Hannah Boast

Chancellor's Fellow

  • English Literature
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details

Availability

  • Office hour Thursday 1-2. Please email in advance. In Week 12, my office hour will be on Thursday from 5-6.

Background

I joined University of Edinburgh as Chancellor's Fellow in June 2023. I was previously Lecturer/Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow at University College Dublin, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at University of Warwick, and Teaching Fellow in Contemporary and Postcolonial Literature at University of Birmingham. I have also taught at University of York. In 2022, I held a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science short-term fellowship at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo.

I work in the Environmental Humanities. The primary focus of my research is water in modern and contemporary world literature. I am interested in literary and cultural representations of water crisis and drought; water infrastructure, technology and the state, especially dams, reservoirs, and hydroelectricity; water justice; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); aquatic animals; and alternative hydro-social futures. My second main interest is environmental politics in Palestinian and Israeli literature and culture, including water, waste, animals, food, agriculture, and the environmental impacts of war and occupation. I also write on feminist theory and politics for an academic and popular audience, in relation to topics including urban planning, militarism, and technoscience. My work is influenced by my background in Geography, particularly political ecology.

My research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the British Academy-Royal Irish Academy Knowledge Frontiers programme, the White Rose Universities Consortium, and competitive internal funding schemes at UCD and University of York.

Qualifications

PhD English and Related Literatures, University of York. Co-supervised in Geography, University of Sheffield. Funded by White Rose Universities Consortium

MA Cultures of Empire, Resistance and Postcoloniality, English and Related Literatures, University of York

BA (Jt Hons) English Studies and Philosophy, University of Nottingham

Responsibilities & affiliations

Associate Editor, Environmental Humanities journal

Co-Convenor, Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network (EEHN)

Affiliate, Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI)

Affiliate, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH)

Member, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment UK and Ireland (ASLE-UKI)

Undergraduate teaching

In 2024/25 I will be convening the honours module Water and World Literature, teaching on Reading Theory and supervising undergraduate dissertations.

Postgraduate teaching

In 2024/25 I will be teaching on the Comparative Literature core course and supervising MSc dissertations.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome PhD proposals in my areas of interest, which include world and postcolonial literature, Environmental Humanities, Palestinian and Israeli literatures, critical animal studies. Within Environmental Humanities, I am most interested in projects that take a world-ecology, world-systems or eco-Marxist perspective, and/or engage with postcolonial or world literature. I am also interested in supervising projects in the intersection between literary studies and cultural geography.

Past PhD students supervised

Deborah Schrijvers (UCD)  'Decolonizing Extinction: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Species in Contemporary Art and Literature', funded by Ad Astra scholarship

Poulomi Choudhury (UCD), 'Fleshy Food Resources of the Future', funded by Irish Research Council scholarship and College Doctoral Fee Scholarship

Research summary

My research focuses on the politics and culture of water.  I am currently writing a book called Water Crisis and World Literature. This project has been supported by a  UCD Ad Astra Fellowship, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship, as well as internal funding schemes. I am also working on a number of articles about Environmental Humanities in Palestine/Israel, and write from time-to-time on feminist politics. My work is broadly concerned with the stories we tell about nature and society, including who and what is seen as natural, or as acting on behalf of nature. I am interested in how claims of environmental concern and commitment are mobilised in service of different and often wildly varying political ends, and in how to reshape environmental politics towards more emancipatory and transformative goals.

My first book, Hydrofictions: Water, Power and Politics in Israeli and Palestinian Literature, was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020. It was shortlisted for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment UK and Ireland (ASLE-UKI) Book Prize 2021 for Best Academic Monograph in Ecocriticism and the Environmental Humanities.

I have work published or forthcoming on the history of public toilets in the UK; the politics of conservation in Palestine/Israel; the risks of a feminist politics focused on the figure of the killjoy; the promises and limitations of Sylvia Federici's political thought;  rivers and hydropoetics in the contemporary Canadian long poem; water, waste and war in contemporary Palestinian literature; water and the energy humanities; far-right environmental politics; the Netflix show Tiger King as an unorthodox nature documentary, with Nicole Seymour; women IDF soldiers in popular culture; water justice in the work of Canadian poet Rita Wong; the River Jordan in contemporary Palestinian writing; trees, forests and environmental policy in Israeli literature.

A list of publications can be found on Edinburgh Research Explorer: https://www.research.ed.ac.uk/en/persons/hannah-boast. Please email me if you want to read any of my work and don't have institutional access.

Project activity

Main project: Water Crisis and World Literature. Project consists of a monograph and articles published or forthcoming in Textual Practice, Interventions, Humanities and New Socialist. I'm currently writing up two pieces on these themes from my JSPS fellowship in Tokyo. The first is an article for a public audience on the Tokyo Toilet Project, which I discuss in my New Socialist piece. The second is an academic article on the writer-activist Ishimure Michiko, a key figure in the campaign for justice for Minamata Disease victims and a critic of twentieth-century Japanese water management policy, notably Japan's reliance on large dams and role in exporting this model across the region.

Secondary project: I am writing up a number of articles on Environmental Humanities in Palestine/Israel, including food sovereignty, and governing animal life in Palestine. I am involved in a range of public education initiatives around Palestinian arts, culture and environment, in the UK and internationally.

Current project grants

2023: British Academy and Royal Irish Academy Seed Funding: ‘Baby Boxes to Beige Gold: Cardboard Lifecycles’, with Lucy Razzall (National Archives) and Antonia Thomas (UHI).
2023: British Academy and Royal Irish Academy Seed Funding: ‘The Apocalyptic Quotidian’, with Danny Abdalla (Liverpool), Sarah Bezan (UCC), Jade French (Loughborough), Kasia Mika-Bresolin (QMUL), Lucy Razzall (National Archives), Antonia Thomas (UHI).

Past project grants

Key grants and fellowships:
2022: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Short-term Fellowship
2019: UCD Ad Astra Fellowship
2019: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship
2011: White Rose Doctoral Studentship, University of York and University of Sheffield

From 2013-2015 I was Coordinator for the AHRC-funded research network, Imagining Jerusalem, c. 1099 to the Present Day.

Additional grants and fellowships:
2023: British Academy and Royal Irish Academy Seed Funding: ‘Irish Peatlands: Hydrofictions and Hydrofutures’, with Rosie Everett (Northumbria)
2023: British Academy and Royal Irish Academy Knowledge Frontiers Symposium: The Future
2021: College Funding for Research Activity, UCD
2016: Humanities Research Centre Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of York
2014: Postcolonial Studies Association Conference Grant, for PSA biennial PG and ECR conference, ‘Resources of Resistance: Production, Consumption, Transformation’.
2014: Centre for Modern Studies Grant, University of York, for Resources of Resistance
2013: F. R. Leavis Travel Grant, University of York
2013: Humanities Research Centre Grant, University of York, for ‘Social Water, an interdisciplinary postgraduate workshop'
2012, 2013 and 2014: three Off the Shelf Festival of Words Community Grants