes of Elsa Schiaparelli’, in Patricia Allmer (ed.), Intersections - Women Artists/Surrealism/Modernism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), 275-295.
  • ‘“hap-hap-hap-hap-happy clothes”: Avant-Garde Experiments in/with Material(s)’, in Sasha Bru et al., The Aesthetics of Matter: Modernism, the Avant-garde and Material Exchange (Berlin: De Grutyer, 2013), 67-81.

Journal articles

  • ‘“Betwixt and Between”: Towards a (N)ontology of the Mediocre’, Word and Text, 3.1 (2013), 12-24.
  • ‘A Modern(ist) Mode: Fashion, 1910 and the Limits of Modernism’, Word and Text, 1.2 (2011), 65-78.


  • ‘Modernism, Middlebrow and the Literary Canon: The Modern Library Series, 1917–1955 by Lise Jaillant (review)’, Modernism/Modernity, 22.2 (April 2015), 415-416.