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Department of English Studies

Academic Staff

Dr James Smith

Contact Dr James Smith (email at

Most recently, my research has been interested in questions concerning state surveillance, censorship, and subsidy of literature and culture. My most recent book, British Writers and MI5 Surveillance, 1930-1960, looked at the MI5 records held on key figures such as Auden, Spender, Koestler, Orwell, and others, and tried to show how many of these authors were not passive victims of the secret state but also conscious movers within it. (Here are some of the reviews freely available online: Guardian, New Statesman, TLS, Lobster, Northern Review of Books, and the THES).

I have also published shorter pieces in this area, such as on governmental involvement in film and theatre censorship, security monitoring of radical literary magazines, and (with David Bradshaw) the collaboration between Ezra Pound and the fascist propagandist James Strachey Barnes. This research feeds into the design of my undergraduate module, 'Modern Literature and the British Secret State', and I would be particularly interested in hearing from prospective postgraduate students wanting to develop research projects in this field.

I also teach and research in the field of modern drama, offering a MA module on post-war British drama and having edited (with Richard Fotheringham) a collection of essays on contemporary Australian theatre which has just been published. Finally, I have interests in critical theory, with my first book on Terry Eagleton published in 2008 (the full text of a review can be found here).

Selected Publications

Books: authored

Books: edited

  • Fotheringham, Richard & Smith, James (2013). Catching Australian Theatre in the 2000s. Australian Playwrights. Rodopi.

Essays in edited volumes

Journal papers: academic

Show all publications