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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Sarah Lohmann

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After completing my MA (Hons) in English literature and philosophy (first class) at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2011, I remained at St Andrews in order to complete both an MLitt degree in ‘Women, Writing and Gender’ in the English department (2012) as well as an MLitt degree in analytic philosophy in the philosophy department (2013). In my first master’s dissertation, supervised by Dr Sarah Dillon, I examined four-dimensionality in feminist utopian literature, while my second master’s dissertation, supervised by Professor Katherine Hawley, focused on the relationship between personal identity and utilitarian ethics.

My doctoral research, supervised by Professor Patricia Waugh and Professor Simon James, draws on philosophy as well as a range of other disciplines in order to make a case for the historical significance of a certain group of science-fictional feminist utopian novels of the second half of the 20th century, including Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, Joanna Russ’s The Female Man and Naomi Mitchison’s Memoirs of a Spacewoman. I argue that these novels present a ground-breaking form of utopianism that is informed by their presentation of utopian societies as self-organising and self-optimising; in particular, I argue that these societies, and the concept of utopia itself in these novels, can be read as examples of complex adaptive systems. So far, I have presented my work in progress at various international conferences, including the first international conference on alternate histories in Liverpool in 2015, the Utopian Studies Society (USS) conferences of 2015 in Newcastle (which I helped to organise) and 2016 in Lisbon, and the Society for Utopian Studies (SUS) conference 2016 in Pittsburgh.

During my time at Durham, I have also served as PhD student representative on the Staff Student Consultative Committee and the Board of Studies in the Department of English Studies, as editor of the Postgraduate English Journal, as research assistant for a project on New Town literature led by Dr John Nash, and as convenor of the Late Summer Lecture Series, besides teaching tutorials on the module ‘Introduction to the Novel’. This year, I have also earned a qualification as Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) and am working towards full fellowship, and I am serving as convenor of the seminar series ‘Inventions of the Text’, which presents fortnightly talks by inter-departmental and external speakers on the theme of English literature and interdisciplinarity. In addition, I am working alongside academic lead Professor Simon James and curatorial lead Emma Hamlett as the text-writing Project Officer for an upcoming exhibition on time travel and narrative, provisionally entitled ‘Time Machines’, that will be on display at Palace Green Library from May 2017 onwards.