Sibyl Adam

Thesis title: The Affective Everyday in Narratives of Muslim Women Migrating to the UK 1906 - 2012


I did my undergraduate degree in English Literature at University of Glasgow and my masters in Cultures of Empire, Resistance and Postcoloniality at University of York. I began my PhD at Edinburgh in September 2014, funded by the Wolfson Foundation. At Edinburgh, I serve as a student representative at student staff liaison committees, management meetings and focus groups. I was a James Tait Black Prize reader for 2015.


  • MA (Hons) English Literature, University of Glasgow
  • MA Cultures of Empire, Resistance and Postcoloniality, University of York

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Member of the Postcolonial Studies Association 
  • Member of Northern Postcolonial Network
  • Member of American Comparative Literature Association

Undergraduate teaching

English Literature 2

Research summary

My thesis attempts to theorise migration as an everyday experience using affect theory. I analyse a range of literary narratives of Muslim women migrating to the UK since the Edwardian era in order to argue for the importance of emotional knowledge and experience. I bring together Edwardian travel writing, including the work of Atiya Fyzee, Maimoona Sultan and Zeyneb Hanoum, with contemporary authors Monica Ali, Yeshim Ternar, Leila Aboulela, Elif Shafak, Farhana Sheikh and Fadia Faqir.  My thesis demonstrates that this experience must be thought of intersectionally, as the convergence of religion, ethnicity, gender and class upon conceptions of identity.

My wider research interests generally fall into the range of postcolonial and diasporia studies, feminism, gender, queer theory, and critical theory (especially affect, space, the body and object theory). I am particularly interested in migration: theoretically, as it is explored in literature (both fiction and poetry) and how it contributes historically to British identity.



Project activity

In the spring term of 2015, I organised a series with fellow PhD student Peter Cherry about cultural representations of Muslims in Scotland and the North-East. Details and podcasts can be found here.

In the summer of 2015, I did a public lecture with Hannah Kershaw (University of York) at Durham University, entitled ‘Narrating Everyday British Life by Authors of Muslim Heritage: Then and Now’. A podcast of this talk can be found here.

In January 2016, as part of the peer-led teaching initiative ‘Theories and Textual Practices’, I organised and led a day for masters and first year PhD students on Postcolonial and Diasporic Theory. Resources, podcast of my lecture and information on this day can be found here.

I am lead organiser of 'Spaces of Belonging', a public engagement project with train postgraduates to lead poetry workshops with refugee, asylum seeker and migrant groups.  More information here-

Current project grants

Wolfson Foundation PhD Scholarship 2014-17,

SGSAH Cohort Development Fund and University of Edinburgh's Innovative Initiative Grant for Public Engagement Project 'Spaces of Belonging' 2016-17

Adam, S., (2017). Melancholic Migrations and Affective Objects in Fadia Faqir’s My Name is Salma. C21 Literature: journal of 21st-century writings. 5(1), p.2. DOI:

‘The Role of Emotions in Contemporary Literary Narratives of Migration’, 1st International Conference on Contemporary and Historical Approaches to Emotions, University of Sydney, Australia, 5-7 December 2016.

‘Colonial Affects: Emotion and Space in Indian Women’s Travel Writing about Edwardian London’, Colonial Formations: Connections and Collisions, University of Wollongong, Australia, 23-25 November 2016.

‘Affective Migrations: Objects, Gender and Emotion in Narratives about Migrant Women’, Object Emotions: Polemics, University of Cambridge, 15-6 April 2016.

‘Muslim Subjectivities and Everyday Religious Space in Contemporary British Fiction’, American Comparative Literature Association Annual Conference, Harvard University, USA, 17-20 March 2016.

‘Walking and the Melancholic Migrant in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane’, Migration and Marginalities, University of Brighton, 10 September 2015.

‘Narrating the Everyday in Indian Muslim Women’s Travel Writing to Britain in the Edwardian Era’, Postcolonial Studies Association Convention, University of Leicester, 7-9 September 2015.

‘The Cathedral Sung ‘Where Do You Come From?’: the Migrant’s Experience of Space and the City in Fadia Faqir’s My Name is Salma’, Melancholy Empire, University of Salford, 16 April 2015.