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Bloomsbury Studentship in Creative Writing 'Led by the Spirit'

Principal Supervisor: Julia Bell (Birkbeck College)

Co-Supervisor: Jörg Haustein (SOAS)

The project’s aims are to construct a body of fiction and reflective research addressing the multi-layered dialogue between African and African-Caribbean diasporic narratives in London; the focus will be primarily on the influence of Pentecostalism and the evolution of stories.

Using the current research interests of writer and Course Director of the MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, Julia Bell whose new novel, The Dark Light (Macmillan 2015) and work in progress – a memoir called Hymnal – address a childhood steeped in the Pentecostal tradition through the medium of fiction and poetry, and the research of Dr Jörg Haustein from SOAS whose work on Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa, and worldwide, offers a unique opportunity for a research student to develop work that is a genuine portrait of a little understood sub-culture of British religious activity.

Candidate requirements

The candidate should have an intrinsic interest to create a body of fictional literature centred around African and African-Carribean diasporic communities in London and to research their historical genesis. Ideally this would be based on previous biographical exposure to these communities. Applicants are advised to discuss their interest with the prospective supervisor Julia Bell before submitting an application.

The successful candidate will participate in the doctoral training programmes at Birkbeck (Creative Writing) and SOAS (Study of Religions). He or she would also benefit from SOAS courses on Pentecostalism in Africa and collaboration in the European Research Network on Global Pentecostalism (GloPent).

Key references

  • Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Pentecostalism, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013)
  • Michael Bergunder, et al., Studying Global Pentecostalism: Theories and Methods (Berkeley, University of California Press)
  • Ogbu Kalu, African Pentecostalism: An Introduction (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Kingsolver, Barbara, The Poisonwood Bible (Faber & Faber, 1998)

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal Supervisor: Julia Bell

Co-Supervisor:  Jörg Haustein

Further information about PhDs at Birkbeck is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:

English and Humanities Department:
PhD Supervisor: Julia Bell

Administrator: Anthony Shepherd
Postgraduate Research Administrator:
0203 073 8374

Please send a short - 5,000 word sample of your creative work in progress.

Closing dates for applications is 5pm Monday 16 February 2015