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Sarah Brophy, Ph.D.

Professor of English and Cultural Studies

Phone: 905-525-9140 x.22243
Office: Chester New Hall 331

Areas of Interest

Auto/biography; contemporary fiction; cultural studies and visual culture; social media and digital self-portraiture; embodiment; race, disability, madness, gender, class, and sexuality; affect, intimacy, and cultural memory; post-slavery and Black diaspora studies; and British literature and culture since 1945.


Sarah Brophy is Professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.

She is the author of Witnessing AIDS: Writing, Testimony, and the Work of Mourning (University of Toronto Press, 2004) and of essays in venues such as The End of Empire and the English Novel Since 1945, Contemporary Women’s Writing, Literature and Medicine, and PMLA. Her international co-editorial projects include a forum on “Movement” in autobiographical practices across the Americas with Ricia Anne Chansky (in progress) and a special issue of Interventions on “Postcolonial Intimacies” with Phanuel Antwi, Helene Strauss and Y-Dang Troeung (2013). With Janice Hladki (Theatre and Film, McMaster), she co-curated two exhibitions for the McMaster Museum of Art and co-edited the interdisciplinary book, Embodied Politics in Visual Autobiography (University of Toronto Press 2014), which examines the cultural politics of health, disability, and the body in forms such as photography, video art, graphic memoir, film, body art and performance, and digital media.

Dr. Brophy’s current research has two strands. With the support of a SSHRC Insight Grant (2017-20), she is studying the emerging, often vexed relationship between digital self-portraiture and critical feminist, mad, and crip artists’ multi-platform projects. Her essay on digital labour and post-slavery memory in the selfies elicited by Kara Walker’s controversial installation “A Subtlety” (forthcoming in Cultural Critique, 2018) considers the problems and possibilities of art and social media convergences, and she is editing a special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography on embodiment that pays special attention to questions of mediation (forthcoming in 2018). The second major thread of her scholarship traces the forms of sociability, intimacy, cosmopolitan dreaming, and critical cultural memory generated in Britain since 1945 in Black, queer, working-class, and feminist literature and culture, and addresses authors including Pat Barker, Alan Hollinghurst, Adam Mars-Jones, Jackie Kay, Andrea Levy, Caryl Phillips, Zadie Smith, and Jeanette Winterson.

At McMaster, she has been recognized for outstanding teaching and mentoring work. In 2004, she won the McMaster Students Union (MSU) Teaching Award for the Faculty of Humanities and the MSU Merit Award for New Instructors, and in 2012, she won the President’s Award for Excellent in Graduate Supervision. In 2014, Dr. Brophy was named a Member of the College of New Scholars of the Royal Society of Canada. She is Associate Editor of the journal a/b: Auto/Biography Studies (2016-) and former Reviews Editor for Contemporary Women’s Writing (2014-17).

Dr. Brophy’s undergraduate courses have included Longer Genres; Modern British Literature; Concepts of Culture; Theories of Gender and Sexuality; Looking for Black Britain; and Reading the Bestseller: Contemporary British Fiction. Her graduate seminars are Selfie/Culture, Oh, Behave! Postwar Sexualities and Queer Historicisms and British Cultural Memory. She has supervised (or is supervising) graduate and undergraduate students’ work on a range of literary, cultural studies, critical theory, and women’s and gender studies topics such as: neoliberalism, race, and resistance in the contemporary British novel; fat and food politics; working-class shamelessness; intersections of queer theory and Marxism; trans and disability life writing; mad women’s writing, visual art, and online identities; digimodernism; transnational coming-of-age narratives; and “regeneration” in contemporary apocalyptic film and television.





Embodied Politics in Visual Autobiography.  Eds. Sarah Brophy and Janice Hladki. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014.  (







Witnessing AIDS: Writing, Testimony, and the Work of Mourning (Cultural Spaces Series, University of Toronto Press, 2004).  (





Journal Issues and Forums:

“Auto/biography and Movement Across the Americas: A Forum.” (60 pp.). Eds. Sarah Brophy and Ricia Anne Chanksy. (under review)

“Embodiment.” Special Issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. Ed. Sarah Brophy. Forthcoming, 2018.

