Zoe Brigley Thompson

Assistant Professor, Department of English

Zoe Brigley Thompson is an academic and creative writer. She is the author of two books of poetry: Conquest (Bloodaxe, 2012); and The Secret (Bloodaxe, 2007). She is also the editor of the academic volume Feminism, Literature, and Rape Narratives (with Sorcha Gunne), and the poetry anthology Bluebeard’s Wives (with Julie Boden). She is currently co-editing (with Matthew Jarvis) a guide to contemporary poetry in the UK and Ireland. Her poems and articles appear in Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Review, The Chicago Review, Australian Book Review, PN Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Poetry Wales, and elsewhere.


She is a member of two major international, collaborative research projects funded by the Spanish Ministry, "Globalized Cultural Markets" and "Bodies in Transit.” She has received fellowships from the British Society of Authors, the Welsh Academy, the English Association, and the Humanities Research Centre. She won an Eric Gregory Award for the best British poets under 30, and was listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize for the best international writers under 35. 


Her current monograph project, Beyond the Symbolic Rape is a collection of essays that challenges the cultural use of symbolic rape: an act of sexual violence inserted into a story that has symbolic or allegorical significance. Such use of rape in a narrative can be exploitative because it takes an act of intimate violence and uses it for political, rhetorical, or symbolic means. The essays consider how cultural, literary and filmic texts work for or against this tendency, arguing that more complex, poetic narratives foreground sexual violence as an embodied act perpetrated by individuals and by institutions.


She is also currently working on a her third collection of poetry Hand and Skull, which mingles personal experiences of violence with tellings based on the testimonies of real women, as well as women from myth like Leda and Syrinx. There are letters from fictional women, like Tess Durbeyfield, or Edna Pontellier, the self-destructive heroine of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, as well as Welsh poet Alun Lewis, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Skulls feature throughout the collection – those from O’Keeffe’s paintings; from a childhood living near farming mountain country; and the skull as a metaphor for a particular kind of overwhelming and bleak sublime. The hands of the collection might be healing or harmful, but they represent the pull of the outside world. 


Recent peer reviewed publications include:

—The Journal of Gender Studies: ‘Happiness (or Not) After Rape:  Hysterics and Harpies in the Media versus Killjoys in Black Women’s Fiction’;

—Feminist Formations: ‘Beyond Symbolic Rape: The Insidious Trauma of Conquest in Marguerite Duras’s The Lover and Eileen Chang’s “Lust, Caution”’;

—Contemporary Women’s Writing: ‘Breaking the Bonds of Domination: Subverting the rape script in short stories by Isabel Allende and Rosario Castellanos’ (with Sorcha Gunne);

—and Orbis Litterarum: ‘The Death and Life of Language: a Kristevan Reading of the Poetry of Gwyneth Lewis in Wales and Medbh McGuckian in Northern Ireland.’


Recent book chapters include:

—‘Écriture Féminine’ in The Edinburgh Companion to Poststructuralism;

—‘Still Devouring Kahlo: Reading Beyond Psychobiography’ in Narratives of Difference;

—‘Displacing and Redefining Trauma: Pascale Petit’s Deer, Birds and Butterflies’ in Devolutionary Readings;

—and 'Rape and the Mystery of the Femme Fatale: Gender Politics in the new Noir Detective Story' in Rape in Anglophone and Scandinavian Crime Fiction.


Areas of Expertise
  • 20th-Century British & American Literature
  • Creative Writing - Fiction
  • Creative Writing - Non-fiction
  • Creative Writing - Poetry
  • Critical Theory
  • Gender & Sexuality Studies
  • Popular Culture
  • Postcolonial Literature & Culture
  • BA, English Literature and Creative Writing, University of Warwick
  • MA, Gender and Literature, University of Warwick
  • PhD, English & Comparative Literature, University of Warwick

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