Simon Cooke


  • English Literature
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details



Room 3.07
50 George Square

Post code


  • Office hours for Semester 1, 2019-20: Mondays, 11.00-12.00
    Please note, for the week beginning 10 February only, my office hour will instead be on Thursday 13 February, 10.00-11.00.


Simon Cooke studied for an undergraduate degree in English Literature at Hull University (2000), and then for an MA in English: Issues in Modern Culture at University College London (2003); he then moved to Germany to join the International PhD Programme (IPP) ‘Literary and Cultural Studies’ with a scholarship at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture at Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen. At JLU, Simon taught in the Department of English and American Studies, and from 2009-10 was a Research Co-ordinator of the IPP. He returned to the UK in 2010 to take up a Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford, where from April to September 2012 he also covered as administrator for the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. He joined the English Department at Edinburgh University as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in autumn 2012, and became Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature in 2014.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Fourth-year and PG option: Fiction and Espionage (with Prof. Penny Fielding)
  • Third-year option: Mystery and Horror (with Prof. Penny Fielding)
  • Fourth-year option: Cities of Literature: Metropolitan Modernities (with Dr David Farrier)
  • Pre-hons tutorials in English Literature 1
  • Dissertation supervision

Postgraduate teaching

  • MSc Literature and Modernity I: Modernist Aesthetics (Semester 1)
  • LLC Research Methods Workshops: International Approaches in the Humanities; Travel Writing as Research Field; Working with Author Archives; Research in Modern and Contemporary Literature

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I would be happy to receive inquiries from prospective doctoral researchers whose interests coincide with or complement my own.  

Current PhD students supervised

Angus Sutherland - W.G. Sebald and Biopolitics (PhD, year 3)

Saori Mita - Queer Spies in Literature, Film, TV, and Theatre (co-supervisor with (as lead) Dr David Sorfa, year 2) 

Nicole Chen - Biofictions of Literary Authors - Woolf and Plath (PhD, year 1) 


Past PhD students supervised

MScR II: Alan Goodson: 'The Foreigner in (Popular) Fiction: Comparing Victorian and Contemporary Representations' (2018)

MScR II: Adam Bloom: 'Vladimir Nabokov and the Real' (2015)

Research summary

Simon's broad interests lie in modern and contemporary English and comparative literature. Modernism, life writing, the literature of travel, and secrecy in literature, are among his areas of special interest.


Current research interests

Simon's current research falls into two main areas: life writing (and the relations between writers' lives and works); and literature and secrecy (particularly the relations between literature and espionage). Alongside essays in these areas, he is working on a monograph on avant-garde aesthetics and intelligence services (focusing on, among others, Conrad, Woolf, Bowen, Smith, Beckett, Spark), and a more personal book called Gathering Gifts: Memoirs of Reading.

Past research interests

Simon's research background is in the literature of travel, which was the subject of his first monograph - Travellers' Tales of Wonder: Chatwin, Naipaul, Sebald - published by EUP in February 2013.

Knowledge exchange

At Edinburgh, Simon is one of the co-organisers - with Prof. Penny Fielding, Dr David Sorfa, and Dr Jane McKie - of Edinburgh Spy Week.  

He is also one of the co-founders and former convenors, with Dr Clare Broome Saunders and Dr Tom F. Wright, of Travel Cultures: An Oxford Interdisciplinary Research Seminar, and a co-founder and former co-organiser, with Prof. Timothy Mathews (UCL), of the podcast interview series Between the Lines: Literature and the Arts in Translation.

View all 15 publications on Research Explorer