“Pedagogy, Image Practices, and Contested Corporealities.” Special Issue of The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. Eds. Sarah Brophy and Janice Hladki. 34: 3-4 (July-October 2012): 71-211. [Republished as a book by Routledge, 2014]

“Postcolonial Intimacies.” Special Issue of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. Eds. Phanuel Antwi, Sarah Brophy, Helene Strauss, and Y-Dang Troeung. 15:1 (2013) 1-172.

Articles and Chapters (selected):

“Zadie Smith’s NW and the Gentrification of the Self.” 30 pp. (under review)

“The Stickiness of Instagram: Digital Labour and Post-Slavery Memory in Kara Walker’s ‘A Subtlety, or the Marvellous Sugar Baby.’” Forthcoming in Cultural Critique, 2018. 35 pp.

“’Going Home’ with The Lost Child: Caryl Phillips Revisits Yorkshire Noir.” Forthcoming in LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory, 2017. 30 pp.

“Paris–Boston–Berkeley–the Mexico/Texas Borderlands 1949–1990; or, Gender and Sexuality.” Eds. Sarah Blacker, Imre Szeman, and Justin Sully. A Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017: 91-113.

“Learning with The 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book in a Cultural Studies Course.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 32:1 (2017): 106-11.

“Innovations in Gay and Lesbian Fiction.” Equal co-author with Kasim Husain. The Cambridge Companion to British Fiction since 1945. Ed. David James. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 95-109.

“Cripping the Museum: Disability, Pedagogy, and a Video Art Exhibition.” Equal co-author with Janice Hladki.  In “Cripistemologies.” Special Issue of Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies. Eds. Robert McRuer and Merri Lisa Johnson.  8:3 (2014): 315-333.

“Queer histories and postcolonial intimacies in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty.” The End of Empire and the English Novel since 1945. Eds. Rachael Gilmour and Bill Schwarz. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2011. 184-201.

“Entangled Genealogies: White Femininity on the Threshold of Change in Andrea Levy’s Small Island.” Contemporary Women’s Writing 4:2 (2010): 100-113.

“Olaudah Equiano and the Concept of Culture.” Teaching Life-Writing Texts (MLA Options in Teaching).  Eds. Miriam Fuchs and Craig Howes. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008.  270-76.

“Troubled heroism: public health pedagogies in South African films about HIV/AIDS.” scrutiny2issues in english studies in southern Africa 13:1 (May 2008): 33-46.  Special Issue: South African Cultural Texts and the Global Mediascape. Eds. Patrick Flanery and Andrew van der Vlies.

“‘Compassionate Leave?’: HIV/AIDS and Collective Responsibility in Ingrid de Kok’s Terrestrial Things.” Equal co-author with Susan Spearey. Literature and Medicine 26: 2 (Fall 2007): 312-341.

“Working-Class Women, Labor, and the Problem of Community in Union Street and Liza’s England.” Critical Essays on Pat Barker. Eds. Sharon Monteith, Margaretta Jolly, Nahem Yousaf, and Ronald Paul. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2005.  24-39.

“Angels in Antigua: The Diasporic of Melancholy in Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother.”  PMLA 117:2 (March 2002): 265-277.

Artistic and Creative Work:

Brophy, Sarah and Janice Hladki, Co-Curators. “This is Me, This is Also Me.” Exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art. November 6, 2014-March 21, 2015.

Brophy, Sarah and Janice Hladki, Co-Curators. “Scrapes: Unruly Embodiments in Video Art.”  Exhibition, McMaster Museum of Art.  November 18, 2010 – January 22, 2011.


“Not Without Ambivalence: An Interview with Sara Ahmed on ‘Postcolonial Intimacies.’” Interviewed by Phanuel Antwi, Sarah Brophy, Helene Strauss, and Y-Dang Troeung [in person], McMaster University, Hamilton, March 3, 2011. In Special Issue of Interventions 15:1 (2013): 110-126.