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Nadine Attewell, Ph.D.

Professor of English

Location: Chester New Hall, Room
Phone: 905 525 9140 ext. 24492

Areas of Interest

Twentieth- and twenty-first-century British literature and film; anglophone Asian and Asian diasporic literary and cultural production; colonial, postcolonial, and Indigenous literature and theory; feminist and queer studies; critical race studies; visual studies.


Nadine Attewell (PhD Cornell 2006; MA Cornell 2003; BA Honours U of Toronto 2000) joined the Department of English and Cultural Studies in 2009. A scholar of empire, identity, and intimate life, she works in and across a diverse set of fields that includes modernist studies; Asian and Asian diasporic studies; postcolonial studies; gender and sexuality studies; and social history. An Associate Editor of the journal Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, she is also a member of the Family Camera Network (, a SSHRC-funded partnership devoted to exploring the relationship between photography, migration, and the idea of the family; and of the Institute for Transpacific Cultural Research at Simon Fraser University (

Dr. Attewell’s first book, Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire (University of Toronto Press, 2014), investigated the centrality of reproduction to postimperial projects of governance and nation-building through readings of twentieth-century literature and policy from Australia, Britain, and New Zealand, and was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2014. Entitled Archives of Intimacy: Racial Mixing and Asian Lives in the Colonial Port City, Dr. Attewell’s current SSHRC-funded book project enquires into the early-twentieth-century history of racial mixing in British-controlled sites of Chinese settlement, including Hong Kong, London, and Liverpool. Through readings of fiction, non-fiction prose, life-writing, photography and state and other institutional records, she seeks to understand how multiraciality is experienced and represented in the volatile spaces of the colonial port city: where, how, and with whom do mixed-race Asian subjects seek community in contexts where power, space, jobs, and other goods are distributed along differentiated (and differentiating) lines? Animating the project is an interest in how and to what ends multiracial pasts get remembered. Reflecting on the colonial archive of interracial intimacy as a repository of traces that elaborate distinctly local as well as transoceanic geographies of attachment, the book meditates on the kinds of reading practices it requires and incites, with consequences for our identity projects in the present.

At McMaster, Dr. Attewell teaches undergraduate courses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century British literature and film; feminist and queer theory; postcolonial literature and theory; modernisms; and the archive. She offers graduate seminars on modernism; labour, race, and migration in the early-twentieth-century transatlantic imaginary; and the politics of reproduction. She welcomes graduate students working in the areas of twentieth-century British literary and cultural production; anglophone Asian (diasporic) literary and cultural studies; modernisms; postcolonial and Indigenous literary and cultural studies; and feminist and queer studies.






Better Britons: Reproduction, National Identity, and the Afterlife of Empire. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2014.







Refereed Journal Articles and Book Chapters:

“Not the Asian You Had in Mind: Race, Precarity, and Academic Labor.” English Language Notes 54.2 (Fall/Winter 2016): 183-190.

Equal co-author with Janice Chiew Ling Ho. “In/Security in Our Times.” English Language Notes 5.2 (Fall/Winter 2016): 1-11.

“Loving Revolutions: Reading Mixed Race at Mid-Century.” Around 1945: Literature, Citizenship, Rights. Ed. Allan Hepburn. Montreal: McGill University Press, 2016. 216-239.

“The Return of the Native: Indigeneity, White Supremacy, and the Struggle for Britain.” TOPIA:

Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 35 (Winter 2016): 173-197.

Equal co-author with S. Trimble. “The Work of Return.” TOPIA 35 (Winter 2016): 7-25.

“‘For Karnak 1923/From London 1942’: Approaching War in H. D.’s The Walls Do Not Fall.”

Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 34.2 (Fall 2015): 1-27.

“Reading Closely: Writing (and) Family History in Kim Scott’s Benang.” Postcolonial Text 7.3 (Fall 2012): n.p.

“No Alternative? Robin Hyde and the Politics of Loss.” Lighted Windows: Critical Essays on Robin Hyde. Ed. Mary Edmond-Paul. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2008. 53-66.

“‘Bouncy little tunes’: Nostalgia, Sentimentality, and Narrative in Gravity’s Rainbow.” Contemporary Literature 45.1 (2004): 22-48.

“A Risky Business: Going Out in the Fiction of Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Richardson.” The Swarming Streets: Twentieth Century Literary Representations of London. Ed. Lawrence Phillips. Rodopi, 2004. 7-18.

Special Journal Issues:

In/Security. Guest editor, with Janice Chiew Ling Ho. English Language Notes 54.2 (Fall/Winter 2016).

The Work of Return. Guest editor, with S. Trimble. TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 35 (Winter 2016).