Sarah Bowskill


  • Room 02.002 - 9 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be delighted to hear from students interested in pursuing doctoral research in the following areas:

Mexican literature and culture

Cultural production from/about the Mexico/US border

Latin American women's writing

The politics and aesthetics of cultural institutions as they relate to Latin America e.g film festivals, book fairs, publishing houses, galleries etc.

Latin American multimedia cultural production


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


Research and Teaching Interests

  • Literature and Politics
  • Literature in Society
  • Latin American Cultural Studies
  • Twentieth-Century and contemporary Latin American Literature with an emphasis on Mexico
  • Mexican Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Literature and Culture of the Mexico-US borderlands
  • Canon formation
  • Reception studies
  • Sociology of literature
  • Literary culture in the Hispanic World
  • Prizes and cultural festivals in the Hispanic World

Research Statement

My research explores the social and political functions of literature with reference to Latin American fiction and gender.

I ask what roles literature has in society and investigate and interrogate the institutions and practices which underpin the ways in which literature circulates.


Current Research - Pushing the Boundaries – Literary Innovation and Political Intervention in Latin America

This project studies the ways in which literary texts broadly defined have attempted to intervene in politics.

It explores the ways in which authors and artists are crossing boundaries in order to reach new audiences, find new ways to convey their message and in so doing are challenging traditional conceptions of literature. Working with Dr Jane Lavery (Southampton) I have explored the multimedia interventions of Guatemalan performance artist, poet and blogger Regina José Galindo (2012) and Chilean poet, artist, performer and activist Eli Neira and we are currently preparing an edited volume on The Multimedia Works of Contemporary Spanish American Women Writers and Artists (under contract).

The project also takes fiction produced in Spanish, English and French about the feminicides in Ciudad Juárez as a case study to ask what the political impact of such texts might be.


Literature, Nation-Building and Canon Formation in 20th Century Mexico

For this project I explored the ways in which literary canon formation was tied to processes of nation building in post-revolutionary Mexico and tried to uncover alternative voices which had been lost as a result focusing particularly on the experience of women and women authors.

This work led to the publication of a monograph Gender, Nation and the Formation of the Twentieth-Century Mexican Literary Canon (2011) in which I explored the ways in which literature in post-revolutionary Mexico was used to negotiate who was and who was not part of the nation. I showed how the literary canon consistently worked to reinforce official discourses whilst excluding dissenting voices and marginalising women.

In ‘Towards a Broader Definition of the Novel of the Mexican Revolution’ (2013) I drew attention to the new voices and perspectives on the revolution which would emerge if we expanded our understanding of the novel of the Mexican Revolution to includes those texts which did not fit in with official narratives.

In my article (2015) on the group known as the Ocho poetas mexicanos (which included Rosario Castellanos in their number) I showed how they were marginalised in post-revolutionary literary circles and remain largely forgotten by literary history because they were dismissed as Catholic authors by a literary establishment which favoured nation-building literature at a time when Catholicism was excluded from official constructions of nationhood. I highlight the contributions group members made to mid-century literary culture and propose they are best understood with reference to the “universal” strand of Mexican literature and as heirs to groups such as the Contemporáneos.


Institutions, Criticism and the Circulation of Literature  

This project investigates the institutions and practices which underpin the ways in which literature functions and circulates in society.

Using the Spanish Premio Cervantes award for literature in Spanish as a case study I studied the way in which literary prizes could conceal political agendas. By studying the media reports surrounding the Latin American recipients of the Premio Cervantes I showed how the prize was used to negotiate relationships and as a space for dialogue between Spain and Latin America.

In ‘The origins of the Mexican Boom Femenino’ I analyse the ways in which criticism responded to and therefore affected the reception of women authors who came to the fore in Mexico in the 1980s. Building on work in my monograph which used book reviews published in newspapers to show how critics were able to shape the way readers received texts, I focus on the reception of work by Ángeles Mastretta and Laura Esquivel and argue that the gender of the authors was a significant factor in their critical reception.



I currently teach on the following modules

  • Introduction to Latin American Studies
  • Hispanic Studies (Spanish language)
  • Issues and Culture of the Mexico US Border
  • Representations of the Mexican Revolution in Literature, Art and Film
  • Failed Romances of Latin American Literature
  • Canons and Culture Wars: The Battle for Latin American Literature (Masters level)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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